Mexico: 7 Things That Have Taken Some Getting Used To


There are certain things about our lives in Mexico that have taken some getting used to, even still at the 2 year mark. Take for example:

1. Glorietas

Those perplexing roundabout traffic circles that serve as an intersection for oncoming vehicles from all 4 different directions, often converging all at the same time. If you are not careful, alert and prepared when you enter this whirlpool, you just might find yourself getting stuck in it , going around and around, like on a merry-go-round spin toy at a child’s playground, feverishly trying to calculate the right moment to jump off and get out!

I have learned that I must enter the glorietas with confidence, ready to kick ass and take on the fast and furious obstacle-like course of dodging oncoming cars, trucks and motorcycles. It is likely that I hold my breath until I have exited the glorieta and am hopefully on the road of my choice. It has been on more than one occasion that I was not able to get out when I wanted to and had to take a road not initially intended on…but, better to err on the side of safety.


2. Left-Hand Turn Signals

Don’t assume that a blinking left-hand turn signal means that a left turn is intended by the driver. Quite the contrary, it often means “go ahead, it is safe to pass me now—on the left”…however, don’t assume that either for a pass on the left, when in fact a left turn is in the making by the driver in front can be a risky assumption to make. Additionally, in Mexico, it is common road etiquette and practice to pull to the right-hand side, before making a left turn. Are you following all of this? Keep in mind too, while you are mentally and tactically assessing the road conditions, that there are often burros, horses and dogs on the shoulders that one must avoid for both their safety and yours. Again, similar to the navigation of the glorietas, stay alert, aware of your surroundings and able to respond quickly and safely.

Left hand turn in mexico

3. Metric system

I am an educator by profession—a Spanish one with a knack for all things liberal arts, minus the mathematics. Algebra and conversion challenges, admittedly, aren’t my strong suit. Fahrenheit to celsius, inches to cm, kilos instead of pounds…’s enough to make a girl dizzy!

Time to get to work and study this!


But I try, give it my best effort and although there is a lot of guess work and generous rounding off going on, I seem to get by okay.  I do think I will make learning the metric system one of my 2015 goals however. My first few trips to the local butchers, I held my breath wide-eyed waiting to see what the 2 kilos of salchicha that I just ordered would look like. Fortunate for me, my family loves Mexican sausages and over 4 pounds of them could easily fit into our fridge and freezer.

4. Meat

Salchichas at Tuesday Market

A walk through the tianguis (an outdoor market filled with a potpourri of every imaginable local fruit, vegetable, handmade craft and meat), or into the local butchers, leaves no doubt as to the origin of it—and fresh at that—likely having been delivered that very same morning from a nearby rancho.

Pollo @ Tuesday Market

Sights like the following one of the beheaded pigs definitely catch me off guard and still get my attention even at the 2 year mark. How could they not?

Fresh Meat

Coming from the States where people in large part depend on big box and major grocery stores, we were accustomed to purchasing our meats—pre-packaged and shiny—at Costco, Sprouts, Trader Joes or Whole Foods with what some would deem to be the yucky, “inedible” parts cut off, discarded and not displayed for pubic viewing. Here in Mexico, most every part of the animal is considered edible, and therefore for sale, and therefore on display and available for consumption.

All parts used Tacos

When I took my Mom through the mercado on her recent visit with us, she jumped about 2 feet when she realized that what was staring at her on the corner of a butcher’s counter that we passed by, was an intact cow’s head, eyes and all, just without the skin. I suppose if one were playing with the idea of veganism, a walk through a tianguis just might seal the deal. For us carnivores however, it is an important reminder to support farmers who are raising their animals humanely and in good conditions with proper feed.

There are other things that stand out to me as being unique to life here in Mexico that are worth mentioning:

5. People exchanging polite, sincere, customary greetings of “Hola, buenos días”,  “Hola, buenas tardes” or “Hola, buenas noches”….and yes, they most often start with an “Hola”.

6. Needing to pull your side view mirrors in on the narrow 2-way cobble stone streets so as to avoid a mirror collision when 2 cars are passing at same time.

7. Burros are still used as a form of transportation and delivery.

firewood delivery

Undoubtedly there are many more “things” that have taken some adjusting to beyond the 7 that I have listed here that have simply blended into and become part of my daily life. I embrace these differences, these unique attributes that contribute to my colorful, vibrant and varied life in Mexico.

Do you have any you would like to share? Would love to hear them!

Feel free to add to this list in the comments section below….

Cheers and Happiest of New Years to you all,

~Katie O’Grady


– Source:

The O’Grady Family has had a long-standing love affair with Mexico—the culture, the beauty, the color, the people, the heart and “corazón” of her—her richness and ruggedness. – Visit their website: and learn more about them.




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