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Old 02-17-2021, 10:39 PM   #1
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Necesario?

For those of you who have (or are) cruised Mexico quite a bit:
Did you speak/understand Spanish before you went? Did you learn it while there? How necessary to have a good experience from Sea of Cortez down to at least Z-town?
Thanks for any advice. The new ride we just bought is down there and we are trying to figure out if we should bring here straight up to the PNW or spend a year or two down there.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:28 PM   #2
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Did you speak/understand Spanish before you went? Did you learn it while there? How necessary to have a good experience from Sea of Cortez
If you stay at marinas and eat in expensive restaurants you will get by with english. If you travel off the beaten path or go inland at all you will need spanish.

DuoLingo on an IPad is a good way to start. Spanish language classes are very inexpensive in Mexico. A month of 1/2 day classes will give you basic skills.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:32 PM   #3
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Many in the service industries and marinas and doing customs etc. speak at least some English. Learning a little Spanish goes a long way in good will. But for the most part you will be able to get by.

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Old 02-17-2021, 11:40 PM   #4
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taco, agua, towno, watermelono, boxa de shoesa, ... just add an "o" or an "a." Be sincere, make an effort, and keep a smile
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:48 PM   #5
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As Hollywood says, you will encounter no difficulty. We haven't cruised Mexico, but we vacation in Puerto Vallarta every winter (May this year, as soon as we are vaccinated.) My wife and I have atrophied college Spanish and the locals are often amused by our attempts, but they seem glad that we try, and I would recommend that you do so too.


There are lots of digital resources; a couple hours a day for a couple weeks would do a lot for you. I use Rosetta Stone for my annual one-week refresher, but there are many cheaper and some are free. My public library offers one called Mango for free which looks pretty good.

Google Translate is your friend, I keep it active on my phone screen.
Two useful phrases:
Mas despacio, por favor
and
Mi amigo pagará
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Old 02-18-2021, 12:21 AM   #6
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In addition to the advice to learn a bit of Spanish and make an effort I'll add learn the phrase "Lo siento, no hablo español" when dealing with authorities. Address them by their title in Spanish. Follow up with the above phrase. All will be good.
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Old 02-18-2021, 06:34 AM   #7
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Greetings,
Mr. kw. The MOST important words in any language, IMO, are "Thank you".
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Old 02-18-2021, 06:52 AM   #8
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I have traveled in Mexico a fair amount, own property in Playa del Carmen (south of Cancun), and like going inland. My Spanish is on par with a 2-year old.....maybe. I get by okay. My big regret is not being able to have even a basic conversation with local people - taxi drivers, etc. Mexicans are enormously kind and welcoming people - it's a very comfortable place to travel for me. I was in a small town in the interior of the Yucatan Penninsula that was known for smoked meats ("Carne ahumado"). I ate a small outdoor restaurant where their English was non-existent. Somehow, I talked my way into a tour of their smokehouse, basically a giant carport out back with concrete bunkers where they smoked their meats. They were proud of their work, and I was eager to learn. There is no language barrier for food.

Another example. I'm having a major refit wrapping-up in Ensenada. The shop foreman - Luis, is incredibly talented. He understands a little English, but speaks almost none. Yet we communicate very well on mechanical items.

Traveling in a land where you do not know the language requires a flexible attitude and an adventurous spirit. Not uncommon to intend to order one thing but receive another (Sope - a type of open taco - versus Sopa, a soup). If those types of surprises bug you, or if you're stuck eating only the things you recognize and know, it will get old really quickly.

30-years ago I had an old VW Westfalia (Orange) that I used to drive down Baja and beach-camp between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so 4-5 weeks. At the time, gas stations were sort of sparse, and the RV folks were prone to suck the tanks dry. My VW only had a range of about 250-miles. I think it was the morning of New Years day. I had camped in the desert and gotten up early to drive to the nearest Pemex and got there about an hour before it opened at 7AM. Not a problem - I had my van door open and was making coffee and breakfast. Before too long, the line of big RVs formed. 7 o'clock came and went without anyone opening the gas station. A guy from an RV came up to me, clearly agitated "What time does this place open?"

