Mexicans place paramount value on family and friends, social gatherings, and living in the present; worrying about the future takes a back seat. They are always ready to meet with friends for a drink or a cup of coffee or attend a family get-together. Social greetings and introductions are their own mini-rituals, and learning all of the intricacies could take a lifetime. The most important courtesy to remember is to acknowledge people individually; a general wave hello to the whole room doesn't cut it. You won't find more amiable people anywhere on Earth, and you can invite the full force of their natural gregariousness by being mindful of some social norms. Here's a start:

Slow Down -- The "mañana time" stereotype is mostly true. Life obeys slower rhythms, and "on time" is a flexible concept. Arriving 30 minutes to 2 hours late to a party in someone's home is acceptable -- in fact, coming at the specified hour would be rude, for your hosts almost certainly will not be ready. Here's the "mostly" part: Dinner invitations are less flexible; arrive within 30 minutes of the appointed hour. And do be on time for business appointments, public performances, weddings, and funerals.

Meet & Greet -- Don't short-circuit the hellos and goodbyes; social values trump time efficiency. A Mexican must at least say "¡Buenos días!" even to strangers. When meeting a group of people, each is greeted separately, no matter how long it takes. Handshakes, abrazos (embraces), and, among women, kisses abound. Stick to handshakes until your host decides you rate a more intimate greeting. But don't back away from an embrace -- that would amount to a rejection of friendship.

Have a Little Respect -- Mexicans are lavish with titles of respect, so dispense señor, señora, and señorita (Mr., Mrs., Miss) freely. Teachers, lawyers, architects, and other professionals have earned the right to a title: licenciado for lawyers (and some other professions requiring a college degree), maestro or maestra for elementary schoolteachers, profesor or profesora for secondary or college teachers. Mexicans have two surnames, father's first and mother's second. Both appear on business cards (the mother's name might be abbreviated to an initial), but when addressing people, use just the first (paternal) surname.

Don't Get Huffy -- Mexicans are genuinely interested in foreigners. If they stare, it's friendly curiosity. They like to practice their English and will ask about family, friends, money, and other intimate matters. If you are over 30 and have no children, they may express deep concern. Don't take it personally.

Show Some Culture -- Mexicans tend to divide the world into the well-raised and cultured (bien educado) and the poorly raised (mal educado). Don't be shy about trying out your rudimentary Spanish; even the most elementary attempt is appreciated because it shows your interest in the culture. It's no big deal to be categorized as a foreigner, so long as it's a cultured foreigner and not one of the barbarians.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.