by Anna Dewinter
Mexico has been getting bad press of late due to the narcotraficantes and the attendant violence in some areas. Don’t be put off. The main tourist areas are no more dangerous than in any other country. Pragmatism is essential wherever you travel and its application in Mexico will ensure that you have a trouble-free vacation. I have traveled extensively in Mexico over the last 10 years without experiencing any serious problems. This country has much to offer the tourist that is of real value. Here are my ten reasons why you should make that special trip:
Being a culture vulture, I love Diego Rivera’s painted murals. Very politically aware and somewhat controversial, his work describes the Mexican society of his day in excellent and vivid detail. There are examples in museums and galleries throughout the world, but nothing beats viewing it at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) in Mexico City.
After Paris, Mexico City has the greatest quantity of museums in the world. With cheap flights available it’s possible to spend an entire vacation visiting all 150 of them. I always enjoy the million antique toys on display at the Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico, plus a trip to the newer Museo de Tequila y Mezcal, where I have been known to purchase a souvenir or two.
The toast of Mexico
Mexico is the place to sample real tequila, made from the blue agave plant and produced around the town of the same name, or in the Los Altos region. While you’re at it, don’t miss Oaxaca’s smoky mezcal.
Mexican cuisine has an extra dimension in Oaxaca, with delicacies such as grasshoppers (chapulines) and mole poblano, named after Puebla – my personal favorite food city. Two other famous dishes here are: chiles en nogada – chili pepper in walnut sauce with pomegranates – and cemita, a large, meaty sandwich. Delicioso!
In archaeological sites all over Mexico there have been exceptional finds; the caves are particularly stunning, with paintings that date from 8000 B.C. If you don’t have time to do a complete tour of archaeological sites, you can explore Mexico’s rich history of successive civilizations at the National Anthropology Museum (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) in Mexico City.
Mexico’s impressive mountains and extinct volcanoes lure those who love to climb, and the country offers plenty of hiking, biking, and kayaking adventures. Personally, I’m happy just to glide sedately across the peaceful crater lake La Maria, about 130 kilometers south of the city of Guadalajara.
Great places to stay
From boutique hotels to rustic palapas, Mexico offers travelers a variety of charming and cheap places to stay. With its retro look – think of Elvis in the 1963 movie Fun in Acapulco – the Hotel Boca Chico is one of my favorites.
With glamorous resorts, laid back surf towns, and remote inlets, Mexico’s coasts appeal to every stripe of traveler. One of my favorite stops is Puerto Morelos, on the ‘Mayan Riviera’.
Skilled Mexican artisans use wood, clay, stone, glass, metals, and textiles to produce a wide range of decorative handmade merchandise. My friends and family love it when I return from Mexico with gifts of clothing and home accessories such as beautiful pitchers and glasses.
It’s fun watching the Mexican horse trainers at work in the Lagos de Moreno area, or taking part in traditional branding days and cheering on the superb riders in the Mexican rodeos. High spirits always result – even before the tequila!