You probably have an opinion about Mexico, even if you have never been there. We have all seen those American movies where “the south of the border” is pictured as the most dangerous, crazy, drug-ridden place on Earth. In those movies you will either get shot, raped or the drug lords will cut your hands off as soon as you get to Mexico.I mean…. seriously?! Can we focus on the real Mexico for a minute here, please? The one I know and love dearly. My trips to Mexico (two weeks in 2015, five days in 2018 and two and a half weeks in 2019) made me realize how unfair it all is- the untrue and hurtful stereotype of this fabulous country, that many of us carry in our minds. So here is a list of all the reasons why you should put Mexico on your travelling bucket list. You’ll never know how lovely it is, unless you go and visit!
Oh, I feel like I could go on and on about the people of Mexico and how nice, helpful, polite, open, sociable they are. I could write a book and make a movie about it-I got so much material! But I’ll just give you a short version of just some of the interactions I had with Mexicans in different parts of the country. Whether I was travelling alone or with my friends, strangers approached me with such kindness and hospitality that it filled my heart with so much warmth. Here’s a few random stories:
*I had my t-shirts hanging outside to dry and when I was out and about, it started raining. When I got back I have found my clothes neatly folded and put away, so that they don’t get wet. That actually happened to me twice- once in Cancun and once in Mexico city, someone I didn’t even know took care of my laundry. Ain’t
*Getting on/off a bus, can be a struggle as the buses in Mexico don’t come to a complete stop. A lot of times, they just keep on moving and you have to jump out or in. Strangers held my hand to help me get inside or outside and it was just pure kindness. Offering a helping hand- literally! Also, another thing that happens on the bus all the time is passing on the money. Let’s say you just got in, sat down and you realized you need to pay the driver, so you just pass the banknote to another passenger and they pass it on to someone else, until it reaches the driver. Then you get your change the same way. No need to worry that your money will disappear on the way, it just travels from hand to hand between you and the driver.
*Another thing I have noticed and honestly it struck me as quite amazing was how polite people are in everyday situations. Whenever I happened to sneeze, people said “Bless you” no matter if I was on a bus or at the airport. Every time I was eating at a restaurant, people who were leaving the restaurant wished those who are still
eating “Bon appetit” which never happened to me in any other country and it seems to be a common thing here.
*When I decided to go to Cancun for five days alone, I asked some of my friends if they know anyone I can hang out with in the city. One friend said, she knows one girl and we got in touch. She said she will be busy, but maybe her friend might have some free time. So I ended up meeting this distant “friend of a friend” and she introduced me to her family, drove me around the nicest beaches with zero tourists there and we have spent a whole day together having fun. She opened her heart to me, let me into her house, showed me around, let me play with her 2 year old son. And she had never seen me before, but instead of judging me or playing it safe she made me feel welcome in all possible ways.
*While celebrating Day of the Dead I walked into one museum with Catrina painted on my face. A security guard noticed me and walked up to me asking “Where are you from?” I said that I am Polish. He replied- “Well, now you are a Mexican”. He was just so happy to see people from far away respecting and embracing Mexican culture,
he said it makes him very proud. I told him it was my dream to visit during this time of the year and see it all. He then went on to show me and my friends all of the exhibition, explaining the meaning behind it. We took a picture together and when we were leaving he said- “We’re friends now”.
*Last but not least- one situation that almost made me cry happened in a church after a Mass we attended with my friend’s mum. We were just standing there and one elderly lady approached my Mexican mum. She showed her a bracelet and asked if she would buy it from her, because she needs money. My Mexican mum asked how much does she need and just put the banknote inside this old lady’s hand and said: keep the bracelet and take the money, I know you truly need it right now. This lady broke down in tears and thanked heartily. It’s just a simple choice- I see someone in need and if I can help, I will. That’s what Mexicans are like. The values we all know we should follow, they carry them in their hearts and act upon them. So when they say “mi casa es su casa” they really mean it and they will give you their last meal, even if it means they will go hungry (that happened to me as well actually!). The Mexican hospitality is beyond anything I have ever experienced.
