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Travel Logs August 2013

Jottings

Viva Mexico!

By Millie Moss

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll be robbed or killed?” No. Absolutely not. I am now 77 years old, and the older I get, the more times my sanity is brought into question as regards Mexico. I have never had cause for concern in Mexico. 

The last time I returned from Mexico, I ran into a friend at the market. “I thought you were going to Mexico,” she said.

“I did.” I said, “Now I’m back.”

“So where is your tan?”

“I didn’t go to the beach, so I didn’t get a tan,” I answered.

“Then why did you go?” She looked at me as though I might have a screw loose.

It’s a typical remark from those who have not heard me wax on about Wonderful Mexico. On the other hand, most Mexicans believe “Americanos” lead glamorous lives in Los Angeles, or in Nuevo York if they are super rich. Such are common misconceptions of residents on both sides of the border.

I first went to Mexico in 1984. I fell in love with the country, its people, and its customs. First stop was in Queretaro, one of the colonial cities, which are now my co-favorites along with the exotic Riviera Maya. I have now been all over Mexico, and there is nowhere I wouldn’t like to see again.

Perhaps here’s a good place for a word about safety. I always go alone, which astounds my family and friends. “Aren’t you afraid you’ll be robbed or killed?” No. Absolutely not. I am now 77 years old, and the older I get, the more times my sanity is brought into question as regards Mexico. I have never had cause for concern in Mexico.

That’s not to say I don’t take precautions. I always research any place I don’t know.

I start with the State Department travel advisories: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5815.html. If I read, “defer non-essential travel to the State of ___________,” I won’t go near it.

I then search the Internet, and consult the latest edition of www.lonelyplanet.com/mexico. If I get the “all clear,” I go with a high heart after first observing the familiar safety measures that are applicable worldwide. Here are some that might be Mexico-specific:

  • Pack only casual, everyday apparel. No fancy clothes or bling.
  • Take an ATM and/or a credit card. Travelers’ checks are difficult and expensive to exchange for pesos.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Look as though you are sure of yourself and of where you’re going. Nothing attracts a no-goodnik like an apparently lost visitor “of a certain age.”
  • Do not expect anyone to speak English. I’ve often spent three days straight never hearing a word of English. Don’t be offended when someone calls you a gringo. It’s not an insult, believe me.
  • Don’t drive after dark.

That said, here are some of my favorite Mexico destinations:

Guanajuato, Delores Hidalgo, and Queretero, where independence from Spain was fought and won. All three are World Heritage Sites. The baroque architecture is breath-taking. I love to wander the cobblestone streets just to admire the domed and multi-spired cathedrals on every corner. In Guanajuato a must-see is the home of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. It has many of their art works.

Mexico’s festivals are fascinating, where a curious mix of pagan and Christian customs happily co-exist. At Easter time (Semana Santa) one often sees half-naked indigenous persons carrying platforms filled with food for the gods as well as for the Virgin Mary.

Read about all the colonial cities here: http://microsite.smithsonianmag.com/ads/mexico/My-Mexico/colonial.html.

My co-favorite is the Riviera Maya. Now, we’re talking beach! It’s the prettiest I’ve ever seen. The white sand is like powder, and the Caribbean Sea isn’t more blue anywhere else in the world. It begins 24 miles south of Cancun and extends 100 miles along the oceanfront, bound on one side by the sea and the other with jungle.

Home of the present-day Maya, the ancient Maya lived there from 1000 to 1550 when they disappeared. No one knows why. Part of their city still exists at Tulum. I’ve visited many ruins in Mexico, but Tulum is special. Nights are spectacular as different colors light up the buildings. It’s then I can feel the ancients’ presence there, like a revered kinship. The Mayan mystique is ever-present. Its primary focus is preservation of nature. They believe mind, body, and spirit are connected to earth, water, and air. It’s a concept easily understood, especially when you visit a Mayan village. Coba Pac Chen is my favorite. Tours can be booked at your hotel. I highly recommend it.

Hotels are all sizes and prices, from elegant, all-inclusive resorts, to palapas with thatched roofs. As a travel writer, I stayed at the Bluebay Grand Esmeralda. It is beyond elegant. Next time, I will book a bungalow at Dos Ceibas. Take a look: www.dosceibas.com. Download a brochure at www.rivieramaya.com, and see the picture book, “Paradise is Forever.”

I hope you will visit one or both of my favorite areas. Each has its own culture. I guarantee you’ll say along with its people and with me: VIVA MEXICO!

 

Want more information? Please email me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can read about my Mexican adventures here: http://www.mildredmoss.com/travel.cfm

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