A Few More Details You Should Know
Many Americans become uneasy at the thought of travel to Mex-
ico. Yes, if you don't speak any Spanish, you'll have to deal with
that, but in my experience—in Mexico, France, Italy, Hungary,
and China—you'll find that a lot of people speak English, and
some of your best memories will be from encounters with people
who don't. As with any trip abroad, however, you can enhance
your Mexican travel experience and minimize the possibility of
any problems along the way with a bit of study and some com-
monsense preparation ahead of time.
Crossing the Border
Assuming you're going to Mexico as a visitor and will be staying
less than six months, you'll need a passport and a tourist card.
You must obtain the passport in advance, but you can get a tour-
ist card when you cross the border or, if you're flying to Mexico,
at the airline counter before you leave.
I've said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating here: Make
photocopies of all your travel documents before you leave home.
This includes your passport, tickets, and itinerary. Keep one set
of copies with you when you travel and leave another set with
someone back home.
¿Habla usted Español?
It's always great to be able to speak another language when trav-
eling. But if you don't speak Spanish, don't let that deter you. Get
a simple Spanish phrase book and work on the basics, and I mean
the real basics. And don't worry: you'll find everyone friendly
and more than willing to deal with you in rudimentary English
or simple gestures. (The first phrase I learned was “Lo siento, no
hablo Español,” or “I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish.” The first