Posts Tagged With: mexico

Why Mexico Rocks!


We all know that Mexico doesn’t exactly have the best P.R. reputation at the present. Homicides, kidnappings, drug cartels, etc. And then, of course, we have the situation with Trump. It seems like Mexico is the last place anyone wants to visit. Over the Christmas holidays, I traveled through this amazing country, and I’m here to share with you why Mexico rocks and why you should consider a trip there.
Most of my countrymen – and other foreign nationals – prefer to stay at resorts on the coast, such as the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas. Prior to my trip, I had only gone to Tijuana on a day trip from San Diego. I didn’t have the best impression from, and many Mexicans that I had met over the years told me Tijuana is not exactly authentic Mexico. So over two weeks, I traveled through southern Mexico, starting in Mexico City and finishing in Playa del Carmen. I hit hotspots such as Puebla, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Campeche. It was fantastic! Even Mexico City etched a special place in my travel memories! I also felt as if I had experienced things that resort-goers rarely experience. Furthermore, I didn’t feel unsafe during my entire trip.

So, what makes Mexico so special?

1. A foodie’s paradise – tacos, tlayudas, mole, enchiladas, the freshest peppers and spices, the list goes on! Note: Mexican food here is not like those typical Tex-Mex restaurants; it’s a whole new ball game, and the food is much spicier. Still, you will not be disappointed with Mexican gastronomy. And if you are looking to up your cooking skills, this is the place to learn. When I was in Oaxaca, I came across a renowned chef, named Gerardo, and his cooking school La Cocina Oaxqueña. Not only did I learn some new skills, Gerardo was an amazing teacher and hospitable. He first takes you to a local market to buy the ingredients, and then brings you to his house to do all the cooking. Totally worth a day out of your time in Oaxaca!


Typical tlayuda.

2. Civilizations past – you know them! The Aztecs, Olmecs, Mayans, etc. A visit to Mexico is a chance to step back and time and trace these Pre-Hispanic civilizations. When you’re in Mexico City, you will be in the old Tenochtitlan. This was what Mexico City was called prior to the Spaniards’ arrival. It was also the center of the Aztec Empire! It’s mind-blowing to know that you are in the land of some of the most interesting ancient civilizations!

3. Natural wonders – this is a piggyback to point number two. Chichen Itzá, Teotihuacan, Monte Albán, Palenque, etc. Some of these are considered to be the great wonders of the world. Another natural wonder is a cenote. Cenotes, which are scattered in the Yucatan Peninsula, are natural sinkholes in caves. They offer a natural dip in an underground lagoon, where the visitor is soon congregated by minnows and other small fish. I visited one near Merida, and it was definitely a trip highlight!



4. It won’t break your bank – Mexico is cheap compared to other places out there. You can easily have a plateful of tacos and a beer in a taqueria for six U.S. dollars. And Mexico is a great place to practice your bargaining skills when you visit the local markets. They are also optimal for authentic souvenirs. In short, a trip to Mexico will definitely be easy on your wallet!

5. Friendly locals – despite what you may have heard, Mexicans are really friendly, and they really want tourists to visit their country. They are fully aware of the negative narrative going around. I struck up interesting conversations with a few locals (it helped that I’m fluent in Spanish), and I found them to be helpful.

A few helpful tips to Mexican travel:
1. Brush up on your Spanish – this will make your trip more enjoyable, and it is a must if you visit Mexico City, or CDMX as it is colloquially referred to.
2. Include Mexico City – it’s not as bad as P.R. makes it look out to be. With great restaurants, and a chance to discover Aztec history, this city should not be excluded. It was my favorite place, and IMHO, no visit to the country would be complete without CDMX.


Mexico City

3. Download Uber – taxi drivers have a negative reputation in CDMX, and Uber is a safer, more reliable way of getting around this colossal city. I used it to get to the city from the airport. Just know some basic Spanish, as most Uber drivers don’t speak English.
4. Invest in a money pouch/belt – do not carry your wallet in your back pocket for obvious reasons. It’s better to have your money and passport inconspicuously stored.
5. Buy a SIM card – don’t expect reliable WIFI here. A SIM card means you will always have reliable WIFI. They are inexpensive and the data included will last you your entire trip (just don’t stream videos).
6. Travel in an organized tour – not comfortable traveling alone? No problem. I advocate investing in an organized tour, such as G Adventures. This way, you will be traveling in numbers with someone who knows the country inside and out.

So, I hope you are now more convinced about Mexico. If you’re still not, that’s okay too. Happy traveling!

Categories: My Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo the Right Way

Cinco de Mayo. Mexican skull in sombrero holding rose teeth. Greeting card template. Isolated on white vector illustration

Well I’ll admit that I still haven’t figured out why everyone celebrates Cinco de Mayo. However, being very interested in the Hispanic culture and language, I’ve noticed that many people celebrate it similar to that of St. Paddy’s day. Only people don sombreros and the occasional serape whilst drowning in Coronas and margaritas. If “Kiss Me, I’m Mexican” shirts were annually sold for the occasion, I’m sure they’d sell out in no time.

But Cinco de Mayo holds a special place in the Mexican community. Whether we love or loathe their presence in the United States, we should be extra sensitive to their traditions. With the frayed relations between the U.S. and Mexico (Trump wanting to build a wall along the Mexican border), we should show solidarity to our Mexican neighbors.

So here are a few alternative ways to celebrate El Cinco. These tidbits are courtesy of a poster I saw in the student center of my college last year:

Educate yourself – learn about the history of Cinco de Mayo and how it became a part of U.S. pop culture. Acknowledge the stereotypes you have internalized and discover why they are problematic.

Support AUTHENTIC Mexican businesses – forget Taco Bell, Don Pablos, Chipotle and other “Tex-Mex” chains. Try a family-owned restaurant run by actual Mexicans. These aren’t hard to find, especially in the larger cities. The food will be more authentic, lines and standing-room-only will be nonexistent.

Celebrate responsibly – no serapes, no fake mustache, and avoid those party stores. No “Cinco de Drinko” nor disrespectful use of Spanish. And hold your friends accountable when they do any of these.

Donate to organizations working for immigrant rights – support these organizations because they work to ensure that immigrants receive their rights to live and work in the United States. Find an organization in your community that does this, and even volunteer for them if you can.

Mexican immigrants are not here to steal American jobs. They come here because living conditions back home are so deplorable, they simply must leave in order to seek a better life. It pains many of them to leave behind their families and homeland which they have grown to love. They are willing to do the jobs most Americans wouldn’t: washing dishes, cook, clean hotel rooms, landscaping, the list goes on.

So celebrate this holiday by showing respect to your fellow “brothers and sisters” and you’ll be glad you did.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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