What’s Mexico like?

What’s Mexico like?

“Mexico is a very rich country and yet, so poor. We have nature, we have history, we have culture, we have tourism, we have oil… We sell it to the US for 50 dollars a gallon and buy it back for 100. Corruption rules everything and it gets worse and worse. The problem is that Mexicans are divided. They look at the difference between one state and another instead of seeing that we are all part of the same Republic. That we are all Mexicans. This is what’s truly ruining the country”

A taxi driver

Zinacantan, Chiapas.

I can’t say I’ve seen Mexico, but I certainly experienced part of it, with its pros and cons, its beauty and charm, and I left with tears in my eyes and a strong desire to return and see more. Many people asked me why Mexico and the truth is that it wasn’t even part of my itinerary until I found a very cheap flight to Cancun and decided to start my Central America journey from the Yucatan peninsula. It was the best decision I could ever make. Through these 85 days in Mexico I met incredible people, saw a huge part of the Mayan history, discovered new music, food, smelled new scents and wore new colours. I lived with a family who offered me to stay with them even if they barely knew me, and it was one of the most beautiful families I’ve ever met. I left full of gratitude and memories.

Mexico is…

Noise! Music is literally everywhere. Pharmacies, shops and homes have huge speakers on their doorstep, blasting the latest tunes and inviting people to go in.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

Mexico is…

Colour! This is what I enjoyed the most of walking around every single village, town or city. The houses are painted in bright colours, people are wearing traditional colourful dresses, the markets are filled with bright fruit, vegetables and grains.

Women wearing traditional clothing in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

Mexico is…

Culture! The Republic is made out of 31 states and each of them differs in terms of traditions, culture, food, music, clothing. Local artesania (handicraft) can be found pretty much anywhere, although some of it is industrially produced and sold to tourists as “locally handmade”. The painter Frida Kahlo is one of the most well-known artists of the history of Mexico, but there is so much to it. You probably heard of el dia de los muertos, celebrated on the 1st of November and bringing together Mexicans celebrating the return of their beloved dead family members and friends amongst them with a huge banquet. This is just one of many celebrations. There are saints who are worshipped for a whole week. Every Sunday the local community gathers in the central square and dances together, bringing them closer and closer as a reminder of the wonderful place they are all part of.

La Casa de los Venados, Valladolid, Yucatan.

Mexico is…

History! Mayan populations can be found all over the country, but the South-East sees a great amount of them. Each community speaks a different Mayan language and retains its own traditions. When the Spanish conquerors arrived they deprived most of the country of its lands and turned the locals into slaves. Before then, though, several generations of Mayans had lived all over the country, as well as in other parts of Central America. The Mayan cities like Chitchen Itza are huge tourist attractions and the best way you can really appreciate the extent of this ancient civilisation. The Mayans were engineers, astronomers, mathematicians, farmers. What they built and left behind for us to study is still vastly unexplored or unexplained and that is where the charm lies.

Uxmal, Yucatan.

Mexico is…

Welcoming! Many people have told me about how dangerous of a country Mexico is. None of them has ever been to Mexico. We all have ideas and preconceptions about places and people we are yet to see. Stereotypes which we don’t accept when they relate to our home-country, but we take the right to spread when it comes to somewhere else. The truth is, the best way to get to know a country is to go and decide for yourself. I’m not denying that certain areas of Mexico are indeed, dangerous. The locals themselves will tell you to be careful in any market place, not to go out alone at night, to avoid that neighbourhood or city, especially if you’re travelling on your own. In some parts of the country it is not uncommon to see armed men going around the city with their  face covered. Yes, narcos. And if you think you can trust the police when it comes to drug trafficking, think twice. Despite all of this, I have never felt unsafe during my time there. Every single person I met was incredibly nice to me, giving me directions, actually walking with me or waiting for my bus to make sure I wouldn’t miss it, offering me to stay at their house or to take me on a tour around the city. Don’t take this as a “you can trust anyone”. Trust your guts first of all, and remember than not everyone does something just to be nice. But some people do, and those are the people worth remembering and that you should let some space for in your travel journal.

My family in Mexico. Mayapan, Yucatan.

Mexico is…

Nature! From the clear waters of the Caribbean, to jungles, Pacific coast beaches, palm trees, waterfalls and canyons. Mexico’s natural beauty varies so much from place to place that you can definitely see all kind of landscapes here. For what I’ve seen, Chiapas is not a disappointment and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to see the true Mexico. Get out of the “touristic village bubble” and you’ll find something truly unforgettable!

Cascadas del Chiflon, Chiapas.

I loved it, I really did. Besides being a paradise for backpackers, due to its very low living costs, Mexico is filled with everything you could possibly desire as a first stop during your journey through Central America. This is just a taste of it, something for you to feel intrigued by this country. I will be working on a few articles to talk about different places and experiences and give a full overview of what it has to offer and how you can travel spending very little there.

Hasta pronto 🙂

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