Lingo and important bits ‘o info in Mexico!

Okay, so these are random bits of info, but I found helpful when it comes to surviving and remaining “normal” in Mexico based on various needs!

Some random but important-asked questions:

What kinds of candy should I take back or know about in Mexico City?

Great topic, check these out:

Here is the url again  JUST in CASE, lol.


How can I find out what things cost in Mexico before I arrive?

Check out this site!


Where can I get insights into the weather of Mexico?  

“I’d have found the most accurate Weather information in Mexico to be from Mexican Weather Service website, which includes Forecast by City, by the hour and up to 10 day forecast. Their weather app, MeteoInfo is FREE and was developed in collaboration with The Weather Company but is operated by local forecasters. You can download for Iphone and Android smartphones. Depending on how your phone’s language, the app will can be downloaded in english or spanish.  I think this is very useful especially when going out over the weekend, vacation and just even to decide if you should bring light sweater or umbrella (now for rainy season, May:November).
Hope this is helpful!      Please share!” – Tagino Lobato-Juan


What is involved with renewing your passport while in Mexico?

It’s pretty simple. Just show up at the embassy’s front gate, have your passport with you, and tell them that it needs to be renewed. Someone will be summoned to escort you upstairs. It’s best not to go to work the day you’re going to do it, since you’ll need several hours to complete the whole process (there’s quite a bit of waiting involved, and there are always other people who are there for the same reason as you). They’ll take your picture at a photo booth that’s right there, so make sure you look and are dressed the way you want to look and be dressed for your passport photo. I don’t think I’ve left anything out.

I will add that they did not allow electronics inside the embassy when I went about 5 years ago. I had to go home and come back without my phone. Bring a book. One that has paper… Lol!

Only thing I’d add is be sure to check the Embassy website before you go to make sure you’re meeting all of the requirements and have all the necessary docs in order. It’s not too difficult of a process. You can check electronics with the guards at the door.

It takes about two weeks to receive.

Anyone recommend a weekend house to rent in San Miguel?

*Casas Carly –  wonderful setting and great value. wonderful setting and great value.


Anyone know if there is somewhere in Mexico City where you can actually donate lenses and glasses and they might be able to be used?

Most big churches will take them. They may also accept medicines,   I work with the World Cataract Foundation, and we give out donated glasses at each of our cataract campaigns, (where we do about 500 free cataract surgeries per year), I think “ópticas Lux” had a program also “Cinepolis, you may want to check out el Hospital de la Ceguera, The American Benevolent Society has a program set up to redistribute them.


Where can I buy good fresh bread on Sundays? Polanco-Condesa way

* Superama Polanco has good options, of course you can always find better, Martin Near La Esperanza, BOHEME–excellent choice!,  Le Pain Quotidien in Polanco (Or Condesa) it’s an organic bakery/restaurant, La Puerta Abierta Bakery,  (open on Sundays with the best pastries and french/italian bread in the city – Colima 226 in Roma Norte), La Balance on Sonora opposite Parque España…there’s a big bakery just around the corner on Oaxaca too, Hackl near the condos market.


Where do I go to purchase Luche Libra tickets and not the luche libre tour?!

These places, the arena

and     ticketmaster
are the best places to get luche libre tickets.

Anyone know where I can buy a didgeridoo here????

*Taj Mahal, in Tepoztlan. Also in the mercado de artesanias in Coyoacán I’ve seen some!”


What’s the roundabout taxi fare from Polanco to the airport? I’m trying to make a reservation through Cabify for tomorrow morning and I’m getting a quote of around $300MXP. The site is estimating an 83 minute cab ride…will it really take that long?

Some definite better solutions –

*The metro if at all possible, CHEAP, one way, and yellow line to the hangars. Also depends in the luggage you have.

*”A sitio taxi usually cost my husband about $200, when I I took a BlackUber the last time it was $300. We usually go early morning too and it’s about a 30-40 minute trip.”

*”From Anzures, it’s $245 with Nueva Imagen”

*”Call Taxi RET on 56431111 – they will give u a fixed fare and are safe, professional cars. I think from Polanco will be about 200-225 fixed”

*”If you pay more than 200, you are getting ripped off guys. Call Servi plus taxis. Usually between 120 and 200 pesos, depending on how gringo you look and sound! Uber is good too, but its 220 pesos for their black cab service, more for the SUV.”

*”Take Uber. Depending of the hour (rush hour) it can take 1 1/2 hour from Polanco to airport.”

*”From personal experience as the author of tho blog, from Roma Norte, taking a street cab, it took me less than 30 minutes at as cost of 80 pesos, to terminal 2, so 300 pesos?  Someone is making a fortune!”


What’s the best and cheapest way to book flights within Mexico?

“This depends on the itinerary. is a decent aggregator, but they add on taxes and fees at the very end. I usually search Interjet, Volaris and VivaAerobus directly depending on the itinerary. Aeromexico is almost always going to be more expensive. I don’t know of an aggregator that includes all four, would be interested to know if someone else does.

I fly so much w/in MX that I generally don’t mess around with anyone besides Interjet unless I have to. The other two are cheaper, but even less reliable. I _always_ regret flying Volaris. But if you have a lot of time and not a lot of luggage, they may be worth it. All three are frequently delayed. People complain like crazy about VivaAerobus (“AeroGuajolote”) but I did their DF-Puerto Escondido once and it got the job done.”

(-Thanks Clayton J Szczech !!)

as well as …


Where is a good place to check for 5k’s and runs in Mexico City?

Emocion depotiva and Asdeporte online.


Where is a good place to purchase running shoes?

Todos a Correr – Calle Leibnitz  117 Col. Anzures  11590  Mexico


Where is a great place to purchase items for Christmas?   


Does anyone know if you can take a Mexican car into the states on a temporary basis? Are there fees attached? I’m looking at 3-6 months. I’ve had a look on the customs and border control website but it seems a little ambiguous to me.

*”If you are a us citizen, they’ll ask for your residency or proof of residency (in this case, Mexico) if you are either mexican or whatever else, all you need is insurance (don’t buy it at the border, better online: AXA has great insurance covering your car here in Mexico AND the US).”

*”Just get US insurance and make sure you have your Mexican Visa, passport , proof the car is in your name, and make sure all of your registration documents are current. Also, if you plan on going outside of a border state (Texas, Arizona, California, NM, etc), plan on getting pulled over quite a bit. If you are planning on heading north of those states they don’t see MX plates hardly ever and will pull you over for suspicion.”

*”Check your mexican insurance, many of those -not just axa- have “cobertura” in the US included. If not, insurance usually runs 11 to 15 per day at the border…you don’t want that! Also, make sure your visa requirements are met (check us embassy website) for entry into the US and have proof of residency (in Mexico) which would explain why you have a mexican car (Fm2 or such). I am assuming your car has mexican plates… entry and the permitted (maximum 180) days is up to the border agent’s criteria. Smile”

*”I have inbursa and it does cover me. With the maximum coverage plan. Even cheaper than Axa. I totally forgot. Great reminder.”



Question about bringing a dog into Mexico: Who has done it? I have filled out the requirements for the USDA option B- meaning I only have a letter from my vet on letterhead (they did not send away for a 2nd signature and an official stamp) and a copy of her rabies vaccine info. Is that enough?

Also- any good vet recommendations for regular stuff AND/OR emergencies? I live in Polanco. Thanks!!

“He needs a translated “clear bill of health” .”

“I take my dog to the veterinary close to chedruai and costco in polanco. The address is presa pabellón 8 colonia irrigacion. Phone number 55571805 or 53950466”

“I’ve done it twice. It’s all about who you get so it is better to be safe. All documents need to be translated. Health certificate within the last 10 days. Rabies cert. I’m pretty sure Parvo or some deworming. Distemper as well. The first time I brought him they were extremely lax with my documents. The next time (about a year or 2 ago) they were lax at the airport but thorough at customs. I’d have everything because I’ve heard stories of dogs not being allowed in or being placed in quarantine for days.”


Where can I check out concerts in Mexico?

One great site is here!


Where can I buy a dehumidifier?

Suggestions: Costco, Home Depot, Steren, EZPawn (one is on Insurgentes near Puebla/ Durango… on the opposite side of Waldo’s near a Coppel store… they don’t always have them but I have seen them plenty of times.)


Where can I post things like furniture for sale?

Segundamano,, Craigslist, mercadolibre


I have been out of water in the city of Mexico, is there a way I can predict when this occurs or will occur?

YES!  Thanks to Jason Schell, see below:

“Hey guys, one of the common frustrations here in DF are the water shortages which always seem to hit Roma/Condesa pretty hard. This last puente the city cut the water for 5 full days (it’s usually about 3)! Anyway, there’s two great resources for this:

you can follow the DF water service on twitter at @sacmex they tweet notifications”

El Universal has a page “sin agua en DF” that notifies as well:http://www.eluniversaldf.mxSin_agua_en_DF_home.html

Both are in Spanish obviously. It wouldn’t hurt if we reminded newcomers before puentes about water shortages. I know one of mine was without water 4 days.