To be honest I would go to Mexico only to eat. If there was no other reason to visit I swear I’d pack my bags right now, just to stuff myself with tacos. Luckily, the incredible cuisine is just another advantage of travelling to this lovely country. Imagine this- you have eaten some Mexican food before and it was tasty, now imagine that when
you go there is tastes 10 times better. It’s made of fresh herbs and salsas , non-processed meat, homemade tortillas and lots of love. I mean, you will never get some processed crap from a supermarket when you’re eating at food stalls – it’s all made by a grannie or auntie. So you get a home-cooked meal every time you feel hungry and that is why it tastes so great, because it has 100% real flavor. Nothing comes from a can or a box. The only thing you might worry about it the spiciness. But a lot of times when people see me, they warn me which salsa is the spicy one. I mean, I’m a güera (white girl) so everybody knows I can’t handle all the salsa burning my face off. What is amazing, every region has their own, special cuisine so you can spend a lifetime trying new things here. And then of course you got the holiday food, made only for that special occasion (like Chiles en Nogada for the Independence Day because the colors of the dish resemble the Mexican flag).
I can’t think of any other place where I’ve seen so many stunning waterfalls, lakes, canyons, beaches, caves, rivers, cenotes, jungles and more. Unlike any other place, Mexico still has a lot of perfectly hidden gems. There’s plenty of beautiful places that have very little or zero tourists. So you can go see a miracle of Mother Nature without the crowds. Just you and the pure, untouched paradise. It’s all so beautiful it will make you cry tears of joy! Sadly a lot of places are not respected and kept clean enough, with polluted water, trash and so on, but that happens all over our planet.
All history is fascinating. So what makes this country so different? To me the fact that in Mexico I can see the Mayan or Aztec ruins literally everywhere is the bomb! I’m a big fan of the history and my rule is – the older the better, so the times of mysterious empires of Mayas and Aztecas make me extremely excited. In the Mexico
City alone you can see a huge chunk of the past. At the Zocalo (main square) right next to the Cathedral are the remnants of the famous Tenochtitlán- the capital of the former Aztec empire. there’s even one metro station with a pyramid in it! I’m not kidding! During the process of building this end of metro line they uncovered a pyramid and decided to adapt it into the project, so now it’s a part of the metro station. One hour ride on a bus from the Mexico city and you’re taken back in time at Teotihuacán also knows as the City of Gods. The energy of this place is just unbelievable and you can still climb the pyramids (which is forbidden in most of the other archaeological sites).
Lucha libre, mariachi, Frida Kahlo, shamans performing Mayan and Aztec rituals – where else in the world can you see all that? The culture in Mexico is so vibrant, rich and colorful. I have been there to experience The Independence Day (Día de la Independencia) and also the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Words cannot describe how extraordinary it is, it’s simply something you have to see with your own eyes. The parades, the decorations throughout the whole city, every street, the music, the joyful atmosphere – it will blow your mind! Many of the old traditions are still alive here and that’s what makes it great- Mexican people don’t forget their heritage, they live and breathe it every single day. They’re very attached to their roots, which is something we can definitely learn from them. Modern world seems to chase everything that’s newer and better, forgetting all the legacy of the past generations. In Mexico the old rituals of Mayas and Aztecas have mixed with the Christianity
and the culture brought by the white conquistadors, creating a very interesting combination.
Every occasion is a good excuse to celebrate. You probably know this song that goes like “Canta y no llores” aka “Sing and don’t cry” and I think it describes the joyous Mexican spirit very well. Why would you cry if you can go through life singing?! No matter how tough life gets, these people don’t lose the positive attitude and stay hopeful in all circumstances. Any day is a good day for a little fiesta, life in Mexico is meant to be enjoyed. Happiness is hidden in little things we too often tend to ignore and miss while chasing something else. Mexican people don’t take it all too seriously, keeping a healthy balance between work and play (sometimes focusing more on the play LOL).
All I’m trying to say here is- before you believe what you see in another dumb Hollywood movie (where they open up skulls with machetes or some other nonsense) give the real Mexico a chance. You might fall in love like I did 😉