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Asking for Directions in Mexico

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Streets of downtown Zocalo in Mexico City
Credit: Eddygaleotti | Bigstock

When you visit a new town in Mexico it is important to ask for directions to find your way around. But asking for directions in Mexico is not as easy as it seems.

In the past we didn´t have the technology we have now, so it was a little bit harder to go somewhere. Today we have GPS, we have maps in our cell phones, our laptops and our tablets and that makes it much easier to explore a new city.

Despite all the technology, we often still have to ask somebody on the street how to get to the place we are looking for. And for many expats it is difficult to do in Mexico. Either they don´t have the level of Spanish to ask for directions or when the Mexican person is giving them the directions they cannot understand very well.

Even though many of you can ask and understand directions in Spanish, sometimes our culture leads many Mexicans to offer directions that may be inaccurate. They want to be helpful even if they don’t know how to get you to your destination. This is something that even Mexicans have to deal with every day.

Here is an example: You are in an area you barely know and you are trying to get to your friend’s house or a new restaurant. There is a point when you don’t think it is a good idea to move forward until you make sure where you are going. That’s when you stop the first person you see on the street and ask how to get to the place you want to go. You can ask in Spanish “¿Cómo llego a… (name of the street or name of the place)?” When the person answers, make sure you look at his or her arms and hands, because we Mexicans to tend to use them when we talk to underscore what we are saying. That’s important, especially when you don’t understand Spanish. You can also say “Repite por favor” or “Mas despacio” in order to hear it again or for them to say it more slowly.

Our recommendation is not to rely on just one person’s directions but to ask at least five people for directions. That will help you avoid getting lost.

We think this is one of the more difficult situations expats encounter when they live in Mexico. For us Mexicans, we are aware of this issue. That’s why we don’t get upset. We just keep asking more people. The more people you ask the fewer chances you’ll have of receiving misinformation that will send you in the wrong direction.

Good luck next time you travel to a new city or town in Mexico!

Nos vemos.

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