Is there a place I can get a Christmas tree for the holiday that can be replanted?

If you’re looking for green options for natural Christmas trees, check out “Siempre Verde” for options that get planted later.


How can I check the balance of my Efecticard Despensa?

One way is this :  Using your phone, send a message to 37071 with the word “balance”, followed by a space, then your 16 digit number for your card, followed by a space and your ASF emplyee number.  Second way – go to this link, register for an account – your 16 digit card, then emplyee number, a url will be sent to the email you indicate, click that and then sign in to the above link, and you will receive your balance online.   Third way – call 01 (55) 57 28 10 68 to ask!


What is an AFORE?

It Is a Mexican system that administers and invests the retirement funds deducted from your payroll by the Mexican Social Security Institute. SURA and MetLife visit the ASF campus to provide information on their services and help you change your account if you so desire usually in March.  To find out what amounts you have or how to track this, check with HC so you can be prepared for the March visit!



 Here some places where you can get the photos:

Plaza Observatorio: The mall with the Bancomer branch next to ASF

Polanco: “Estudio Foto Zoom,” Horacio No. 528 ph: 5545-3440

Narvarte: “Foto Narvarte,” Dr. Vertiz No. 808 ph: 5590-8989 

Please verify the content of the letters and make any changes that you consider pertinent. Also make sure that the name and signature appear as they do in your passport; the National Institute of Migration is very sensitive about this matter.

During this process, it is recommended that you do not leave the country. If you must leave the country, be aware that your process will be halted until your return and the cost of your exit and return permit will be your responsibility.

This process will take about five weeks. As soon as it is finished you will receive an e-mail informing you of the day of your appointment at Immigration to pick up your renewedFM.


Where can I donate gently used clothes?         There is a refuge for transmigrants very close to “el monumento a la revolución” called Casa de los Amigos.       Casa de los Amigos A.C., Ignacio Mariscal 132, Col. Tabacalera, Mexico D.F. 06030                               TEL.(52-55) 5705 0521, (52-55) 5705 0646                                                         They’d be more than happy to take any clothes, shoes etc.


Goodwill in DF (Two Locations)


a Gratitlan Non Profit that has been in Parque Rio a few times – and here is there Website on Facebook!


Where can I purchase good Tequila for friends as a souvenir from Mexico, yet reasonable?

“First advice regarding Don Ramon was the best. Just got back from Superama. This morning at a Mom and Pop store on the street 190 a bottle. Soriana 280 a bottle. Superama 149 a full size bottle with 2 limited edition Don Ramon tequila glasses.  Awesome price for a good tequila with some collectors glasses! Thanks again.”  –
This teacher will remain anonymous to avoid alcoholic comments /criticisms, but as our shopper on the street testing this, this is valuable info!

Where can I purchase vegetarian meat items?

A few places:

Mercado 100 – There is a specific Vegan- and vegetarian vendor at Mercado 100 on Sundays switching between Plaza Rio de Janerio and Plaza Cabrella.

Centro Naturista – Roma (Thanks Ms Westholm!)

The asian market Mikasa, has a lot of tofu. It’s on San Luis Potosi between Medellin and Monterrey in Colonia Roma. Not sure if this answers the question, but this place is definitely worth a visit. (Thanks Mrs. Maas!)

“For firm tofu Costco is the best (in my experience – I’m not familiar with the above store). Chedraui (in Polanco) has fake chicken burgers, nuggets and breakfast sausage patties (they’re Morning Star). They’re pricey but worth it. Soy crumble can be found in most markets and some grocery stores to make your own foods as well.  Costco also sells veggie burgers but I do not like them – they’re made from vegetables and fall apart when you try to eat them. I also find them greasy.” – (Thanks Ms Dixie!)

In Condesa, there’s the Amsterdam Market on Ozuluama and Amsterdam. (Thanks Tracy Miller!)


Where is a good place to get a television repaired? (Verdict is still out on this one!)


Where is a good place to purchase a reasonable priced sport coat?

Sportscoat: used sportscoats are sold outside metro Cuautemoc and metro Salto del Agua

Cheap new suits are all over the centro in Marco Viali and Aldo Conti stores. (Thanks Jason Schell!)


Is there a place I can purchase Poppyseed?

Excellent!  Plenty at City Market – aprox. 141 pesos, and it is referred to as Adormidera!


Coupons here for shopping!



IMSS and Being sick!  Important things to know:

Take advantage of the summer break to update your official documents such as IFE, CURP, RFC, FM, and passport and also go to your IMSS clinic to get your new IMSS card if you have not requested it yet. For more information on IMSS clinics, call 01 800 623 23 23.

Although you feel HORRIBLE, make sure, before you do anything else, you get all info needed to register for IMSS, your booklet, your doctor picked put, everything, then when you do get sick, you’re ready!

When you are sick, bundle up, get a friend, and make sure you are registered way before this, with the IMSS that is closest to your home!  THEN, you have to go to the one you are registered to, BUT – you have a certain time you can go!

CHECK YOUR IMSS booklet to see when that is!  – then goooo!  Make sure you have your symptoms all described for the doctor, and make sure you are seen, despite how long you have to wait AND , make sure you ask for an incapicidad!  This is your ticket for missed days, so do not leave without asking for this SOOOOO important!

Also a note, all along the way, keep HC informed of what is going on, and pay close attention to the handbook for symptoms of Influenza to make sure you are on top of getting your days covered!  🙂



DO NOT FORGET THIS!  ANY expenses incurred hold ONTO the receipts, and BRING WITH YOU  to get reimbursed.  This is a definite, DEFINITE, so do not forget to record and save all receipts, and bring with you.  THIS is MEGA important!

Laughing…APOSTILLE  🙂  Kind of like that Aeropostale, people can ay it different ways but darn it – it is vital when overseas!

You first get your documents together, official (OFFICIAL) transcripts, your diplomas, degrees, birth certificates, wedding certificates, teaching certificate, etc.  Knowing what state they were issued in is helpful for the apostle.

I also would ask the immigration office if they can combine some things, for example, if your teaching degree is evident on your transcripts, couldn’t you maybe make sure you just turn in transcripts if it is clear and official that you have your teaching certificate – verified on your transcripts?  It might she you some money and worth checking out if you can consolidate.  Get all this notarized first (I did it in my home state of issuance just to be safe).

Then you need to send the documents that are not notarized (hint hint) to the issuing state where you obtained them, to get apostle, which is verifying their authenticity on an international level.  Make sure you send them to the state they were issued in, or I goes, in some cases, the country.  I would, to save time, also find out how much it will be to mail from that issuing place to ASF – prepay for the package/envelope, etc, and send that to the issuing state/country, so they can immediately send it to ASF when apostilled, instead of sending it to you, then you send to ASF.  This will save time.  You will get your documents – originals, back when you come to ASF.  Ta da!

Apostille!  LOL…


Calling Mexico

Phone Calls To and From and Within Mexico: Dialing Made Easy

HOW TO CALL TO MEXICO FROM THE UNITED STATES OR TO THE U S FROM MEXICO! Check here, the link…. and this will help you!

Dialing and Calling Into and Out-of and Within Mexico:
Imagine you are enjoying Merida and want to call a friend here in Mexico or back in the USA or Canada. The prefixes you need to dial depend on ~ where you are ~ and ~ what kind of phone you are using ~ (land-lines vs. cell phones). The rules for dialing phone prefixes within Mexico, and from outside Mexico, are different for land-line vs. cell phones.

