Why Mexico is my Favourite Country
When people ask me what my favourite country is they always seem puzzled when I answer Mexico. Then come the questions. Isn’t it so touristy and spoiled? Isn’t Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world? Don’t people get kidnapped, beheaded or killed in Mexico?
Every time I hear this it makes me cringe a little. People know so little about Mexico and judge it because of what they hear in the media. I am not saying that those things never happen. Sadly they do in some areas; but not everywhere. Much of Mexico is quite safe and in fact safer than some major cities in the US or Europe. While drug cartels do cause a lot of problems in some areas, they also tend to bother each other. If you are not involved with the cartels or drug dealing the chances of you getting killed are extremely low!
On my return from another wonderful trip to Mexico, someone asked me, “weren’t you scared that you might be dragged into an alleyway and have your liver stolen?”. It made me laugh! I quickly replied, “I am not worried about anyone stealing my liver, especially not after this holiday and all the margaritas I drunk!”. People will believe just about anything.
Is Mexico overly touristy? Well yes, some parts of Mexico are very touristy and spoiled; Cancun for example. You will find all-inclusive resorts where people simply hit the beach and clubs for their entire trip and don’t make the most of being in Mexico. But that’s not at all what Mexico is about. There is so much more to do in Mexico than lazing around on its pristine white sandy beaches. Have I ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico? No, and I am pretty sure I never will!
I think I have always been in love with Mexico, I certainly was in love with it before I even set foot there. Was I Mexican in a previous life? Maybe! Mexican culture has always interested me and Mexican food has always been my favourite. But of course, each visit to Mexico has made me fall more in love with this country. So why do I love it so much?
The Mexican and Mayan cultures are just fascinating. Learning about their complex history and visiting ancient Mayan ruins has always been one of my favourites things to do while in Mexico. Learning the history behind those ruins is really interesting. There are so many ruins to check out, some much more impressive than others but all certainly worth a visit. Our all time favourite was Teotihuacan near Mexico City. Teotihuacan is a huge archaeologic complex with some amazing pyramids. Two of those, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun provide you with breathtaking views over the entire complex from their summits. If you visit just one temple in Mexico it should be this one.
Mexican culture places a strong emphasis on religion. Even if like us you are not religious, you can still enjoy visiting the many beautiful and colourful churches around the country. If you happen to be around for Easter then you are in for a treat with all the celebrations that take place during the “Semana Santa”. They put so much work into it and the processions are spectacular.
As I said Mexican food is my favourite and I love everything about it (except for the ants and worms; not that I have tried them!) tacos, chilaquiles, street corns, huevos rancheros, tamales, guacamole. I am salivating just thinking about them all! The flavours are so amazing and I love how they can make some of the most simple food taste so wonderful.
In Mexico, you can get a delicious meal anywhere, from street vendors to small family-run restaurants, through to expensive restaurants serving authentic, traditional cuisine. Of course, each region has it’s own specialities as well. If like us you come from a westernised country, then the Mexican food that you’re familiar with is probably nothing like the real Mexican food. Visit Mexico for a few days and you’ll quickly figure that out!
Mexico has some of the nicest beaches in the world, particularly in the Yucatan region. With turquoise blue water and fine white sand, there is nothing better than spending the day lazing on one of the beautiful Mexican beaches with a Margarita in your hand! But of course, don’t make your holiday in Mexico just about the beaches. As nice as they are you’d be missing out on all the other incredible things to do in this awesome country.
Yes, I love Margaritas. In fact, it’s my favourite cocktail! And Mexico does them the best! With different flavours and different choices of Tequila, you can try out so many variations. Trying too many might send you off to a hospital on a drip but they are totally worth it! Why not try my favourite, the Chilli Margarita?!
Mexico is so bright and colourful! The houses, the food, the traditional clothes that the indigenous people wear, the colonial buildings; everything is a rainbow of colours! Visit a market and you will be blinded by all the vivid fabrics, beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables, and the beautiful handcrafts. Stunning!
