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Los malos aires

When traveling in Mexico, you should be aware of “los malos aires.” Literally translated as “the bad winds,” this phrase can refer to a cool breeze or even negative vibes.

This is the reason mothers bundle their children up beneath three layers of flannel blankets, two layers of pants, a couple shirts, socks and good tennis shoes. I remember when I went to the US Embassy in Mexico City. Mexican mothers carried their babies beneath layers of clothing and cloth while American mothers held their babies in nothing but shorts and t-shirts. They obviously hadn’t heard of “los malos aires.”

This is also the reason one should never run around barefoot. Here in Xalapa, you should always wear shoes, even if it’s hot. Since I grew up barefoot, this has been a point of conflict between my “suegra” and me.

When my son was a newborn baby, people frequently came by to see him. They wouldn’t hold him as soon as they stepped through the door, though. They would wait for “los malos aires” to wear off before exposing the baby to them. In this case, “malos aires” refers to street vibes. Xalapa can be quite chaotic. All the traffic, smog and grumpy people can be considered “mal aire” and can affect the littlest people more than adults.

Don’t be surprised if someone stops you in the street to tell you to bundle up. They are only trying to save you from “los malos aires.”