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Topics include Dining Scene, Mexico: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Pretty much everyone in the Tourist Zone of Ensenada speaks English and absolutely love to help others learn Spanish. Even the most mutilated and mispronounced words or phrases will be greeted with enthusiasm, patience, and appreciation.
If you are interested in a more in depth immersion program here in Ensenada, you may want to check out Baja California Language College or The Center of Languages.
For some basic travel words and phrases that may come in handy and add to your travel experience, check out the free online tutorial.
Since Ensenada (and Mexico in general) is very relaxed, you will find no rush to get you to leave the table. The custom is to let diners linger as long as they want so your bill will not be presented until you ask for it.
When you are ready to leave, you can ask for the bill..."La cuenta, por favor", or if you catch the waiter's eye across the room, you can make a gesture with your hand that suggests writing in the air with an imaginary pen. This is common and understood all over the country.
Minimum wage in Baja is about $4 USD per day. So, many professions count on tipping (propina).
In restaurants you will find 15% still a valued tip and is anticipated especially in the more upscale/touristy joints.
The gas station attendants should handle all the pump work, clean you windshield, promptly handle you change and factura information if required. If they do something extra like check your oil or tires, then 5-10 pesos (~50 cents - $1) seems appreciated.
Hotel Housekeeping is expected, but often overlooked in the states. Here the propina makes up a much more significant portion of their wage. $1 per person per night is considered typical.
Parking lot security: Many of the larger supermarkets have lot attendants to prevent theft and accidents. This is particularly helpful if you shop the same place often and toss them a couple pesos (or 5 pesos if they return your cart). This may seem to be a parking lot scam, however most of these guys you see out there are retirees who don't qualify for the minimums.
Grocery Store bag boys/girls... It's a common after school job for kids and now seniors and it doesn't pay well. A peso or two per bag is appropriate out of the change back from your tab.
Wait persons, doormen, bartenders all anticipate and should work for your tip. Don't reward bad service either. Leaving a few pesos rather than none after a meal is still the international sign of distain for bad service.