Land-Line Phone Calls Within Mexico:
Land-line to local land-line: Dial the seven digit number (i.e. 924-1234)
Land-line to long distance land-line: Dial 01 & the ten digit number (i.e. 01-999-924-1234)
Land-line to local cell phone: Dial 044 & the ten digit number (i.e. 044-999-924-1234)
Land-line to long distance cell phone: Dial 045 & the ten digit number (i.e. 045-999-924-1234)

Cell-Phone Calls Within Mexico:
Cell phone to local or long distance land-line: Dial the ten digit number (i.e. 999-924-1234)
Cell phone to local or long distance cell phone: Dial the ten digit number (i.e. 999-924-1234)

Calling from the US or Canada:
Dialing to a Mexican land-line phone: Dial 011-52 & the ten digit number (i.e. 011-52-999-924-1234)
Dialing to a Mexican cell phone: Dial 011-52-1 & the ten digit number (i.e. 011-52-1-999-924-1234)

Calling from Mexico to a US or Canadian phone:
Dial 001 & the ten digit number (i.e. 001-970-555-5555)

Calling from Mexico to Other Countries:
Dial 00 & the Country Code & phone number (i.e. for England: 00-44-7024065511)

Calling from Mexico to US or Canadian Toll Free numbers:
For 800 numbers: Dial 001-880 & the seven digit number
For 866 numbers: Dial 001-883 & the seven digit number
For 877 numbers: Dial 001-882 & the seven digit number
For 888 numbers: Dial 001-881 & the seven digit number


Mexican Area Codes (Alphabetically by State):
Acapulco, Guerrero – 744
Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes – 449
Alamos, Sonora – 647
Barra de Navidad, Jalisco – 315
Bucerias, Nayarit – 329
Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur – 624
Campeche, Campeche – 981
Cancun, Quintana Roo – 998
Catemaco, Veracruz – 294
Chetumal, Quintana Roo – 983
Chihuahua, Chihuahua – 614
Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche – 938
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua – 656
Ciudad Obregon, Sonora – 644
Ciudad del Valles, San Luis Potosi – 481
Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas – 834
Colima, Colima – 312
Cordoba, Veracruz – 271
Costa Careyes, Jalisco – 315
Cozumel, Quintana Roo – 987
Creel, Chihuahua – 635
Cuernavaca, Morelos – 777
Culiacan, Sinaloa – 667
Durango, Durango – 618
El Fuerte, Sinaloa – 698
Ensenada, Baja California – 646
Fresnillo, Zacatecas – 493
Guadalajara, Jalisco – 33
Guanajuato, Guanajuato – 473
Guaymas, Sonora – 622
Hermosillo, Sonora – 662
Huatulco, Oaxaca – 958
Irapuato, Guanajuato – 462
Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo – 998
Ixtapa, Guerrero – 755
La Paz, Baja California Sur – 612
Leon, Guanajuato – 477
Loreto, Baja California Sur – 613
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur – 624
Los Mochis, Sinaloa – 668
Manzanillo, Colima – 314
Matehuala, San Luis Potosi – 488
Matamoros, Tamaulipas – 868
Mazatlan, Sinaloa – 669
Melaque, Jalisco – 315
Merida, Yucatan – 999
Mexicali, Baja California – 686
Mexico City, Federal District – 55
Morelia, Michoacan – 443
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon – 81
Mulege, Baja California Sur – 615
Nogales, Sonora – 631
Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas – 867
Oaxaca, Oaxaca – 951
Pachuca, Hidalgo – 771
Palenque, Chiapas – 916
Patzcuaro, Michoacan – 434
Piedras Negras, Coahuila – 878
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo – 984
Progreso, Yucatan – 969
Puebla, Puebla – 222
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca – 954
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo – 998
Puerto Penasco, Sonora – 638
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco – 322
Queretaro, Queretaro – 442
Reynosa, Tamaulipas – 899
Rosarito, Baja California – 661
Saltillo, Coahuila – 844
San Blas, Nayarit – 323
San Carlos, Sonora – 622
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas – 967
San Felipe, Baja California – 686
San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur – 624
San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi – 444
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato – 415
Sayulita, Nayarit – 327
Tapachula, Chiapas – 962
Taxco, Guerrero – 762
Tepic, Nayarit – 311
Tijuana, Baja California – 664
Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala – 246
Todos Santos, Baja California Sur – 612
Toluca, Estado de Mexico – 722
Torreon, Coahuila – 871
Troncones, Guerrero – 755
Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas – 961
Uruapan, Michoacan – 452
Valle de Bravo, Estado de Mexico – 726
Veracruz, Veracruz – 229
Villahermosa, Tabasco – 993
Xalapa, Veracruz – 228
Zacatecas, Zacatecas – 492
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero – 755

Courtesy of: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.

© Steven M. Fry


DRIVING TO/FROM the States from Mexico, etc. and IN Mexico…

Driving info all from this link!

Getting your Mexican Driver’s License

Driving to the borderThere are so many details we have to adjust to when we make a move to another country, starting with language and law. But most of it is pretty familiar once we begin. For instance, Lakeside we have many signs and residents who are bilingual. We have specialists who help us with things we do not understand. Let’s address the issue of Drivers Licenses as an example. First, your valid license from another country is respected in Mexico. If your home state… Read the entire article on getting your license

Getting Insurance for your US and Canadian Car

Driving to the borderFirst, you must have Mexican car insurance if you are bringing your car into the country whether for a visit using an FMM entry visa or to live in Mexico with an FM2 or FM3. If you are driving in, you can use Mexican insurance you purchase on the northern side of the border but that will serve you for only the limited time you specified. You can also buy insurance on the Mexican side. (More info on this site).

Roads in Mexico

Toll road in MexicoThere are rest points, gas stations and snacks available at various places, and bridges are announced with huge signs that show how deep the canyon is that you are traversing, usually with a single lane each way. Do not become impatient and attempt to pass. It is a long way down many of those canyons, and trucks take the cuota roads because it is faster, sometimes faster in their direction than in yours.

Bringing a foreign Plated Car into Mexico

All foreigners are legally allowed to temporarily import one US or Canadian (or any foreign plated vehicle) into Mexico. The procedure is simple and straightforward. Some people may not agree with the rules governing the temporary importations laws (Article 106 importación vehiculos), but if followed, this option is a great way to save the expense of having to purchase another vehicle for living in Mexico. The Lake Chapala and Ajijic area has a fairly large number of foreign plated cars including vehicles from Canada, USA, Switzerland and South America

Temporary importation permits are good for 180 days if entering Mexico on a tourist visa (FMM). These permits can be extended if the foreigners have or obtain an FM3 (now called a Non-Inmigrante card). The permits then have an expiration date reflected on the FM3. If the foreigner stays on a tourist visa, then the tourist and vehicle must leave Mexico before the 180 day expiration. If you leave Mexico for whatever reason without the vehicle if you are here on an FMM, the car becomes illegal, even when you return with a new FMM, the car permit is no longer valid as the FMM number will not match the one on the car permit.

This is not an issue if you hold an FM3. To bring the vehicle into Mexico, the requirements are as follows: Passport, Mexican Migratory Status (FMM/FM3), Proof of ownership (title or registration), Drivers License, Major Credit Card* (Mexican issued credit cards are not accepted), Insurance (although customs does not ask for proof of this)


Getting your Mexican car permit in Laredo

The cost of the permit is $37 USD as of this writing which will be charged on the credit card. If you do not have a major credit card, you will need to pay the $37 USD with cash PLUS a $400 USD cash bond to ensure the car will be taken out of Mexico in the 180 day period. If you do not remove the car from Mexico in the 180 days, the $400 USD will NOT be refunded.

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Check out info based on new restrictions, laws, etc HERE!

Insurance in Mexico, a GREAT agent and this is who I have:

International Insurance Group – AG –
121 E. Birch Street Suite 207
Flagstaff, AZ  86001
International/Mexico Insurance (877) 784-6787
fax: (888) 467-4639
Email: info@iigins/com
Specifically, I dealt with the below agent, she was GREAT!
Ask for Angelica, she is AWESOME!

Driving across the Border in Mexico

A good Mexico Question/Answer forum

A good half way spot if you’d like to stop halfway from Mexico City to the border…Las Palmas Midway Inn.

Terminology –

LIBRE = Free Road. Free roads are less well maintained, single-lanes each way that will take you longer to travel across. However, to see some of the ‘off the beaten track’ places, you’ll need to avoid Toll Roads, as they often double as “by-passes” (see term below). It’s recommended that you don’t take the free roads after dark.

CUOTA = Toll Road. Follow this sign if you want to take the toll road to the destination you are traveling to. Note that the highway numbers are often the same, so you can be on the right highway number, heading in the right direction, but on a free (slower) road than you’d like to be. For toll roads, follow the signs that read “CUOTA”.

LIBRAMIENTO = Bypass. Sometimes, major free roads that connect big towns and cities will give you an option to take the “Libramiento” route. This is like a toll road (and sometimes it’s part of the toll road) which, for a fee, will enable you to by-pass the smaller town city if you don’t want to go there, saving you time, and perhaps the hassle of getting lost. Libramientos work in the same way as toll roads.


I know, many call it crazy, and being I am a little off, then I guess this fits me.  I have done the trek three times, and knowing alot before you go is crucial.  You will need a vehicle permit before entering Mexico  This can be done at the border, as I did, and I did this in Laredo, Texas. Cost, I want to say in USD around 250.00 but I will check that.  You need your FM3 original, birth certificate, passport, title, registration, arranged Mexican insurance, all originals.  In this fashion, you should be all set to get this permit and to cross the border.

Cost – from Delaware to Mexico, or Mexico to Delaware, I kept receipts that will help you much – this is what I found out below: (See also my January 9th blog to see costs going back to Mexico from the U.S.)

