Don’t know Spanish? Many locals speak English, Google translate gets better all the time and it’s rather easy to learn enough everyday Spanish to get by. Then you need to do some networking, communicating in other ways, asking questions, selling something, finding something out of the ordinary or where to go to get a document notarized. There are many ways to find your way in Cabo. This blog is your quick start guide to an easier life here.
Google translate has evolved considerably in the last several years. The conversation function is great for in person conversations with a taxi man or your gardener. The camera function is great for translating labels at the store. Lastly the long standing text translate is indispensable for communicating using WhatsApp.
There are other phone apps but Google Translate really is the one to use.
Conversation mode. Set the languages and press the both button and chat away!
Type away for quick translations. Star your favorites for quick recall.
Label on the shelf
After Google Translate focuses and translates live from Spanish to English
Nothing is more Mexico than WhatsApp. It became a fixture in Mexican life in a day when TelCel charged a small fortune for text messages – where the much cheaper wifi and cellular data based WhatsApp became El Rey. Doing business with anyone in Mexico almost always means using WhatsApp. Together with Google Translate you can communicate better in person than you ever thought your could.
I have a guy at CaliGas named Ignacio. No English whatsoever. I send him this on WhatsApp: “Hola Ignacio, Necesitamos propano. ¿puedes hoy y mañana? ¿qué hora? Garcias!” and my name and address. I usually get back “Hoy! Uno hora!” – Today, 1 hour!. Try that or go call CaliGas and try getting your address over on the phone in Spanish…..
WhatsApp for Business now allows you to have two WhatsApp numbers one for your MX phone number and one for your US/CDN number.
You need a “Guy” or a “Gal”
Get yourself a “guy” or a “gal” for the more complicated things – like getting a local drivers license or renewing your reg for local plated car at the DMV – there are people here who can help you with almost anything who are very reasonably priced. Ask us, we can help you find them or you can try a Facebook Group below.
Its tough enough being in a new place and finding your way around for things but adding Spanish to the mix makes it that much more difficult. Remember you are not alone here – there is an entire community of Ex-Pats out there and they are incredibly helpful. Outside of meeting them around town, you are best served by joining a number of local Facebook Groups. I never much liked Facebook but to connect with other Ex-Pats and ask questions in Cabo it is absolutely essential!!
Suggested Cabo Facebook groups to join:
Networking & Questions
Cabo Expats – Great for Questions | No business advertising
Cabo4Life – Great for Questions | Limited business advertising
Cabo Bullshit – Great for Questions | No business advertising
Cabo Golfers – Ask your golf questions!
Moving to Mexico – Great for questions about the immigration process, bringing your stuff and driving down.
Hurricane Info Los Cabos, BCS – essential for advanced warnings – better than most hurricane apps. A local website called eebmike.com also has the best local information on storm formation and satellite images.
Buy & Sell
While there’s a local Craig’s List site, more and more buying and selling is done in Facebook Marketplace. The automated translations of posts and messages back and forth make it easy to transact even with folks who speak no english. I sold a vehicle on Facebook Marketplace.
Other Buy/Sell and Advertising Sites
One great way to practice spanish is being able to order food and drinks and pay in Spanish. Nothing gets you over with local bar and restaurant staff than a real earnest attempt to speak their language.
Here’s the starting phrase list:
La Cuenta por favor
The bill, please
Necesito cerveza con limon, por favor
I need a beer with lime please
Para mi esposa, necesito vodka con agua mineral en un vaso corto seperado, por favor
For my wife, I need vodka with mineral water, separate in a short glass, please
Primero, necesito un ceviche para compartir
First, I need a ceviche to share
Segundo, necesito un club sándwich para mi esposa y una hamburguesa con queso para mí.
Second, I need a Club Sandwich for my wife and a cheese burger for me.
Otra ronda, por favor
Another round, please
Please Note: Pay in Pesos – always. Even if you are using a Tarjeta (Credit Card). The exchange rate the restaurant or bar gives you will never be as good as the credit card company. Try it, make note of the bar posted exchange rate (ie 18 to 1, 18 Pesos to 1 USD), run the bill through your card in Pesos and I guarantee you will get a better rate on your card. Establishments have to handle your US Cash and it’s not as easy as having Pesos go direct to their bank account. Tip in Cash (Pesos) – tips are distributed to staff fastest in cash and Pesos. It may not be convenient but try where you can, it makes a difference.
There are an abundance of teachers in Los Cabos to help you with Spanish lessons. Ask around in the Facebook Groups and check the Gringo Gazette classified section for who to contact.