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Mexico City is the country’s largest city, as well as its most important political, cultural, educational, and financial center. It is located at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 ft.), in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus located at the center of Mexico. The city consists of sixteen boroughs. Mexico City houses more museums than any other city and has the third most theaters, after London and New York. Mexico City has a rich history as the capital of the pre-Hispanic empire and the capital of the wealthiest viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire. Mexico City is the leading center in Latin America for the television, music, film, printed media, and book publishing industries.
Spanish is the official language of Mexico. It is the home to descendants from indigenous groups and European immigrants, bringing many of their languages such as, Nahuatl and Yukatek Maya, to the southern and central regions. Many Mexican towns and cities have patron saints, who are celebrated with annual feasts. Both Spanish and indigenous influences can be seen in Mexican art, architecture, and music. Mariachi performing groups (bands using singers, guitars, trumpets, and other instruments) regularly perform at festivals and restaurants. Many folk dances and traditional music are still present in Mexico today. Rock, pop, and other musical styles such as norteña and ranchera are popular. Soccer is the most popular sport in Mexico, though baseball is also popular. Lucha libre wrestling and bullfighting are also crowd favorites.
Mexico is home to the largest body of members of the Church outside the United States. The México City México Temple was the first LDS Church temple in Mexico; it was dedicated in 1983 and was rededicated after renovation in 2008. As of January 1, 2012, there were 1,273,199 members, 222 stakes, 36 districts, 1,543 wards, and 457 branches, 24 missions, and 12 temples in Mexico.
Mexico City offers a vast array of culinary experiences. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico’s 31 states are available in the city. Also available are restaurants representing a very broad spectrum of international cuisines. Mexico City is known to sell some of the freshest fish and seafood in the inland, which is, for the most part delivered to restaurants on the day of the catch.
Mexico City is navigated by the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metro, a 225.9 km (140 mi) metro system – the largest in Latin America. The metro transports approximately 4.5 million people every day. It is heavily subsidized, and has the lowest fares in the world, each trip costing 3.00 Mex$ and taking each passenger to almost any place in the mega city from 5:00 in the morning to midnight. The city government also operates a network of large buses with fares barely exceeding that of the metro. Other options for electric transport can be found in the Mexico City trolleybus routes and the Xochimilco Light Rail line. The local government has also increased incentives for making Mexico City a bicycle-friendly city.
The Secretariat of Public Security of the Federal District (SSP) manages a combined force of over 90,000 officers in the Federal District (DF). The SSP is charged with maintaining public order and safety in the center of Mexico City. The historic district of the city is also roamed by tourist police, which aims to serve and orient tourists. These enforcement agents dress in a more traditional outfit and ride on horses. Under policies enacted by Mayor Marcelo Ebrard between 2009 and 2011, Mexico City underwent a major security upgrade with violent and petty crime rates both falling significantly, despite the rise in violent crime in other parts of the country. Some of the policies enacted included the installation of 11,000 security cameras around the city and a very large expansion of the city police force. Mexico City currently has one of the highest police officer to resident ratios in the world, with one uniformed police officer per every 100 citizens.
Family is at the center of the social structure in Mexican culture. When greeting in social situations, women pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder, rather than shake hands. Men shake hands until they know someone well, at which time they progress to the more traditional hug and back slap. Wait until invited before using first names. If you are invited to a home, arrive 30 minutes late in most places (check with other missionaries to see if you should arrive later than that in your specific area). Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table. Do not sit down until you are invited to and told where to sit.
Av. Fuente de las Pirámides No.1, Piso
Lomas de Tecamachalco
53950 Naucalpan, Estado de Mexico
What items were hard to get or not available?
Not really anything. They have a lot of big stores, like Wal-Mart, so I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head that wasn’t available.
What did you eat the most of?
Tacos al pastor. It’s a type of pork and it’s really, really, REALLY good. You have to be careful if you’re not used to the food, but it’s really good and worth it. We got fed a lot of chicken enchiladas with green salsa by the members.
What is the craziest thing you ate?
I didn’t really eat anything all that crazy – I was fortunate.
What can you tell us about the culture?
The Mexican people are very hard workers and very humble. They live in cement houses with people above, below, and beside them and it’s so jam packed. They’re really big on the family unit and very family oriented. They love to party and to throw a party for any opportunity that they can. They love gatherings. They love soccer. They’re good people – very humble, very loving and very willing to stop and listen to you.
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
Make sure and be patient, especially with learning the language and with the people because it is a different culture. One of the biggest things for me was being able to express myself and bring my personality out in Spanish. It’s a whole lot easier to relate to the people of the city if you are yourself and outgoing. If you have time to eat out, go do it because it is so good, but be cautious. The stuff on the street is good- if someone says otherwise it’s a lie!
What do you wish you had known before you served?
I wish I would have known Preach My Gospel a little better. I felt like I was pretty well prepared, but I wish I would have known a little bit more about the Mexican people and the etiquette, like eating and some of those things, but you pick up on those really quick. I wish I would have known Spanish, but other than that you pretty much learn everything on the mission.
We are still collecting information on the Mexico Mexico City West Mission. If you served in this mission and are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us at email@example.com