The Propina

Jul 9, 2013 by Rosarie Salerno

shutterstock_80962402The Spanish word for a monetary tip is propina. The purpose of tipping is to encourage the continuation of good service. It is a customary practice in Mexico to tip, it is especially important in the service-oriented and hospitality tourist areas. The minimum wage in Mexico is extremely low and some workers don’t receive any pay at all, but rely heavily on tips for their income. Dollars as well as pesos are gratefully accepted in tourist areas. Try not to tip with quarters as they are hard to exchange or spend; dimes and pennies are pretty well worthless in the Mexican economy. The rules for tipping follow similar rules as in the US.

When dinning out, restaurant personnel will rarely rush you to leave, instead they allow you to stay so you may relax and enjoy your time after dinner. Generally, you will need to ask for the bill; “la quenta, por favor” or the universal hand gesture of writing in the air. The customary tip would be the 15% to 20%, but if you feel you had extraordinary service, then more is always welcome. Some restaurants include the propina in the bill, so you may want to make sure the server will receive it, otherwise you should leave them a tip separately in cash. Bartenders usually get a tip of 10% to 20% of the tab or $1.00 to $3.00 a round. There may be an attendant in the restroom that keeps it clean and will hand you a towel to dry your hands. Usually, there is a tip dish for a gratuity of 2 to 5 pesos.  Very often roving musicians will offer to entertain you with song, always ask their fee per song or by the hour. Outstanding performances may be rewarded with an extra tip.

Taxi drivers are not usually tipped, unless they help you with packages or luggage. You will be charged by the number of persons in your party. You should ask how much your trip will be for the total amount of people. Don’t be surprised if your driver stops to pick up other passengers along the way.

Grocery stores usually have a “bagger” who will put your items in bolsas. The bagger is not given wages and only works on the generosity of your tips. Parking lot attendants who help you with your groceries and keep an eye on your vehicle also work for tips only; 5 to 10 pesos is adequate, but any amount will be appreciated.

For maid service at hotels, you should leave 30 pesos on a daily basis as you probably will have a different maid each day. Your condo or house rental usually includes the cleaning service, but a tip is always welcome, especially for leaving really messy units or the larger homes and condos.  Basic tip should be at least 100 pesos or ten dollars.

The tip for valet parking should be one or two dollars. If you hire a fishing boat or a small panga, the crew should be tipped by the amount of service they provide. Baiting your hook, removing the fish from the hook and cleaning your fish etc., should be taken into consideration.

This is a simple example for tipping, but you should let “your conscious be your guide.” Most of all enjoy your stay.

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