This was my first visit to Mexico. I had to cross the border by land from San Diego. One of my US colleagues named Ron, who had previously visited Mexico before joined me and so, that made it easy. But even otherwise, entering Mexico is not very difficult but that also may make you drive across the border without proper papers. If you are a visitor, then you have to drive to a building on the right, at the border. I do not recollect seeing any clear directions towards the building. At a deserted office, you need to fill a form with some basic details and hand it over to the officer. With a valid US visa, you could enter Mexico. If you are visiting for 7 days or less, then its free; If higher, then there is a fee, i think it is around $20.
So, once our permit got approved, we drove past the border. Our taxi driver was a very jovial man and spoke less english. I tried to converse a bit with him in Spanish. It felt good to apply all my learnings. He particularly wanted to know if there were cinépolis in Bangalore and when I said yes, he was very happy and said that he now believed the newspapers and was proud of the fact that the Mexican company is going global.
When you cross the border from the US to Mexico, you almost immediately feel the difference. The border city of Tijuana is densely populated with small houses and buildings almost touching one another. That did remind me of a crowded city in India. The rules of driving were not strictly followed as much as it is done in the US but it is not as bad as in India either. There were people walking on the streets and that made me feel good.
I mostly spent the week at Ensenada and did drive to a small town called Tecate for a day. At Ensenada, the hotel our company usually books is one of the best in the city - Hotel Coral & Marina. It has a beautiful view of the All Saints bay. Whenever I got a chance, I would walk by the bay, though we had no access to the sea.
The week that I spent in Mexico was amazing, simply because the people are so friendly and nice. Remotely, it did feel like home. The people I met at our factory, the taxi drivers I interacted with, the hotel staff, everyone were so humble and friendly.
One of the evenings, Ron threw a grand dinner party for about 25 colleagues at a Sushi bar. It was a great evening and I got to know some of my Mexican colleagues. After the dinner, Pedro and Javier took me to one of the oldest bars (Or Canteena) in Ensenada called Houssong's. The atmosphere there was interesting and very different from the bars I had seen elsewhere. There were only two or three tables in the entire bar. Everyone else were just holding a beer and standing. A group of musicians were playing Norteño music. Everybody else surrounded them and kept chatting in their little groups and occasionally swayed to the music. There was hardly any place to stand. No body seemed to eat much there except for groundnuts and beer. We met some other colleagues from office and I met a hotel staff. We tried the electric shock offered for a fee, which I thought was crazy but fun.
What I liked the most was that the youngsters seemed to appreciate the traditional Mexican music. I enjoyed speaking to my wonderful hosts - Pedro and Javier from office.
Rest of the week, I tried to book taxi through the reception and tried to converse in Spanish with the taxi drivers. I also tried speaking Spanish to the servers at the restaurants I visited and it worked perfectly okay to make short conversations - basically to survive. However, I do need to improve to make descent conversations with people.
All in all the week in Mexico was awesome!