Mexico has lots of interesting wildlife and sea-life. Meeting an Iguana while exploring the many temples is a common experience in Mexico. These big lizards love to laze around the dry temple grounds. Another favourite activity of ours was swimming with sea turtles just of the shore in Akumal. In Akumal bay, the sea turtles are so used to tourists that they happily go about their business eating sea grass off the ocean floor even while surrounded by onlookers. Every year Whale sharks can also be seen close to the shore of the Yucatan and you can even go swimming with the biggest fish in the ocean!
Its buzzing capital, Mexico City
Mexico City is an awesome city to visit. We had five nights there and didn’t even scratch the surface of all it has to offer. And unlike what people say, we never felt remotely unsafe anywhere in Mexico City (although they did have a large earthquake the day after we left!). With its many museums (the Anthropology Museum is a stand out), beautiful buildings to explore, its many markets, hip areas like Angel and Coyoacan, and its beautiful parks, it is a marvel of a city and one of our favourites in the world. The only downside was the pollution. It didn’t bother me too much but Simon suffers from asthma and he struggled a bit after five days there. It also has some of the nicest restaurants in the world. If you can afford it, try dining at Pujol for an experience to remember forever!
If you like art don’t miss out on the fantastic murals of Diego Riviera at the Palacio National de Mexico. They are so impressive and even if art is not your thing you will find yourself admiring those incredible murals.
Another great place to check out in the suburb of Coyoacan is Casa Azul, the historic house turned museum and dedicated to the life and work of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
As beautiful as Mexico is, its people are equally amazing. They are so friendly, warm, and welcoming and are always happy to help. They love to start a conversation with you to find out what you are doing and to give you tips about the country or a local eatery. No, they aren’t all drug lords and the vast majority of them are actually extremely hard workers and have an honest job for a living.
San Cristobal de las Casas
San Cristobal is our favourite town in Mexico. This beautiful colonial town is in the Chiapas state in Southern Mexico and is perched 7,200 feet above sea level. It is a colourful and traditional town with cobblestone pedestrian streets, red-tile roofs and many markets to wander around. The majority of the inhabitants are indigenous people which make it even more charming. San Cristobal is crawling with restaurants and bars and it’s a great place to spend a few days just to relax and take in the atmosphere. Because of the altitude, San Cristobal gets a lot colder and the nights can be quite chilly. Be prepared for that if you are going to spend a few days there.
The Day of the Dead
Mexico has many festivals during the year. One that we haven’t tried yet but have added to our bucket list is the Day of the Dead. The Day of the Dead is one of the biggest celebrations in Mexico. It’s all about remembering and celebrating loved ones who have passed on. People head to the cemeteries to eat and drink at the final resting place of their loved ones. The celebrations often end with huge street parties and parades, where people wear vibrant colours. Many dress up in costumes (often skeletons), and paint their faces in skulls. Oaxaca is famous for its Day of the Dead party. It is celebrated on November 2nd so we’ll make sure to visit in November next time!
The old VW Beetles
No, it’s not just in Cuba that you can see lots of really old cars. In Mexico, you’ll see plenty of old VW Beetles around, especially throughout central Mexico. Some towns such as Taxco use them for taxis, as does Mexico City (although they have started to replace them). They can be so colourful and photogenic!
Swimming in a cenote
One thing you shouldn’t miss while in Mexico is swimming or snorkelling in one of the many cenotes. Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with clear and fresh water. They are unique to the Yucatan Peninsula and you will find thousands scattered around it. If you like diving you can even dive in many of the cenotes to get an even better look. They are so refreshing and a swim in one is the perfect thing to do after a hot day spent exploring the temples.
If all of the above reasons are not a good enough reason to put this country on your bucket list then I’m not sure quite what is. You can either keep believing that it’s too dangerous to visit; or you can do your own research, identify the areas to avoid and make plans to visit and enjoy this wonderful country. Plus remember, in the climate we live in these days, is any country really that safe anyway?
If you’ve been to Mexico before please comment below and let us know about your experiences, good or bad.