Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines

SONY DSCLocation: Guanajuato, Mexico

Visited: December 26th, 2010

Site Type: Cultural

Inscribed: 1988

Background and Opinion:


Guanajuato’s history starts in the 1540s when huge deposits of silver were found in the region. Mines were quickly built and thousands came to collect the precious metal. Both the mines and the colonial era buildings still remain.

Going down to a silver mine
Going down to a silver mine

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Top 5 Misconceptions about Mexico

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

Spare Change - Misconceptions about Mexico
Credit: theatlantic.com

First off, what does that even mean? The term ‘third world’ was invented Read more

Historic Center of Zacatecas

The view of Zacatecas from the nearby silver mines.

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.

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Sian Ka’an is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. If you haven’t seen my post, read that article first. However, now that you are in the area, what else should you do? Furthermore, inside of Sian Ka’an, what is there to do? Fortunately, these questions have very satisfying answers.

1) Track Dolphins and Sea Turtles (inside Sian Ka’an)

As you enter the town of Punta Allen, you might see some signs for “eco-tours.” Some of the town people have grown an appreciation for observing the wildlife, without harming it. In this spirit, they offer a boat ride to see some dolphins and sea turtles. The longer tours can also include viewing eagles in their nests, and crocodiles. The boat also navigates through rivers fenced by mangrove trees. It is quite a surreal experience.

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Sian Ka’an

Mangroves 3Location: (Near) Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Visited: January 3-7 2011

Background and Opinion:

In a few words, Sian Ka’an is the Amazon of North America. No amount of praise can do justice to the beauty that is Sian Ka’an. This Biosphere Reserve is on the Yucatan Peninsula and is home to so many species of animals, including mammals like pumas, jaguars, dolphins, and manatees. In addition, development within this area is strictly regulated making for a pristine and truly natural environment. If nature isn’t enough, on the western side, there are some fairly untouched Mayan ruins, so go fulfill your need to act the part of Indiana Jones just this once.

Sian Ka’an is a fairly large reserve, so it was not possible to explore all of it. I took the east most route into the reserve, which is a very thin peninsula that goes from Tulum to Punta Allen, 50 km inside Sian Ka’an. The drive has thus far, been the single most memorable one in my life, surpassing the route between the Angkor Temples, along Pacific Coast Highway, or along the Okinawan coast in Japan.

Imagine this: You are driving along a single dirt road. You don’t see people or cars for the next two hours after entering the ‘Arco’ (Gateway). Then suddenly you hear noises in the dense forest next to you. When you stop to investigate, you see some large eyes and what looks like a monkey. He scurries away. As you try to find it again, you see it and about five of its family members cross the single dirt road. Or, imagine that you finally reach a small town deep inside a forest, and the first person you talk to asks “want to go see some dolphins?” Final scenario: You reach the ‘welcome center’ 10 km inside of Sian Ka’an, and are told there is an observation deck up some stairs. While you are up there, you look in all directions and see nothing but palm trees, a huge lagoon, and the Caribbean Sea as far as the eye can see, without a human in sight. If all three of these excite you, Sian Ka’an is for you.

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