Going back to talking about the trip here, FYI – total tolls in Mexico – 788 pesos – so rounding numbers to 800 pesos leaves you with a total of 61.4568 dollars USD when using today’s (December 27 2012) currency exchange, from Mexico City to the border then to that original 788 pesos of tolls you add 3.00 USD to cross the Bridge into the border – and ta da!  🙂   You’re in! – now looking at gas costs… $417.94 from Mexico to Delaware – one way, so add that double for back and forth, and then the tolls double, you’re looking at $960.00 USD total roundtrip it seems, or close to that…so yes, cheaper to fly,  –  amazing when you go back and look over the costs of everything to get to home driving!  🙂

Great links –

A GREAT place to stay in Mexico, half way, and pet friendly:

Las Palmas Midway Inn (Thanks Kitchens and Ablings!)

Crossing the border with food

Customs Statement of what you can bring in

Nuevo Laredo info

PDF of Crossing Laredo

Permits for Cars

Bringing a Car to Mexico

Mexican Consulate

Nuevo Laredo tips

Some quotes/info from others that have made the drive:

“We paid around $300USD at the border (Laredo) for a sticker.  We would get $200 back if we left within 6 months, but that is not happening. 😉 We spent a ton of time & frustration getting our emissions sticker and finally went through Hugo’s mechanic and paid about $750MXN. Insurance (through the school) is about $250MXN a month. We paid a huge bribe when we got pulled over on our first day of DF, but I guess that shouldn’t really count.”

“For specific area concerns, check out the State Dept’s site:    When I came across the last time (2 or 3 years ago), you needed a USA-issued Visa or Mastercard for the temp. car permit. They would take the card info but not charge your card unless you failed to return it. That may be the “6 weeks” that Suzanne mentioned above, but I feel that they explained to me (and I read somewhere) that as long as you gave them valid CC info you’d NEVER be charged anything, even if you never brought the car back to the USA. If you didn’t have a valid CC (like me) you had to pay like $3000 pesos that you would NOT get back unless you returned fairly quickly. Again, my info is 3 years old.”

“If you get pulled over and you weren’t doing anything wrong, don’t roll your window down beyond a crack (to talk) and do NOT hand over your ID. Feign like ur calling the US Embassy, ask for ID from the guy, and get pissed off. I did this 3 years ago in Monterrey and the wanna-by CHiPS cops (on bikes) eventually walked away with tails between legs.”

“I used to get pulled over in Condesa and on the way to school, but somehow–as all semblance of the legality of my car has faded–they don’t bother me anymore. (My CO registration, temp. car permit, and insurance expired years ago.)”


Great tips and advice from Peter Winckers and Lydia who run a tourist and newcomer’s service at Azteca Travels!

Welcome in Mexico City! Some tips to find an apartment of your liking:

1. Decide what you want and be firm. Make a list of your top three to five priorities in an apartment and stick to it. It’s also helpful to know what size apartment you want in square meters. You’re might not going to find the perfect apartment, but it’s good to have this list to weed out all the other places you might be tempted to take, just because you’re so exhausted from looking. When you start thinking, oh, hell, a place for the kitchen table doesn’t really matter, does it? ; take out your list and remember that it does. (Or at least, it did for us :-)).

2. Realize that you will need a fiador, or co-signer, for pretty much any apartment that you’re going to rent. Some American companies will act as fiadors if you’re an expat coming here to work. Unfortunately, there isn’t a list of the city’s certified fiador requirements, so the landlord you’re dealing with can make them as exacting as he likes. The most basic definition of a fiador is someone who owns property in Mexico City. You may need a fiador who owns property and is also mortgagefree. Have all of your ducks in a row before you start looking, that way when you find something, you can start the paperwork process immediately. The fiador must also provide copies of the following: his/her title, a valid ID, his last tax statement (the “predial”), a recent utility bill. The fiador must also be available to sign the rental contract in person.

3. Walk, walk, walk. Once you have your desired neighborhood picked out, put on some comfy shoes and grab your cell phone. Take a day or two to walk around the neighborhood seek out “Se Renta” signs. You could also hire a cab to take you there and cruise around; sitio cab stands tend to charge around 120 pesos per hour. You could also hire a broker, but they usually take a cut of the rent. However, a broker that’s showing you around might be willing to be your fiador for you, assuming they own their own place.

4. If you find an apartment with a “Se Renta” sign that looks interesting, call immediately. Some real estate firms task the doorman with showing the apartment, and if so, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see the place right then. (Also, don’t be surprised if the place is already rented: chilangos are very slow to take down their “Se Renta” signs.) At the very least you can make an appointment to see the place the next day — this is also why it’s a good idea to carry a calendar or a small notebook. The nice apartments go quickly, so if you snooze you lose.

5. If you don’t speak Spanish well, this is a good opening line for when you make that first call: “Hola, buenas tardes. Estoy llamando sobre el departamento en la calle [insert street name here.] Cuántas recameras tiene?” More often than not, as soon as you mention the street name, the broker/owner will cut you off and launch into the apartment’s salient characteristics: “Claro que sí. Mire, éste departamento tiene dos recámeras, dos baños, su cocina integral…” If you are interested, you can then say: “Puedo hacer una cita para verlo?” They will say sure, and you will probably be able to see it later that very day, or the next day.

6. This reminds me: “Cocina integral” is just a fancy way of saying that the sink, stove and cabinets come with the place. Some apartments in Mexico City don’t have this amenity, but if you’re looking in the Roma/Condesa/Cuauhtémoc/Polanco area (where many foreigners tend to live), chances are they will.

7. The quoted rental price is not final. Whaaa? Yes, you heard that right. You can totally negotiate on the rent, and it’s not considered rude. In my experience, brokers will quote you 1,000-2,000 pesos less if you tell them: “Bueno, me encanta el departamento, pero lo que pasa es que queríamos gastar un poquito menos.” (Well, I love the apartment, but it’s that we wanted to spend a little less.)
Then he’ll ask: “How much?” And you will say: “Oh, well, we’re still trying to figure it out, pero no hay posibilidad de oferta?” Oferta roughly means “sale” in English, but in this case, it means an offer of lower rent. At this point, the broker will usually quote you a lower rent, and then say, “If you want it any lower, you’ll have to negotiate with the owner.” You can always negotiate in Mexico. This is one of the great things about this country.

7. Don’t freak out if the broker asks to look at your bank statements. If you find a place that you love, and you start the paperwork process, a common requirement is copies of your bank statements from the past 1-3 months. You may also be asked to provide pay stubs, a letter of recommendation from your current landlord, and a recommendation from your job. (One place I found actually requested ALL of these things, but usually it’s just the bank statements and/or pay stubs, and the fiador.)

8. Most Mexico City apartments do not come with a refrigerator or washer/dryer. Remember that “cocina integral” thing? Yeah, so you get the cabinets and sink, but not the appliances. You must buy those yourself. Some places do include these items, but they’re in the minority — I’d say 3 of 10 places I looked at offered a fridge and centro de lavado.

9. Unless you don’t mind running outside your house at 7 in the morning to refill your gas tank, make sure that the apartment has natural gas. (This is also known as “gas estacionario.”) Many old apartment buildings in Mexico — the vintage, charming art deco buildings in particular — still rely on gas tanks. This means that when you run out, unless you have a backup, you must listen for the gas guy yelling, “Gaaaaas!”, as he does very early in the morning. Then you have to go out and catch him. Some people don’t mind this activity, but I’d rather stick to hailing the pandulce guy.

10. Follow up. Sometimes, even if an apartment is in the process of being rented, the contract will not go through for some reason. (This might be because the fiador wasn’t sufficient, or the person’s ID was expired, etc.) If you love the apartment and the real estate agent tells you, “We’re in the process of signing the papers,” follow up the following week and inquire whether the deal has gone through. Also, leave your number with them, so they can call you with other leads.

Search tips to find your own apartment
A great resource online is ; hereby a direct link to find apartments for rent:…
The site is in Spanish, but you can search by Price Range (precio minimo / precio maxico), number of bed rooms (habitaciones minimo / maximo), surface (surficio minimo / maximo), delegacion (Cuauhtémoc for Colonia Condesa and Colonia Roma ; Miguel Hidalgo for Colonia Polanco); then only indicate Apartments (Departamentos) and /or Houses (casas).

Safety tips
1. If you have made an appointment inform another person about the time and the address were you are going.
2. Ideally don´t visit an apartment alone.
3. Don´t carry jewelry, bank cards, excessive money, laptops, tablets.
4. If you don´t like the appearance or attitude of the person who opens the door LEAVE.
5. Don´t pay any money before obtaining a legal contract and before knowing an address and landline phone of the person who you are dealing with.
6. If it´s a ´cheap deal´ it may be a wrong deal, nothing in life comes free or almost free.
7. Make sure to understand all concepts of renting (monthly payment, additional cost like maintenance, water, light, gas etcetera).

