Impressions of Mexico
How on earth could we suggest that what follows here is more than 'impressions'? We extensively explore the highlands plateau of Central Mexico, and we travel the Ruta Maya in the Yucatán Peninsula. But so much more remains to be explored in Mexico, so many things more remain to be discovered along the Caribbean coast near Veracruz and in the Northern deserts, where the 'barrancas' are larger, longer and deeper than Arizona's Grand Canyon. Mexico never really gets ticked off from your bucket list as a travel destination, regardless how many return visits are on record. There always remains so much for a next time.
Mexico usually enters world news for the violence related to its drug cartels and for troubling events involving Latin American migrants trying to reach the US. On the brighter side, Mexico is also known for the mariachi music of little bands with large sombreros. But there is also another Mexico, the one which is much less embedded in the country's commonplaces and which I was so fortunate to experience over my various visits : the Mexico of extremely friendly, communicative and open people, in large cities and in small villages alike, the Mexico where I have felt free and secure, also walking the streets after sunset, the Mexico of a great and authentic eating experience, with clean, tasty and spicy street food of tacos, chilaquiles, gorditas, barbacoa and quesadillas, all prepared at lightning speed and served on unassuming, shaky tables, set up somewhere in a corner of a bustling and noisy, very noisy covered market place.
I am quite happy to invite you to a digital trip to Mexico City and Central Mexico. Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world, with a population well over 20 million, but with an amazingly compact, beautiful and interesting historical centre, the famous murals of Diego Rivera and his companions and an Anthropology Museum of absolute world class. The highlands of Central Mexico, in a wide circle around the capital, is dotted with colonial cities such as Oaxaca, Puebla, Taxco, Morelia and Guadalajara, all impressing for their distinct character and ambience. Uncountable are also the sites which have dominated pre-Hispanic indigenous history: Teotihuacán, Monte Albán, Teotenango and Tula are only some of those places. Locations like Querétaro and Dolores Hidalgo have greatly contributed to determine the course of the country in modern times of independence, while cities and villages like Pátzcuaro are remarkable for the headstrong way in which they cherish and display their deep indigenous roots.
I furthermore also invite you to explore with me, through the eye of my lens, the peninsula of Yucatán, the land of Maya culture, sub-tropically wedged between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Composed of much more than the justly world-renowned site of Chitzen Itzá, the Ruta Maya winds through the peninsula as a string of temple complexes that reaches far into Guatemala and Honduras. Some of these Maya sanctuaries stand like watch towers guarding the turquoise expanse of the Caribbean, other temples are literally tucked away deeply in the dense inland forest, for centuries forgotten, to be rediscovered only in recent times, all of them delivering an imposing testimony of a highly developed and structured Maya society, different from the indigenous civilisations of Aztecs, Toltecs and Olmecs in Central Mexico, and yet strongly interconnected with them by common habits, science, mythology and beliefs. Perhaps the cities of Mérida and Campeche may be more modest and less princely than their colonial counterpart towns of the Central Mexican Altiplano, but they have their own style of attraction and charm.