"Seven o'clock" says I.

He does a double-take looking at his watch - "It's seven-thirty! Why aren't they open? What is wrong with this place - all they have is this F@#-ing Bimbo bread." Mind you, he was headed further south, not north.

Now, in my bright orange VW, there is no way I could be mistaken for a Mexican let alone anyone associated with Pemex.

"Traquillo senior. Queres cafe?" ("Calm down. Would you like a cup of coffee?") was all could muster. My point being is that if you expect things to work as they do in the US, well, it will not be a fun trip no matter how good your Spanish is. There will be times where the fuel dock has plenty of fuel but no electricity to pump it.

You will stick out. You will be a target for mild scam. For some reason, the moment someone puts on a green Pemex gas station jump suit, they revert to a few well known scams aimed mostly at tourists. I have bumped into the occasional cop who wants his tourist-tax, and that really sucks (not in Baja though). Waiting in traffic to cross the border you will likely have someone clean your windshield (surprisingly, they do a decent job). You can be outraged, or you can give a small tip to a very poor person (even a 5-peso coin is appreciated - about 25-cents USD). But overall, it's a great country with issues. It is not as cheap as they say it is (never has been if the truth be told), but it is definitely affordable.

Language barrier is only as bad as you make it. If it bugs you, well, it will bug you. It's up to you whether it is a barrier. The Mexicans will make due with however you can communicate. By and large, they are a warm and welcoming culture. It's a relatively poor country with resourceful people. Language will not be a barrier. Attitude can be.

Enjoy.

Peter
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klee wyck View Post
For those of you who have (or are) cruised Mexico quite a bit:
Did you speak/understand Spanish before you went? Did you learn it while there? How necessary to have a good experience from Sea of Cortez down to at least Z-town?
Thanks for any advice. The new ride we just bought is down there and we are trying to figure out if we should bring here straight up to the PNW or spend a year or two down there.
A W30 owner with his boat in SE Alaska purchased a W40 in San Carlos, quite a ways up the SoC. He planned on bringing it to Alaska but ended up leaving the boat in San Carlos. He spends winters in the Sea, summers in Alaska. He prefers Alaska, but not by much I suppose. That was 10-years ago.

He turned me on to this use-group. Low activity but great on-ground information on the Pacific side of Mexico/Central America

https://groups.io/g/southbound-group

Peter
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:30 AM   #10
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As others have said, when traveling off the beaten path, some knowledge of the language is helpful. Attitude is more important than language skills. Be polite and humble as opposed to the normal ignorant tourists that talk down to the locals. Smile. Learn the greatings. Say thank you. I cave dive in some very off the beaten bath areas. One of the first words to master is Banos (bathroom).

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Old 02-18-2021, 08:46 AM   #11
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You've got good advice on the language part. For the cruising part, yes stay down there awhile; I'd love to spend a year or two cruising the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of Mexico. Bring your fishing and diving gear!
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:20 AM   #12
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Excellent input folks, thanks.
I have been around Spanish for my whole career but never have become fluent. Barnyard Spanish we call it, but sounds like that will get us started.
We will also use an online Spanish utility in the meantime to sharpen up a little.
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:40 AM   #13
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One time in a mexican restaurant, in mexico of all places. The waiter spoke english no problem. The server did not as I found out when I asked a question. I gave him the wait a moment finger and turned on pre installed two way goggle translator.
I spoke phone repeated in spanish, he spoke spanish it repeated in english. We had a conversation. He was so impressed he brought me his phone and asked me to install the app, which I did. We tested it and he was a happy camper showing it off to other staff.
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:43 AM   #14
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Your pocito Spanish will be fine!
If you can putt around in Sea of Cortez do it.

I'd say your bigger probemas will be getting spare parts in a timely manner as you get to know your new boat.