Some Colonias that are great options for your first stay in Mexico City:

Condesa: Condesa is considered to be one of the most fashionable colonias, especially among young businesspeople, artists, students and others. Its character has been compared to that of the Soho in New York and the Latin Quarter in Paris. Its avenues are wide and lined with trees and his has several small parks It is mostly residential but also filled with restaurants, cafés, boutiques and art galleries.

Roma: Roma is a mixed use zone (residential/office) divided into three zones: a mostly commercial area along the main streets to the north (Roma Norte), a cultural area along Alvaro Obregon and the mostly residential Roma Sur. It´s original wide streets, boulevards and small parks filled with trees remain.

Polanco: Polanco is the a group of seven neighborhoods (“colonias”) in Mexico City, located north of Chapultepec Park. The official names of the neighborhoods[citation needed] are: Los Morales (which is divided in three sections), Del Bosque, Polanco Reforma, Polanco Chapultepec, Chapultepec Morales, Bosque de Chapultepec and Residencial del Bosque.

Another indivisual that had apartments at one time and off and on is below:
Cell phone:  55-36-63-80-54
and full name is     Heredia Patricia
Some other sources of info to find apartments:

Here is a contact for someone that owns several apartments all over Condesa and the DF.  He is a good friend of Peter Winckers, Azteca tour guide in Mexico, and Mr. Basurto owns the Condesa Cafe as well.  His contact info is below:

Armando Prado Basurto      cell 0445536667370

Okay, so in talking with some new individuals coming, I managed to scrape together the list of items I always manage to forget – but things I wish I would have brought….:)

So here they are:
In place of a small heater, as the morns and nights can get chilly, if I would have brought 2-3 more blankets, flannel sheets, maybe a comforter, wow, much better! I did not get a heater and am glad, as the electric is so cheap without one, and with the blanket and comforter I bought her, (total maybe, 150.00 USD), I could have saved even that with just bringing blankets and comforter.

I would suggest bringing a good set of sheets, maybe 2 – that you like, you can get any mattress you want here, so don’t worry about that. I had tons of good sheets, even flannel, and wished I would have brought them!

Curtains – YES! Even though I found places that you can get fabric for dirt cheap, it would have been MUCH easier to bring curtains, AND the rings instead of the curtain rod kind, that way you can use any curtains whether you need a curtain rod or you need rings that hang the curtains.

SHOES – OH MYGOSH – I would stock up on at least 2 good running shoes, then 2 good pair of comfy shoes for non running/walking, just the choices here are slim and they do not last as long as good shoes I liked in the U.S. One of my biggest forgets I wish I would not have!

A small radio/alarm, dock for ipod radio if you can. Anything electronic is expensive, this would have solved my radio, alarm clock, etc all in one!

Camera, I would bring two, just in case…:)

hard drive storage – you will want LOTS of pictures, grab an external drive in the states to store all your info on safely, and format it for a MAC and PC, if you use PC, since the school here is all MAC, I had files on my PC, I should have formatted my hard drive for a PC AND a Mac.

Items to drill into cement walls, I could have used a small drill to drill my paintings, frames, etc into the cement walls, as that is pretty dominant here. (This would be drills, drill bits, appropriate for cement) as well as the plugs to put in the walls to secure and not chip the walls.

Sweatpants, running shorts, yes, I should have brought those!

Come to think of it, this sounds strange, but I would have liked it. I wish I would have grabbed an digital audio recorder, those small, fit in your hand recorders that turn on when voice is heard. WOW, I could have carried that around with me and picked up on phrases around me and compared them to the Spanish I was learning.

I am glad I brought/had shipped my scarf, gloves, and hat – not winter here, but cold enough in the AM and evening when I first get that they make me comfortable.

If you want to tour places, a good pair of cross training boots/walking shoes that could be versatile enough for both could not have hurt.

Hmmmm, these things would have been great! Hindsight is 20/20 – mine is usually 20/50, lol.

Oh, this is very strange but wow how useful. The SWIFFER with the wipes that come with them. This would have been the BEST mop (it folds up) and eliminates a bucket, and would be hands down, the BEST thing I could have gotten for cleaning, the mops here, um, well, no. Get a Swiffer, bring it, you will be a happy person. Trust me, it grabs the leftover dust when you mop with a regular mop.


Okay, several great places to check out!

Some sites online to consider:

Mainly Sundays – An artisan on the end of Alavaro Obregon and Cuauhtemoc, named Muebleria Nava, usually has samples of his books and his actual work on this corner.  Prices very reasonable, and he is willing to custom what you want…info below: Meubleria Nava – 0445527225008 and 04572 2431 4175  address is as follows:  Calle 2 Abril Esq. 5 de Mayo L. 2-B   Col. Tizapan  Del. Alvaro Obregon

COSTCO – While Costco does not deliver themselves, you walk out the doors, and Voila!  Drivers are there to deliver so you can get it delivered!

Also – on the Anillo Periferico – going NORTH – keep going until you see the exit BEFORE 1 de Mayo, you will be in the heart of Queretaro, just past Polanco, past Rio San Joacquin, and you will notice a Home Depot on your right, then stores and stores of furniture, LARGE amounts of stores with LARGE amounts of furniture!

Thanks to this reference from Tracy Miller:

Mercado de Muebles Vasco de Quiroga on Av. Insurgentes Sur, esq. Camino a Santa Teresa s/n, en la colonia Peña Pobre, Tlalpan, Distrito Federal, C.P. 14410. It’s open from 10 to 7 daily. If you take the Metrobus on Insurgentes south to the Villa Olimpica station, you walk just a little further south on the right side. There are pickup trucks which will bring ready made furniture to your apartment or the individual craftsmen will arrange for transport if they are making furniture for you.”

Thanks to Bill Cox on this bit of advice:

“There is a place on the corner of Parque Espana and Sonora in Roma Norte that will custom  make furniture for you.  You can bring a drawing and dimensions and they will build it to order.  Als on Saturdays, if you continue to walk along Parque Espana, at Veracruz there is a guy with furniture for sale, and you can continue along Parque Espana to Nueva Leon and several blocks down are 2 more people sellling handmade furniture in the street.”  We have found that the prices have risen here since we first went to them in 2011.

*La Lagunilla Market – Outside of the Centro area!  See link! here... Lots of furniture in and out of the buildings – one of the best places to get mattresses here and trundle beds?  AMAZING – A M A Z I N G prices!  – Rusticos Isaac – 57 72 21 43! Location #10.


Informative site here for sure…VIPS offers Free Wifi

Laughing, this site indicates ONE free hotspot

WiFi cafe spots



If you have any problems with your debit card or the payroll deposit account with BBVA BANCOMER, you may report them or gather information for a report, dialing 5226 2663 for Spanish or 5002 3539 for English.

If you have any problems with your debit card or the payroll deposit account with IXE BANORTE, you should report them or gather information for a report, dialing 5140-5600..

If you get your wallet stolen or cards stolen….

Take it from me,  NEVER, EVER put all your cards in one place, think of what you need to take to an event, and just take the bare minimum, just trust me on this one.  BUT – if you need to get a new replacement credit card say, call this # right away – RIGHT away and cancel the cards – this number they speak English: 5002-3539

-you can request a temporary credit card – your name will not be on it, then find out when the new card will come in but request the permanent card asap.  When your new permanent credit card comes in you will need to pick it up, open the package, and then ask for the NIP number back at the counter, don’t forget this!  THEN – you will get a another envelope, open that, small letters, bottom left a number called NIP – you put your card into the ATM – the first four numbers asked for will be that NIP – then, create a password 4 numbers, and reenter the 4 numbers, and bam!  The card is now VERIFIED!  I THINK the same process exists for the Debito card and the Libreton card, but I am not positive, if this happens with anyone from ASF – (fingers crossed, hope not!) – then let me know if it is the same with these cards, I can’t quite remember….)

Espanol in the Banking realm

This next topic is a biggie, so check out this website, and this will help you with that info!

Numbers for Bancomer:    011 52 55 5624 1131 or  5002 3539

(if in Mexico, just dial 5624, 1199 the #2 gives you  request for English!)

Or stateside:  410 581 0120 and  018002262663

VERY Important to know for rent and such!

Writing Checks in Mexico
This website is a very good introduction to the banking and specifics to writing a check.

Reminder, Al Portador is the same as Cash when you write a check out to someone!

ALSO! TRANSFERRING MONEY to the U.S for various reasons…

WOW! Let me tell you, I have been through the ringer on this one…WHAT I DO – the last option here is the BEST – as it still works since I have arrived and is reliable and reasonable.

Bancomer will transfer accounts in house, but will cost 500 pesos to do so. Unless you are a business, you cannot change the online status of your account to do so for the U.S. bills online etc. If you choose to go into the branch bank to so this, you will need:

Your U.S. Bank ABA number, SWIFT number, U.S. bank phone, fax, address, account number, your passport, your Mexican bank info, bring a receipt or bill with your Mexican address and the Bank in the U.S. statement if you can!

