The great thing about the Riviera Maya is just how international the area is and how many countries there are tourist from. English is by far the most spoken language besides Spanish. Many locals that work in tourism speak Spanish and English and sometimes Mayan. So speaking to someone at restaurants and stores is going to be fairly easy. Also most restaurants have menus in English and Spanish. A simple “hello” will let them know that you speak English.
It is however polite to ask first, ven in English “Do you speak English?’ rather than assume that people will speak English and you just start asking for things in English. Smiles and being polite always go a long way and is a good way just to send a message of “friendliness” to other people.
If you are going to be taking taxis around or other transportation, having directions helps. Carry a note with the address of where you are going so you can give it to the driver. That way don’t have stumble your way through saying the location you want to go to.
A great way to break the ice with people is learning simple greetings, please, thank you, and asking how much something is along with numbers. Don’t worry, if you think they will start rattling off in Spanish if you say “Hola”, they usually won’t. Your accent will give it away that you don’t speak Spanish. Many people don’t expect tourist looking people to speak fluent Spanish so they are happy to help you out.
Some key Spanish phrases to make your vacation run smoothly:
Please : Por favor
Thank you : Gracias
My name is ____. Nice to meet you : Me llamo ___. Mucho gusto.
How are you?: ¿Cómo estás?
How much does this cost? : ¿Cuánto cuesta?
Where’s the restroom? : ¿Dónde está el baño?
Can you help me? : ¿Puede ayudarme?
How do I get to __ ? : ¿Cómo puedo llegar a __ ?
Left : A la izquierda. Right : A la derecha. Straight ahead: Derecho
The bill, please : La cuenta, por favor
I think you’re my soulmate : Creo que eres mi alma gemela.
Hey, it could happen!
One of the most polite ways to get out of trouble is to learn how to say ” I am sorry I do not speak Spanish” (Lo siento no hablo español) or “I am sorry I do not understand” (Lo siento no entiendo).
Meeting new people from different walks of life is one of the most exciting parts about traveling, and locals will always appreciate you making the effort to speak their language. So on your visit, try to use some of this words 🙂