Curiosities #3 – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

Once again it’s time to share with you some unusual happenings we’ve noticed on our wanderings, this time in Mexico and Central America.


☆We didn’t see a single person wearing a sombrero; instead the men wear cowboy hats!


☆The country seems to love speedbumps: they’re everywhere!

☆Hardly anyone speaks any English, even street sellers, so walking around is pretty much hassle free.

☆It’s common to see large birds of prey circling overhead.

☆The Day of the Dead is a very important celebration (October 31st – November 2nd) when many people spend the night at the graveyard. Consequently a large number of souvenirs are based on the theme of skulls and skeletons!

☆There are old VW beetles everywhere.


☆On first glance, Mexico appears a very Catholic country, but search deeper and you find in many places that what is practiced beyond church doors is a strange mixture of Catholicism and indigenous beliefs involving spiritual healers.

☆It’s expected that when you get on a bus or enter a restaurant, you issue a general greeting to everyone who’s already there.

☆Grocery stalls sell cactus for eating, spikes removed of course.


☆If you want to buy certain cosmetics (particularly shampoo or deodorant) you often find it in a locked cabinet. You must ask for it to be opened then whatever you choose is promptly confiscated from you and not returned until the check out!

Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

☆In Guatemala, if you have a kids’ party at McDonalds, you get a free piñata.

☆In the first few countries, well-armed police and army personnel have a big presence and can often be found in little shelters in the middle of nowhere but this decreased considerably from Nicaragua on.


☆In Panama, bicycles have number plates and buses have two.

☆Chinese immigrants seem to have the monopoly on local convenience stores in many places.

☆Sometimes people board a bus then deliver a sermon to the rest of the passengers.

☆It’s quite normal to see men on horses wearing cowboy hats in the streets.

☆Lots of Nicaraguans have silver or gold front teeth.

☆Instead of giving someone a lift on the back of a bicycle, the passenger sits in front, sideways on the cross bar.

☆Guatemala and Panama are the only countries where traditional clothes are still evident.


☆In many areas, particularly rural places and smaller towns and cities, the buildings have just one storey.

☆Desayuno tipico (typical breakfast) is usually a variation on the theme of tortilla, scrambled or fried egg, red beans, very strong cheese, sour cream and some kind of ham or sausage.

☆Shopping from the comfort of your bus seat is commonplace, particularly in Honduras and Nicaragua, whether it be spanners, mango slices, medicines, burgers, ready-microwaved popcorn, torches, onions, massive plastic bowls, plated meals of chicken, rice and beans, remote controls, tomatoes, scissors…

☆Some Guatemalan map makers still don’t recognise Belize as a country.

☆It’s really rare to see locals smoking.

☆The average size of people is substantially larger than Asia or Europe but, regardless of size, the women all wear very tight tops and skinny jeans.

☆A small section of the paper from a straw is left on when you receive your drink.

☆It’s common to see men walking down the street with machetes.

☆Old American yellow school buses are a frequent kind of public transport and are known as chicken buses (although we only saw chickens once). They carry all sorts on their roofs from furniture to food to huge building materials.


☆Water is often sold in plastic bags which you bite open then suck on.

☆Men wear cowboy hats, jeans and tucked in chequered shirts until Nicaragua where they change to baseball caps, jeans and t-shirts.

☆Honduras is home to an inordinate number of fried chicken shops. Their logos are always chickens giving a feathery thumbs up or wearing a chef’s hat or both!

☆The words for different types of shop often end in ‘eria’ – like floresteria, barberia, carneria – but my favourites are joyeria (for decorations and balloons etc) and ferreteria (disappointingly not for ferrets but home/hardware)!

☆If you catch someone’s eye whilst they’re eating you must say, ‘buen provecho’.

☆Panama hats are from Ecuador not Panama.

☆ On a number of occasions we’ve seen people going for a stroll carrying a parrot or a rabbit!


If you missed them, here are links to Curiosities #1 – Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam or Curiosities #2 – Myanmar, Malaysia, The Philippines and Japan.

One thought on “Curiosities #3 – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

  1. Love this 🙂 all completely true about Central America having been there myself. Some lovely memories brought up through reading, thank you. I do miss my desayuno tipico! And the sermons on the bus! Xx

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