There is a waiting period, three months?, before your Bancomer debit card can be used as a credit card, and used as a credit card so I am hoping when that happens, even though there is a small, real small, fee probably for doing an international transaction, it is cheaper than the 500 pesos, but again, not sure once that debit card can be used as a credit card if this is possible…we will see…


When you come you are set up for a Bancomer banking account. Everyone here complains about Bancomer, all the banks have their restrictions, short comings, etc, but Bancomer is one of the best. I trust them and they offer support all the time to me. After having the debit card, I went into the bank and got an additional card, one called Libreton. Honestly, it does the same thing as my debit card, is just a separate tip eof checking that is not my Debit card I sent it home to someone I trust, and then, when I get paid, I transfer money from where my paychecks are deposited, into my checking, and place them online into my Libreton. They my friend in the U.S takes the money out of the Libreton, through ATM, and sends the bill in for me. It works and I only pay the ATM fee, MUCH money saved.

After I received my FM3, Mexican social security, and RFC number here ( a number associated with taxes) I was able to set up an Intercam account. This is only something you can do after receiving your Mexican working papers, so that is why it is so crucial to have the apostle and all documents to immigration and in perfect order ASAP. With the Intercam account, you get an account number where money gets transferred from your Mexican account to any U.S. account, for free the for the first 6 months. After that there is a small fee, yet, nothing significant. I will let you know that as I find out. Also, it enables me to deposit U.S. checks and they cash them, with the loss of the transfer rate (5 or 10.00) right into the U.S. account. What do you need to do this? FM3, copy, a copy of bill here in Mexico with my Mexican address on it, my Mexican Social Security Number, my RFC # in Mexico, my account info for the U.S. Bank. I go into my Bancomer online, and indicate I want to transfer x amount to my U.S. bank and the SAME day it is there, how cool is that? So, it is imperative you get those items in ASAP because if done right, I think you can maybe get a month lag into the delay and then hopefully that will enable you to eke up with all payments. If yu make 2 -3 months payment ahead of time before you come, just to e sure, then that 3 month period will pass and then you can go right into Intercam and get the info started so you can do this and not pay what everyone else is paying, and saving some dinero each month! 🙂 How does that sound? 🙂 I can help you with the individuals that set this up for you.


Get an online account through Western Union, there seems to be no fee for doing online transfers, but, not sure if I can do from Mexico to the U.S. accounts, waiting on a verdict for that.

Supposedly you can join COMPASS Bank, an associate of Bancomer, and be able to transfer money, I have not learned how to do this yet, and am working on that right now!

Ecommerce/Etrade, if you are in the U.S. (HINT!), and can open a Etrade account, there is supposed to be a way to transfer funds for virtually free using this account to do so. You DEFINITELY want to check this option out.

STAY INFORMED with events! :

Curtains! Check this out…. Don’t go to Sears for curtains! They will be expensive. I recommend going to a fabric store. they have pre-made curtains and rods that are reasonably priced. They can also make curtains if you choose a fabric you like. Also reasonably priced. Telas junco is a big chain. There is one in la colonia Roma norte on Cozumel street, corner of Sinaloa, a few blocks south of Metro Sevilla. Another chain is Telas Parisina. There are several in the city. Important to know….one meter is 39.4 inches as MTO stands for Meters when looking at curtains. Also, Centimeters is important as I noticed centimeters measured, no inches! 30 centimeters equals 12 inches, so take this info with you when you go into JUNCO, the local curtain store, and you will save some money!

News on MEXICO!


Chicken Pollo

Turkey Turquía/ Guajolote

Leg    Pierna

Thigh    Muslo

Breast   Pechuga

Wing    Alas

Beef    Res

Ground Beef  Carne

Molida Round Steak

Pulp    Pulpa

Roast Beef Rosbif

T-Bone T-Bone

Pork Cerdo

Sausage Salchicha

Milk Leche

Butter Mantequilla

Margerine Margarina

Yoghurt Yoghurt

Cheese Queso

Sour Cream Crema Agria

Half-n-Half Media Crema

Eggs Huevos

Bread Pan

Cake Pastel

Cookie Galleta

Pie Pay

Shopping For Food in Mexico by David Eidell (Updated 09/07) 2007 Update

Note: As the years pass more and more gringo foodstuffs are to be found on the shelves of Mexican supermarkets. Below I have edited some of the things that have changed and left intact advice that continues to be current. If you pay close attention and load your rig SOLELY with the correct type of foodstuffs not yet found, you can stretch your ¨warehouse¨ of precious goodies over the course of a full six months or even longer!

To put it bluntly, most folks would get along just fine by taking nothing at all to México. Major destinations within the country lie adjacent to or beyond cities that have huge supermarkets (refer to end of article).

México has changed dramatically in the last fifteen years. But, virtually no one who reads this article is going to pull out of their driveway empty.

However, without some sort of an idea or guideline, the temptation to “Take It All” becomes irresistible once pre-trip shopping begins. Many first time visitors bring far too much food because they are unaware of the similarities in diet between Mexicans and Americans.

Many repeat visitors make the same mistake because they have never bothered to shop in a Méxican supermarket. It may come as somewhat of a shock to some but most of the fresh winter vegetables sold on the West Coast of the United States are grown and packed in México. With this in mind it would be sort of foolish to stuff our rigs full of ‘safe” gringo produce before embarking on a vacation to México.

Sooner or later we end up paying extra for carrying unnecessary weight; the penalty may be in the form of reduced fuel mileage, unappreciated clutter in the cupboards, or the hassle and expense of a blown tire. If the foregoing doesn’t act as a deterrent to your impulsive grocery loading habits, then the following should:

México’s Border Customs Law states that you can legally bring fifty dollars worth of groceries into México. This rule is not always enforced but if a custom’s inspector happens to open a few cupboards and discovers the interior jam packed with canned goods and boxed foodstuffs, he is entitled by law to charge twenty seven point six percent tax on what he estimates the “overage” to be.

Personal experience reveals that your cupboards would have to be bulging before this becomes an issue. Fresh citrus fruits, fruits and vegetables are prohibited.

Except for perhaps apples and fresh corn (and of course exotics like Boysenberries and Raspberries) México has an amazing and satisfying supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. There is no law against bringing frozen fruits and vegetables.

The list below can be used as a general guideline when it comes time to outfit your rig for an extended journey.

Aluminum Foil If you prefer heavy-duty foil bring some from home

Bagels Uncommon. Bring some from home (spread too)

Beans Common. Several varieties and inexpensive

Beef Common, tasty but chewy. Usually sliced thin

Bread Common and inexpensive, but rye and sourdough breads are absent

Broccoli Common and inexpensive

Butter Look for “Lala” brand soft butter or Anchor brand New Zealand Butter. Both are superb

Catsup, Heinz 57 lovers should bring some

Cereals Kid’s sugar cereals are common, otherwise bring your own

Cheese Great selection of cheeses, but of unfamiliar taste

Chicken Common, of excellent quality

Chilies Many different types from mild to mind blowing in intensity

Chocolate Excellent quality. Usually laced heavily with crude sugar

Cigarettes Malbororo is common, others less so

Coconut Very common, very inexpensive

Coffee  If you are fussy bring some from home Otherwise very common

Cookies Some supermarkets are now carrying Oreos and Chips Ahoy!

Cream Excellent. Super Thick. Imported whipped cream is pricey.

Flour Excellent and inexpensive

Garlic Excellent and inexpensive

Hamburger Buns Common and inexpensive

Hot cereals Quaker Oatmeal and Quick oatmeal are very common

Eggs Common and excellent. Brown eggs are called “Rojo” (red)

Herbs – Bring Dill, and Saffron. Otherwise cheap and plentiful

Hot Dogs Both beef and turkey are common and inexpensive

Honey México has some of the best honey on Earth

Jams and Jellies – Common. Apricot, Raspberry, Blackberry uncommon Juice Common, of excellent quality and inexpensive

Macaroni Good quality. Bring exotic pastas from home

Margarine Common. Specialty margarines should be brought from home

Mayonnaise Best Foods and Hellman’s are very common

Milk Common and every bit as costly as in the US. Milk is dated and regularly rotated

Nuts Expensive. A favorite snack item, bring lots from home

Olive oil should be brought from home, otherwise common

Olives Pitted and black olives are rare. Green pitted olives are common

Pet Food Common but expensive. Purina brand is common as is Friskies.

Pickles Bring pickles and relish. They are expensive and quite scarce in Mexico

PeanutButter  Inferior quality and expensive. Look for pricey Skippy.

