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Mexican body language and greetings

A handshake is always made upon any meeting. Even a waiter in a restaurant may give you a handshake. If you become friends you might get a handshake and light hug. This can be unsettling for Canadian and American men who only do this when playing and winning the World Series or when meeting a long lost Army buddy they haven’t seen in 35 years.
When a man greets a women there is a slight bow and handshake (not as much as the Japanese but it is noticeable). On subsequent visits between a man and woman (or between two women) there will probably be a light hug and the sound of a kiss on the cheek though the cheek is rarely touched unless it is a real close friend. You always go for the right cheek.

Tapping your index finger and thumb together means, “just a minute please, I’ll be right with you.”

Raising your arm slightly and touching your elbow implies that the person being looked at is �cheap.�

Wiggling the index finger back and forth means �No.�

Pointing to your eye means �look or be careful�

Patting an invisible dog on the head means �come here.�

Note for Germans: Mexicans do not count the thumb as 1. Thus when ordering 1 to 4 drinks only use your fingers to indicate the number desired. If you want 5 then use the thumb. Also of interest, making a circle with the thumb and index finger means �okay.� It is not a rude gesture.

What’s all the noise on the street?

A wide variety of sales people will travel around in your neigbourhood. All of them make standard noises as they go by. I have never seen a woman doing these jobs so don’t grill me for saying “Guy”.

Clapping Hands: The bread guy. He has sweet rolls. Almost always heard in the evening.

Flute: The scissors, knife, and machette sharpener.

Banging on cans: Propane cylinders for your hot water tank. Lately they have been playing a song over a loudspeaker (the novelty rapidly wears out).

Guy yelling “Agua”: Purified water in 18L (5 Gallon) jugs. Cost is 18 pesos but you need to buy the container if you don’t have an empty one for exchange (around 65 pesos).

Whistle (like an old steam train): Smoke flavored sweet potatoes and hot bananas.

Guy yelling “Tamales”: Hot tamales. Always at night.

Guy yelling “Elote”: Corn on the cob.

Bicycle bell: Ice cream and popsicles.

Guy yelling “Cocos Frios”: Cold Coconuts. Don’t get nervous when he chops them up with a giant knife.

Guy yelling “Plomero?”: Traveling plumber.

Whistling or beeping car horn: Somebody is trying to visit you. Since quite often there are no doorbells they resort to whistling, calling out your name, or beeping their car horn to get attention. This is necessary particularly when visiting someone on the 2nd or 3rd floor as there is usually a locked gate that prevents them from using the stairs.

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