I was a Spanish major in college, but would honestly have no idea how to express myself in a lot of real-life situations to be encountered in the backcountry. So this guide helped me brush up on some of my "practical" Spanish for an upcoming trip to the Sierra Madre, Sonora and Chihuahua. You would probably be better off knowing some basic Spanish before messing with this guide, but it's not 100% essential. The authors use dialogues with topical themes, like "Can I cross your land?" or "Hey, my truck broke down". The dialogues and vocabulary lists highlight colloquial Mexican usage and point out some backcountry "linguistic etiquette" (like addressing people as "amigo" instead of "señor", which is perfectly acceptable in the backcountry). The vocabulary lists here are also great, with a bunch of practical terms arranged thematically.
This isn't just a phrasebook, though. It's also a guide to the practicalities of getting around and enjoying the backcountry and how to behave in situations that most city-hopping tourists just don't encounter. A lot of rural Mexicans (in places like inland Chihuahua, for example) rarely meet tourists and are often offended by arrogant or just plain ignorant gringos who don't necessarily mean offense. This guide addresses some issues like how to ask for permission to cross somebody's land or what to do if you need to ask directions from a woman if the man of the house isn't around. It's also just generally a useful "how to" guide to hiking and camping in rural Mexico.
Great book. Worth taking with you.