Mexico: One Aspect of Good Manners

Americans are free and easy with shaking hands upon meeting a new acquaintance, and the “firmer the handshake” the better.  In fact, it seems as though some new friends try to outdo everyone else in the “firmness” of that handshake.

But other countries aren’t quite in the John Wayne Manners Corner, so here’s how that’s different in Mexico. (And perhaps in other countries.)  Handshakes there, except by Mexicans who have had previous experience with U.S. visitors, are “soft.”  Gentle might be a better word.  Might even be considered “flabby.”  Go with gentle, and whoever is shaking hands with you will appreciate your thoughtfulness.  And shaking hands, at least when I was living and traveling and teaching there, was the usual way to greet a friend or neighbor.

Some friends of mine there, would chastise me for how visitors would crush their hands. I pled ignorance, and apologized for my fellow Norte-Americanos, and then changed the subject.  When I lived in Puebla, Mexico, I was close to the headquarters of Volkswagen in that country, which was handy, since I could get my cranky vehicle fixed when it stopped running.  This plant was owned by Carlos Slim, who for years was the richest man in the world…yes, the world.  Now, this year puts him at second richest man in that same world.  He also owns the string of restaurants I recommend for clean and safe and relatively inexpensive meals, Sanborn’s.  There the water and ice cream is safe…or has been in my experience. I always had the same thing….something like a sliced hot dog bun, with beans and cheese slathered on it, then I added salsa….muy delicioso.  And cheap.

A fun place to eat in Mexico City, besides a Sanborn’s on every corner (considerable exaggeration there) is the place that had a huge wild and wide variety of hats dangling from the ceiling.  I think the restaurant was called Anderson’s, but I will have to check further to see if someone has dared to re-do it and drop the most fun at hat-matching that a diner can have while waiting for the food to appear.  A more special place is the Chalet Suizo, which has a Swiss theme, of course.  If you read Carolyn Hart’s novel placed in Mexico City, you will see this restaurant mentioned. I took my visiting children there for dinner and lunch.

There are so many things to cover when speaking about Mexico City, that it requires another entry. Or ten. Or twenty.  So, soft hands when shaking; good appetites when eating at Sanborn’s; and satisfying “looking around” at all this wonderful city offers.

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