Pork Excellent quality. Trichinosis is almost unknown (but cook thoroughly)

Radish Common and inexpensive

Rice Very common and slightly starchy

Apples Imported and cost about a dollar a pound

Avocado lovers, rejoice! Common and inexpensive

Bananas Common, several varieties and inexpensive

Cantaloupe Common, of excellent quality and inexpensive

Carrots Common and dirt cheap

Celery Common and around a dollar per bunch

Cauliflower Common and inexpensive.

Corn lovers should bring several bags of frozen corn.

Markets are now carrying excellent corn imported from USA.

Cucumber Very common and inexpensive Grapes Common in season, seeded.

Grapefruit Common, excellent and inexpensive Lemon Yellow lemons are uncommon. Bring frozen if you like.

Lettuce Iceberg is common, other varieties less so Lime Green

Limes are very uncommon
 Limón Méxican “limónes” are common and inexpensive.

Mango A national treasure. Many varieties and superb Onions White, brown and green are common and inexpensive

Oranges Valencia’s are common and superb.

Peanuts Common. Bring freeze dried peanuts if you like them Potatoes Mostly white potatoes. Some tiny reds.

Tomatoes Roma potatoes are modest in price. Beefstake less so.

Kilos Versus Pounds México uses the metric system. A kilogram is roughly 2.2. U.S. pounds. A half-kilo is very near to a pound (mentally form a picture of the weight that you desire in pounds and then form a fraction. By doubling the size of the bottom number of your imaginary fraction you’ll also convert kilos to pounds:

Example: 1/1 change to 1/2 (1 pound is desired which is 1/2 kilo), 1/4 convert to 1/8 (A quarter pound is 1/8 th of a kilo). Liters Converting liters is even easier than converting kilos. A liter contains five percent more than a quart.

Because México imports most of it’s food containers from the U.S. don’t be surprised to find milk jugs and mayonnaise jars (among others) in U.S. rather than metric sizes.

One of the best surprises in México is the vast amount of tropical fruits that are encountered. Mango, Tamarindo, Maméy, Papáya, Zapote, the list is long and delightful. Thankfully México remains unsophisticated when it comes to “treating” fruit before it comes to market. It is usually picked ripe or very green: The former is usually much superior in taste and texture to U.S. fruit as found in the supermarket. Green fruits can ripen in the cupboard.

Méxican oranges are usually found ripe with a mottled green and orange colored skin. They are sweeter than U.S. oranges that are picked and then gassed (when they are still fully green) to force them to turn orange.

If you are a steak eater, it’s best to bring some from home. Méxican hamburger is not up to what most Americans prefer in ground beef. Méxican pork is excellent and Méxican bacon is superior to U.S. brands.

Bring sausage, pepperoni, and salami, but leave bologna, and hot dogs behind. Méxican turkey is good but rather uncommon. Méxican sausage tends to be very spicy and full of fat.

Update: I have been having excellent luck ordering custom cuts of beef at the meat counter at a local Soriana (national chain) Supermarket. If your Spanish is poor, pick up a foam package of whatever cut you wish and then pinch your thumb and forefinger together to show how thick you want it cut. If anything err on the fat side, as they’ll always bring out a sample first to ensure compliance with your dimension.

Costco warehouses vend Canadian beef, excellent and pricey. Méxican supermarkets sell a variety of mayonnaises, including Kraft and Hellman’s.

Note that most Mexican mayos these days are juiced up with limon juice.

If you want to find the regular mayo look for Best Foods. Regular mustard is common, specialty mustards are uncommon. Bring spicy mustards from home.

Snacks form an important “ritual” in most people’s lives. Make an extra effort to include those munchies that you find indispensable.

Familiar brands and types of canned soups are common but they taste different. They are also quite pricey. Canned Tuna is abysmal, expensive or both. Canned vegetables are available at modest cost but of mediocre quality.

Bring specialty crackers (saltines are very common). Bring English muffins, . Irradiated fresh milk is common and inexpensive.

Candy is extremely common, but bring special stuff from home. Fresh fish is common and familiar.

Seafood is common and usually quite fresh.

Vitamins used to be uncommon. Today you can find a good assortment of vitamins and minerals at a discount farmacia chain know as Farmacia Similares.Orange Pekoe, and Darjeeling teas are unknown.

Coffee is expensive and rather disappointing in flavor. French Roast coffee is available in varous shoppes but you’ll have to querey your camping neighbors if they know of a local outlet. A particularly good store is called “La Selva” and is located in the Chiapas city of San Cristobal de Las Casas. A real find is called La Surtidora, and is found on the big plaza in the city of Patzcuaro, Michoacan. Freeze dried coffee is common and quite good.

Sugar is dirt-cheap.

Some supermarkets are now carrying dark brown sugar.  For a completely gringo treat I always bring a bottle of real maple syrup and a small box of pancake mix.

Vinegar is common, but I bring my own wine and Balsamic vinegars. If you are fussy about the type and brand of bottled salad dressing bring some from home.

I shall repeat an important point: Snacks form an important point in many people’s lives.  If you are subject to “getting the munchies” at midnight at home, then suddenly find yourself “cut off” far from home, you are more likely to become irritable (a manifestation of homesickness). Instead of burdening the already groaning overload springs with Bomb-Shelter quantities of food staples, focus instead on provisioning your trip with adequate snacks. Even if you later discover that you prefer fresh mango over pretzels, you can trade those extra goodies for (perhaps) a slice of fresh baked pie offered in appreciation for your good deed.

Spices and condiments individualize our personal tastes in seasoned food. Although Méxican markets stock an amazing variety of spices, such specialties as granulated garlic, coarse ground pepper, exotic mustards, horseradish, and seasoning salts should be brought from home.

Pickles and relish should be brought from home. I have yet to find “Eneldo” fresh dill here.

Not a food item: The trading of English language paperback novels is an institution in Mexico. Bring several recent novels, or several copies of tabloid, or newsy magazines, a Sunday newspaper (even if it’s a month old) or other bit of Americana. You can be assured that other grateful “paper starved” travelers will read them until they fall apart.

Bakery Stores

Sliced white bread and wheat bread are becoming extremely common in México. However, traditional Méxican bread comes in the form of miniature “French Bread Loaves” called Bolillos (pronounced bo-LEE-oh, or bo-LEE-ohs). Mexicans are fond of sweet bread. Over the centuries traditional bakeries (called panaderías) sprang up all throughout the country. Bread in Spanish is Pan .

Most of the bakeries were spare rooms in homes. Massive adobe brick ovens are fired with firewood in the middle of the night and by dawn trays of rolls, cookies, and Bolillos are being baked. It really isn’t necessary to have a glossary of the various forms of baked goods — cookies, rolls and Bolillos are easily identified. Customers grab a plastic tray and a pair of tongs (self-restraint in a big asset here but everyone ends up buying way too much) and help themselves. The baked goods contain no preservatives so it’s best to shop often and purchase less. By the way the national brand bread company ” Bimbo” offers excellent hamburger buns and hot dog buns (they taste the same as ours).

Carnecería Méxican butcher shops

(The word “Carne” means meat) are not for the squeamish. Mexicans love to eat parts of steers and hogs that sensitive gringos never think about. Butchering (thankfully the actual coup de grace of the animal is done elsewhere) is done right behind the meat display case. The aroma of ultra-fresh meat plus the sight of flies buzzing around the inside of the shop may be more than what you bargained for.

Butchers that are used to strange gringo eating habits will anticipate an order for ” Bistec”, and (usually) won’t puzzle over your desire for inch-thick steaks. Otherwise it’s best to pantomime the size of the steak with both hands, then pinch thumb and forefinger together to indicate the thickness desired.

Tortillería Tortillas de Harina are made from flour, while Tortillas de Maize are from corn. Most tortillaria’s sell either corn or flouræ but not both. The cost is about fifty five cents a pound. Mass produced tortillas are pale imitations of the real thingæ those made by hand. Comparing one to the other is like comparing fresh, hot; home baked bread to mass-produced supermarket bread in the US. Regardless of the origin fresh tortillas are much better than the ones that you find in the Deli section in a US market. The real value of a tortilla is when you wrap it around something good to eat and consume it as a taco.

Pastelería Literally “Pastry-eria”. This is the store that sells cakes (including elaborate wedding cakes), “pay” pronounced just like our “pie”, fruit turnovers, and all of the other diet destroying temptations that will drive you mad. Prices tend to be very reasonable. Compared to the ultra-fine texture of US pastries, Mexican pastries tend to seem a little coarse in composition. Frutería Similar to a produce Mart in the USA.

Fruterias tend to have a much greater variety of fruits and vegetables than all but the largest Méxican supermarkets. Prices average twenty to thirty percent lower also. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a slice of vine ripened watermelon in January. Note: Some folks will tell you to not bother shopping for fruits and vegetables in a supermarket—this is just plain wrong.

