1. Hole in the wall restaurant owners may also be former luchadors (Mexican professional wrestlers) and regale you with stories from their times in the ring… you don’t know until you ask.
2. Baby goat, cabrito, is a popular dish in northern Mexico. If you ask, you might be able to help prepare one (i.e., chop one in half with a meat cleaver).
3. The 8 peso (50 cent) tacos from a street stall will be the best tacos you’ve ever had. If you’re spending more than that on a taco you’re getting ripped off (try out the taco stall, Taco’s Campeon, across from the Santa Fe tunnel in Guanajuato for the best ones we’ve come across).
4. You do not get instantly murdered or kidnapped when you cross the Mexican border. In fact, despite what you read in the news, there’s almost a 0% chance of this happening – hundreds of thousands of people do it every day.
5. A stroll through Zacatecas at night will be one of the most enchanting walks of your life. Golden lights bathe the colonial era buildings, creating a cityscape unlike anywhere else in the world.
6. Mexico City is infinite, containing a piece of every type of world in this one city. But in general, it is more modern than many American cities.
7. Burritos are an American obsession. Tacos, tortas and quesadillas dominate the cheap food landscape south of the border.
8. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Tulum… these are all amazing destinations, but they don’t tell the full story of Mexico. There is another side of Mexico outside of the resort, a Mexico with a different type of unimaginable beauty, awaiting you with open arms and delicious tacos. Check out Guanajuato, San Cristobal de Las Casas, or the small beaches of Oaxaca for incredibly unique and authentic experiences.
9. The Anthropological Museum in Mexico City is one of the most epic museums you’ll ever see. Give yourself a day to explore.
10. Oaxaca is a state full of artisans. One of the most famous artesian products they produce is their rugs. The signature red dye in these rugs is made from crushing up a dried bug picked from a cactus.
11. Every Friday night, for less than $20, you can see a professional luchador match at Arena Mexico in Mexico City. Buy your own luchador mask for 120 pesos (~$10) and really get into the fun.
12. Don’t feel like you missed out on anything if you don’t buy a pumpkin flower quesadilla in the Oaxaca City center. They’re a bit meh. The mole, on the other hand, is a can’t miss.
13. When drinking mezcal, you can eat the worm. Spoiler alert: it tastes like crispy worm.
14. The guide books are great, but don’t be shy in asking a local about the hidden gems of the town or city you are in. There may be restaurants, caves, waterfalls and more that you’d never know about without asking around.
15. If you stumble across a parade, make sure to stop and check it out. It’s not unlikely that a friendly local will invite you to join them in their celebration.
16. The best quesadillas in the world are in San Cristobal de Las Casas. They call it “No Name”. We went back two days in a row and sampled quesadillas with fresh squid, green chorizo, baby shark, roast lamb, and more. The menu changes every day (closed on Wednesdays). Get there at exactly 8:15 to have your pick of the menu before it runs out!
17. Street performers and wandering hippies are generally really nice. The crafts they’re peddling on the street were likely made by hand with genuine effort and pride.
18. The people of Chiapas are fiercely independent and protective of their land and way of life in a way that makes you wish you were as passionate about anything as they are about their community.
19. The waterfalls at Roberto Barrios are in Zapatista controlled land, but don’t be afraid. The scenery is breathtaking and the people are kind. There are cheap accommodations and personal tours through the falls and surrounding jungle that will show you more than you’d be able to see on your own.
20. You might only expect to stay in a city for a day, but you’ll probably end up staying for three or more, no matter where you go. Build this into your schedule.
21. If you are a respectful and loving gringo, the Mexican people will be respectful and loving back, 100x over. The Mexican people, diverse as they are, treated us with the most inviting hospitality and showered us with great times. We are so sad to have left but even more excited to come back.