Have you ever been curious about what life is like in another country? Let us take you and your kids on a tour of Mexico via some fun video clips.
Author Janelle Diller spends her winters in Mexico and has captured some daily activities on video for you. We’ve also added some questions for you to talk about to help your kids contrast and compare Mexico with their own daily lives. Most of the videos were taken in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, and San Blas, Nayarit. Keep in mind that this is all from the perspective of a non-native. These are the activities that Janelle found particularly interesting because of the ways they are different than her own experience living in Colorado in the US.
Life in Mexico
Outside of the tourist areas, Mexico is inexpensive for someone from the US. However, this doesn’t mean it’s an inexpensive place for a Mexican. The DAILY minimum wage in Mexico was recently raised from 88.36 pesos a day to 102.68 pesos. (A peso is worth about $0.05.) In US dollars, that means the daily minimum wage went from about $4.50 to $5.10.
Using the Map
- How would you travel to these towns?
- How big are they?
- How do you think people might earn a living in these towns?
- How might your life be the same or different than a child your age in Mexico?
Cities in Mexico have grocery stores similar to the United States. In fact, Walmart is the largest employer in the country. However, most smaller towns have only arborrotes, which are small stores that sell groceries. You go to the butcher shop to buy your meat; to another aborrotes to buy milk, cheese, and yogurt; another one to buy canned goods and household products; and yet another one to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables tend to be quite a bit cheaper in Mexico than the US. For instance, this basket of fruits, vegetables, and eggs cost less than $4.00 (USD). Of course, since this is typical of how you buy eggs, there’s always a chance you’ll come home with fewer intact eggs than you hoped you would!
- What do you see that is the same or different from how you buy fruits and vegetables?
- What fruits and vegetables do you see that are the same as the ones you can buy in your grocery store? Do you see any that you don’t recognize?
- What would you like about this?
- What would take some getting used to?
Having fun on market day
In addition to shopping in the aborrotes, Mexican towns often have a weekly market day. Vendors come from all over and have a regular route of being in one village every Monday, another village every Tuesday, and so on. Towns close off streets so that people don’t have to worry about traffic. Markets have everything from fruits and vegetables to jewelry to clothing to used household goods.
Watch this video and this video of market day at Barra de Navidad. If you’ve read Mystery of the Disappearing Dolphin, you’ll enjoy seeing what author Janelle Diller was thinking about when she wrote the book.
- What kinds of things do you see for sale in the market?
- Why do you think the market is covered with tents or tarps?
- What do you see that would be fun to buy?
If you’re hungry, you can always buy a taco or two at the market. Yum! These tacos cost about $1 (USD) and are amazing!
Here’s a FREE coloring page from Mystery of the Disappearing Dolphin of Izzy and Patti in the market. Have fun coloring!
Getting the laundry done
Just as in the US, some people have washers and dryers in their homes. Laundromats are rare, even in the cities. Instead, people take their laundry to a laundry service. It’s ready several hours, or a day or two, later. It’s washed, dried, and folded. You still have to put it away yourself, though.
- What do you learn about San Blas from this video?
- Who does the laundry at your house?
- When is the laundry done?
- What would it be like to take your laundry someplace and have it all done for you? What would you like about it? What would take some getting used to?
Going to school
Schools in Mexico often run in two sessions, a morning one and an afternoon one. The same teacher is responsible for both classes, which means teachers work super hard. Not all children can afford the textbooks, so teachers have to be creative in making sure that students have access to the content.
- What are the things that are the same as your classroom?
- What are things that are different?
- There are around 40 students in this class. How many students are there in your class?
- What does the teacher do to make sure all the students understand the lesson?
- What would it be like to be a student in this classroom?
Eating lunch at school
For the younger grades, mothers often come to school and walk their children home for a quick lunch, or they bring lunch for their children. Students are also able to buy food at school. This photo shows the lunch menu. When this photo was taken, a peso was worth about $.05 (USD).
- What does a sandwich cost for lunch in US dollars? (Multiply the prices times 5 to get the answer.)
- What does a burrito cost?
- How much does lunch at your school cost?
- What do you get for lunch at your school?
Enjoying the plaza
Mexican cities and towns almost always have a plaza. It’s where people gather in the evening to visit or to celebrate. During the day, the plaza can be a sleepy place to chat with friends. During the evening, and especially on weekends, it can be crazy busy, packed with people and live music. Usually, a plaza is surrounded by restaurants and little shops, maybe the city hall, and often a church, so it attracts a lot of traffic at all times of the day.
- What differences do you see between the day and the evening in the plaza?
- What do you see in the plaza that would make it a fun place to be?
- If your family went to the plaza in the evening, what would you do to have fun?
We hope you’ve had fun exploring Mexico! If you haven’t had a chance to read the Pack-n-Go Mexico adventures, you can listen to and watch author Janelle Diller read the first chapters of Mystery of the Thief in the Night and Mystery of the Disappearing Dolphin.
Share your day in the life!
Did you have fun comparing and contrasting your daily life with what you saw in these videos? We’d love for you to share your world with our readers. Take some videos of your school or how you shop or what your park looks like and we’ll add your videos to our Pack-n-Go world.
Send your videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.