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28 August, 2016

Travel to Mexico

I must confess, Mexico was never on my to do bucket list. The negative publicity I had heard about the country, had influenced me a lot. When you hear about Mexico, what comes to your mind? The image is of drugs, poverty, crime, theft, Zika virus, etc. We also feel that it is too far from India. There are no direct flights. 
Let me break few myths here. There is strategic image building done by US, UK, etc for countries like Mexico, India, etc. Whenever, India is shown in BBC news, notice that they definitely show cows on the roads, beggars, slums, children and sadhus on the roads. But that is really not the India we live in. Whereas, that is the image anyone has if he has not been to India. Similarly, for Mexico, we have image of crime, drugs and of being too far. 
Mexico is a couple of hours of a flight from US. Even though, there would be more number of crimes and murders in Chicago or New York than Mexico, they will not be highlighted and reported but crime in Mexico will be highlighted. It is a strategic image building by US which wants more tourists coming to US and not going to Mexico. On my recent trip to Mexico, I found no reason to feel unsafe, witness any kind of crime, etc. In fact, I was super impressed by the scenic beauty, the culture, the traditions, extremely kind, friendly, colourful and helpful people, who are eager to show off their beautiful country. The food is delicious and there are amazing things to shop that were locally handcrafted. Their handicrafts were so similar to Indian Kashmiri embroideries that for once, I could not believe it that they were made there and not imported from Kashmir. See the video below to have a look at them. 

I came back wondering why many people do not explore the country, why we live with media created hype and myths, why Bollywood films are not shot in its beautiful locales. The country is vast and has so much to explore. I was surprised to find that Mexico was not just a "developing nation". The country has a strong economy, lots of arts and culture and great transport system. It is one of the most incredible and diverse travel destinations. From tropical beach resorts to rain forests, colonial cities, mountains and deserts, it has spectacular examples of each. It is a traveler's paradise. It is crammed with multitude of opposing identities- desert landscapes, ancient ruins, glitzy resorts, nightlife, party life, beaches and amazing flora. The mix of modern and traditional is the key of Mexican charm. Whether your passion is sipping Margaritas and Tequilas or scrambling over Mayan ruins, it has it all. It is a golfer's dream come true. Some of the finest golf courses are located in the beach resorts. The country is enjoyable year round. Mexicans are really family oriented. Nothing is more sacred to them than a family.
Mexico is one of the world’s great civilizations, Mexico is a melange of Mesoamerican cultures and modern indigenous tribes, Spanish traditions and a vibrant modern economy, the biggest in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico’s landscapes are just as diverse, from the shimmering blue coastline of Baja California and the iconic cactus-strewn deserts of the north, to the Mayan villages and gorgeous palm-smothered beaches of the south. You can climb volcanoes (the highest being Orizaba), watch whales, swim underground and tour tequila farms. And sprinkled throughout you’ll find richly adorned colonial churches, giant ancient pyramids and a sophisticated cuisine that has little in common with the world of nachos and burritos.
The 114 million people of Mexico reflect this variety, too. Communities of full-blooded indígenas, with the Nahua, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Otomí and Totonac the largest groups. There are also a few Mexicans of pure Spanish or European descent, invariably forming the ranks of the mega rich. The great majority of the population (over eighty percent), though, is mestizo, combining in themselves European and indigenous traditions with, to a greater or lesser extent, a veneer of urban sophistication. Add in a multitude of distinct regional identities, from the cowboy culture of the northern deserts to the Mesoamerican traditions of the south, and you have a thrilling, constantly surprising place to travel.
Despite the inevitable influence of the US, looming to the north, and close links with the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, the country remains resolutely individual. The music that fills the plazas in the evenings, the buildings that circle around them, even the smells emanating from a row of taco carts: they all leave you without any doubt about where you are.
If like me, you too have some pre conceived notions about the country, just throw them away. This is one place to explore. If you are an avid traveler and have not explored Mexico, you are definitely missing something. If you travel to US, definitely make Mexico a part of your itinerary. For now enjoy my pics and my video.

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