Travel tips from a local? That seems to be a trend these days, and one I don’t fully buy as locals aren’t travel wizards that magically know where all the best spots are. But it is hidden gems like Guanajuato that have made this trend so huge, as it is a fantastic place mostly traveled by local Mexicans. Read more
Living in Korea for the last few years has given me a new and rather unexpected perspective I would not otherwise have. That is to say, if I hadn’t lived here, I probably wouldn’t have written the article you are reading right now. I know, it sounds weird, so let me explain. South Korea is a hotbed that attracts English speaking foreigners from all over the (native-English-speaking) world. Alright fine, Americans and Canadians. In California, we live in a bubble (I don’t mean that offensively) where our perceptions of Mexico influenced by our friends, and in my case, family which happen to be Mexican. Pretty much everyone in California is either Mexican, or knows quite a few Mexicans, giving you (us?) kind of an ‘inside-scoop’ into the culture.
With that said, what does the rest of the country, and by extension, the rest of the world think of Mexico? The people I have met in Korea (foreigners in this case, but also Koreans) have given me an idea of the misconceptions. Given what often makes the headlines, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it isn’t pretty. In addition, I was surprised that very few people have actually been to Mexico, with the exception of border towns, given how close our two countries (okay three, you’re included this one time Canada) are to each other. Maybe the title is a bit deceiving as some of the items on this list are, to some extent, true. Nonetheless, this list hopes to calm your fears about traveling to Mexico, and/or to give you an insight to encourage you to visit what is easily (bias alert) one of the best countries in the world.
Here are people’s misconceptions about Mexico…
5) Mexico is a Third World Country
First off, what does that even mean? The term ‘third world’ was invented Read more
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
January 2, 2011
Opinion and Background: (Bias alert: I’m Mexican)
Mexico City is possibly one of the most amazing cities in the world with history bursting at the seams. It is the capital city of a country with 31 UNESCO world heritage sites and shows it. The exact center, El Zocalo (the name of the town square), warrants at least a day or two. It is surrounded by the judicial building, parliament, the executive building, and a cathedral and is symbolic to the governing principles of the Mexican people. These buildings alone take hours to tour, so plan to stay a while.
Location: Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico
Visited: August, 2009
Opinion and Background:
Towards foreigners, Mexicans seem united in their love for their country. However, amongst themselves, distinct (but friendly) battle lines are drawn showing off specific city pride, with everyone claiming that their city is the most beautiful and unique in Mexico. While its easy to brush this off as typical over aggrandizement of one’s hometown, it is actually quite remarkable how different Mexican cities can look compared to each other, and for once, the hype is justified.
The Yucatan Peninsula is not only awesome, but far enough from the violence that often makes the headlines in Mexico. Here, few people are fearful of drug lords and turf wars, so feel free to explore around a bit. The Sian Ka’an (what is Sian Ka’an? click here) area is just filled with things to do which could take a month to really explore it all. Since we don’t have that long, here are three more things to do (in addition to the other three mentioned in this previous post):
1) Visit the Ruins of Muyil (Chunyaxche) (inside Sian Ka’an)
This is a bit of a cheat because I didn’t personally go here. However, it would be foolish to simply ignore this and not mention that it exists just because I didn’t plan my visit with enough time. These ruins are a few kilometers into Sian Ka’an from the west side (from the modern city of Tulum). They are not as big as the famous Chichen Itza ruins, but were also once a Mayan city. They take about an hour to explore by most accounts, and is just fifteen minutes away from the main road (there will be signs).