I've spent cumulative 4 years out of the last 14 wintering here, here now in baja sur and love it. Should you make it to bahia de conception ill buy the first cervesas.
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:50 AM   #15
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Your pocito Spanish will be fine!
If you can putt around in Sea of Cortez do it.

I'd say your bigger probemas will be getting spare parts in a timely manner as you get to know your new boat.

I've spent cumulative 4 years out of the last 14 wintering here, here now in baja sur and love it. Should you make it to bahia de conception ill buy the first cervesas.
I would look forward to that!
The boat and her current owners are currently in Zihua and looking for a window to get to the dry yard in Guaymas across the Sea from you. About 7 hours across?
Keep an eye out for DOMINO, she is a 65' power cat.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:00 AM   #16
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Bill, that looks Ike a good times boat! We've used trailer boats last few seasons to get into small hidey holes, lots of fun.

My place is in Mulege, most big boats go down the bay a bit to more comfortable anchorages.
Fuel dock in Santa Rosalia. We'll be here for another month or so, then north to get stuck with a needle. Have fun with the nice cat!
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Old 02-18-2021, 05:07 PM   #17
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Excellent input folks, thanks.
I have been around Spanish for my whole career but never have become fluent. Barnyard Spanish we call it, but sounds like that will get us started.
We will also use an online Spanish utility in the meantime to sharpen up a little.

Weebles' long post above pretty much covers it. I'd disagree just a bit about tipping, Mexican coins are small, awkward and not always clear as to value, but remember a peso is a Gringo nickel. The blue 20 peso note is the ubiquitous tip...a buck. Some truly special act may be worth a 50. Another thought: the symbol for peso is $. A little disorienting when you first see it, and when totaling your credit card bill you might find it reassuring to write $M ...

I like to find restaurants full of Mexicans and then ask "what are they having?" Seldom disappoints.

One problem I encounter is that I once had sufficient proficiency that I can at the age of 77 "internally rehearse" the things I want to say as I anticipate the situation. i.e. "Let's see, how would I ask the mariachis to play Alma Llanera?" and it often comes out very well. Then the mariachi wishes to discuss the folkloric history of the song and I am tornillado...

Come to think, at 77, I have the same problem in English. Que lastima.


remember, the most beautiful phrase in the Spanish language:
Mi amigo pagara'


Soy Memo de Oregon
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Old 02-18-2021, 05:35 PM   #18
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One place where language barrier may be a problem is customs and emigration. Those folks seldom speak English. The workaround is to hire an agent. Nicer marinas always have someone who can assist. You need to check out when you leave and check in at the next port.

Also, since Domino was already in Mexico, she has a TIP. That needs to be canceled or you will be unable to get a new one which is no end of grief.

Peter
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:30 PM   #19
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Weebles' long post above pretty much covers it. I'd disagree just a bit about tipping, Mexican coins are small, awkward and not always clear as to value, but remember a peso is a Gringo nickel. The blue 20 peso note is the ubiquitous tip...a buck. Some truly special act may be worth a 50. Another thought: the symbol for peso is $. A little disorienting when you first see it, and when totaling your credit card bill you might find it reassuring to write $M ...

I like to find restaurants full of Mexicans and then ask "what are they having?" Seldom disappoints.

One problem I encounter is that I once had sufficient proficiency that I can at the age of 77 "internally rehearse" the things I want to say as I anticipate the situation. i.e. "Let's see, how would I ask the mariachis to play Alma Llanera?" and it often comes out very well. Then the mariachi wishes to discuss the folkloric history of the song and I am tornillado...

Come to think, at 77, I have the same problem in English. Que lastima.


remember, the most beautiful phrase in the Spanish language:
Mi amigo pagara'


Soy Memo de Oregon
Excellent advice! I just need to find that amigo or I will be tornillado!
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:02 PM   #20
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Perhaps we can hold Spanish classes on the back porch.
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