Many times you will find goodies like romaine lettuce, fresh spinach and other goodies that are missing in the public markets. Wal-Mart and offshoot Bodega Aurrera are especially good at binging in good quality vegetables from afar.

Our local Soriana super store has a pile of heavy and rock hard (this spells juicy!) washington apples. Dulcería “Dulce” in Spanish means “sweet”, and from the number of candy stores in the country Mexicans are obviously very fond of candy. Chocolate lovers may wish to try a milk chocolate bar by the name of Carlos Quinto. Look for a brown wrapper with the name “Carlos V” on it.

Dulcerias have bulk wrapped candies available for stuffing inside a piñata.

Another favorite is shredded coconut bars (white or pink) called ” Cocada”.

Pescadería Specialty fish stores are in evidence in medium sized towns. They might tend to sell fillets of fish rather than the whole fish.

Sea bass is quite common, as is corbina, and warm water cod.

Most pescaderias also sell fresh seafood which may vary in quality and freshness.

Liquor Brandy

México produces some of the best brandies in the world.

Gin Good enough to spike your Beefeater’s with

Mescal A cheaper relative of Tequila

Rum México produces excellent quality Rum.

Castillo brand is superb

The finest (over a hundred dollars a bottle) and rival five hundred dollar cognac

Also good
- Whisky Dismal.

Scotch, and Whisky should be brought from home

Wine Fairly good selection and quality.

The Petit Sirah is superb.

Monte Xanic from Baja has a blended red that can be compared to Cheateau Mouton Rothchild!

Beer Bohemia It’s supposed to be the best beer in México. We’ll let you decide

Carta Clara Found in Yucatán. Excellent quality

Corona Light Pilsner-type beer

Modélo Darker bock style.

Modélo Negro is quite dark.

Montejo Another Yucatecan brew.

Also excellent

Noche Buena Bock beer available only during the Christmas season

Pacifico Pilsner beer

Sol Lite beer Méxican style

Tecáte Slightly stouter Pilsner.

Bottled Tecáte has a different flavor than canned Ice Ice plants are common in México.

Ice is called Hielo (pronounced Ee-yellow).Ice plants are known as Fabricas de Hielo (pronounced FAB-ri-ca day, ee-YELLOW). Unlike ice cubes which by law must be made with purified water, ice plants generally use city tap water to make huge blocks of ice (called Marquetas (pronounced mar-KETTAS). An eighth of a marqueta weighs about fifteen pounds and will fill a standard ice chest.

Note: Ice plants are usually open seven days a week. Use bagged ice cubes for drinks. Ice plants usually operate on ammonia (much more efficient than Freon) but traces of ammonia frequently taint the ice — this won’t affect foods cooled by the ice in chests, but poses a health hazard if the ice or water is consumed in drinks.

Shopping Tips

Méxican supermarkets have shopping carts. Purchases will be carefully bagged in those thin (annoying) plastic bags just like in the states. I strongly recommend that you purchase at least two heavy canvas bags with handles in the US before you leave. In rural Indian markets your purchases will undoubtedly be made in smaller quantities but here you will find no bags at all.

Collapsible fabric “ice chests” are wonderful for transporting a bag of ice cubes across town on a bus. U.S. marine hardware stores (and others) sell excellent collapsible wheeled carts; they’re not cheap but can be a real chore saver. Long-term residents of RV parks seem to be always aware of bargain hot spots. Bottled Méxican beer is about forty percent cheaper than canned beer. The bottles are returnable and require a deposit which almost doubles the price. Of course the deposit is refundable when you turn the bottles back in.

Every town has one particular ” Deposito” that consistently under-prices the others. Méxican soft drinks taste better than the same brands as bottled in the US. The reason is because Mexican soft drinks are sweetened with lots of sugar. Sidral de Manzana means “Cider of Apple”, and this flavor is a standout — something like a blend of soda and juice. Major brands of cola are sold in cans as well as bottles. Diet colas are available in the cans only.

Note:canned drinks have the standard pull top plug. Beer trucks roam the countryside and will sell directly to the customer.

Also present are soft drink trucks and heavy users can arrange to have a “weekly” or bi-weekly purchase delivered directly to their RV space or campsite. These guys are unbelievably knowledgeable about streets, addresses, and locations of isolated Hot Springs, resorts, and other trivia. Sooner of later you’re going to want to buy one of those hand held cast aluminum juice squeezers for limes. They are called “Exprimadores” and are usually found in hardware stores rather than grocery stores. Indian Markets Open-air markets are found mainly in central and southern México. They are called “tianguis” tee-AHN-gees which is a native word for marketplace.

Everything from potatoes to shoelaces to wonderful weavings is found at these amazing markets. Quantities bought and sold tend to be minor in size, but socially to the Indians the markets are interactive “happenings”. Polite and respectful bartering over the price of an item to be purchased is part of the social interaction. Unaware tourists who pay the asking price (for whatever reason) of an item are secretly sneered at rather praised for their generosity.

The vendor will believe (quite correctly) that the amount of money involved is of no consequence or significance to the buyer (or perhaps they believe “This one is a bit daft”). After years of experience I can offer a bit of advice: To get a feel for the going price for say tomatoes, I’ll ask “Cuanto Cuesta” (How much does it cost). I will ask this question of two or three adjacent vendors. Then I will mentally deduct thirty percent off the price and then be willing to pay that amount (or slightly more — the rule is not iron clad) Most of the time thirty percent off will take the price very near to what protracted haggling will. I always carry a pocket bulging with small-denomination coins as Indian vendors seldom offer change (small differences are made up in the form of a few onions or a small orange). It would be a great help to carry a peso “cheat sheet” and pocket calculator which can be referred to when trying to figure out prices in U.S. currency.

As a final note, many Indian vendors sell fruits and vegetables that are very small and sometimes withered or bruised. They aren’t trying to rip you off; the produce was undoubtedly grown in a tiny garden plot high in the mountains without benefit of fertilizer or pesticides. Never ridicule or belittle their inventory in an attempt to get a better price. Doing so will just create hard feelings and you’ll probably discover that the price has suddenly skyrocketed.

General Glossary (Includes all types of stores)

Abarrotes Ahb-ah-ROW-tes Groceries

Carneceria Car-nay-cer-EE-yah Butcher Shop

Dulceria Dool-ceh-REE-ah Candy and more candy

Fabrica de Hielo FAH-breek-ah ee-Yell-oh Bulk ice plant

Ferretería Fair-ah-té-REE-ah Hardware store

Fruteria Froo-te-REE-ah Specializes in fruits and vegetables

Gasolineria Gah-so-leen-air-EE-ah Gasoline (Pemex) station

Panaderia Pahn-ah-dehr-EE-ah Baked goods, Bolillos and cookies

Pastelería Pah-stel-ah-REE-ah Pastry Shop

Pescaderia Peh-skeh-dehr-REE-ah Fresh fish and mariscos (seafood)

Plomeria Ploh-mah-REE-ah Plumbing supply store

Refaccionaria Reh-fack-see-on-air-EE-ya Automobile parts store

Supermercádo Super mer-CAH-do A larger grocery store

Tiénda Tee-EN-dah A store (of any kind)

Tienda Rural Tee-EN-dah roo-ALL Tiny, subsidized rural grocery stores

Tortilleria Tor-tee-ah-REE-ah Harina is wheat.

Maize is corn

Names Of Some Large Grocery Chain Stores

Gigante Hee-GAWN-tay

Commerciál Méxicana Coh-mer-SEE-all Meh-hee-CAWN-ah

Ley Lay
Sam’s Club Sawhm’s clube (Same stores as in the USA)

Costco* COAST-coh (Same stores as in the USA)

* Méxican Costco Stores are now part of a World-Wide network and membership is universal. You can join Costco in Mexico and use your card in the USA. Renewals can be done in Mexico as well!

Cooperative Dry Goods Stores
México’s two largest HMO organizations operate discount price dry goods stores that are open to the public. Inside you’ll find everything from canned salsa to laundry soaps (many sell washing machines and refrigerators).

Although beer isn’t sold here, hard liquor is. Prices range about twenty percent to forty percent lower than in a supermarket. The stores are worth seeking out.

Ask for them by name: Tienda IMSS (pronounced with a long e: e-em-es-es), or Tienda ISSSTE (pronounced: IS-tay). Old timers may remember government subsidized grocery stores by the name of Conasúpo. The stores were phased out in the early 1990’s — to be replaced on a much smaller scale by country stores called Tienda Rural.

Cargo Trucks Parked On The Shoulder Truckers sometimes sell excess fruits and produce right out of the back of a truck. Look for six and ten wheeled trucks parked on the shoulder with part of the load stacked on the ground behind the truck. Scales are used and prices tend to be rock bottom.

It is common to find cantaloupe for ten cents a pound, tall sacks of Valencia oranges for four dollars, potatoes, onions, Roma tomatoes, just about anything that grows locally.


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