In recent years, Mexico has seen an increase in tourism and its fascinating sights and ancient monuments are but additions to its already-irresistible allure. Warm climate, talkative and friendly people, exquisite food (and seasoning): these are the things that describe it the most. Yet, like most countries, it does experience a few bumps in the road, and we are going to talk about everything in due time. So without further ado, let us explore the top six things to know before visiting Mexico.
1. The scent of ancient grandeur:
Yes, you read that right: Mexico is riddled with sites that will not only leave you with a slack jaw but also take you to times long gone yet not forgotten. Totalling 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is one of the most historically-rich countries that one can visit. Visitors are especially urged to check out sites like Chichén Itza (and its renowned El Castillo Pyramid), the ancient city of Teotihuacán (including the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent), Monte Albán, the El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, and the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende. Mexico is an excellent place for you if you wish to delve deeper into the natural history of the planet and that of the pre-Columbian civilisations.
Do you know what cenotes are? They are small sinkholes that boast with significant amounts of fresh water. If you’ve seen those wonderful photos with underground natural swimming ponds, well those are cenotes. Mexico is riddled with them and their presence is most abundant in the Yucatan peninsula. What’s interesting to know about them is that the Mayans used to connect these cenotes with certain sacred ceremonies that were vital to their culture. These ceremonies used to include casting various crystals into the bodies of water and thus many of them will have a distinctly fresh feeling about them (this is due to the fact that crystals are believed to purify water). The Mayans are known to have used these cenotes to heal themselves and their effectiveness is said to be accentuated.
Though Mexico (as a country) cannot even come close to the situation of Venezuela or Honduras, it does have a crime problem that cannot be overlooked. Drug trafficking is one of the most urgent concerns of the country as, like Honduras, it is located on an unmistakable smuggling route towards the United States of America. Besides these problems, Mexico’s petty theft is so rampant that one should always keep one’s guard up, no matter where one might be. Speaking Spanish helps a lot as those who only dabble are often targeted first. If you happen to be visiting the city of Acapulco or its surroundings, know that it is the fourth most dangerous city on the world (beaten only by crime capitals such as Caracas, San Pedro Sula, and San Salvador).
4. Tulum and the subtle nuances of nudity:
While the entire Mayan Riviera is considered a “free spirit” zone, Tulum is indubitably the most nonchalant. What we mean by this is that there you are most likely to encounter full frontal nudity both from males and from females. While this is considered an inadvertent side-effect of the former hippie culture, Mexico does not sanction nudity – people are free to set their bodies free (wink). If you would like to do it yourself, then, by all means, go and visit Tulum, for it is not only a great place to peek into the Mayan past at, but also a beacon of unveiled beauty.
5. Tap water:
This is an unfortunate one for budget-savvy travellers as they will have to keep a close eye on what they are drinking. The tap water in Mexico is not drinkable and accounts state that it may cause diarrhoea and indigestion. Drink only bottled water and do not trust sources that you cannot trace back to their roots for they can easily ruin your trip.
One cannot travel to Mexico and ignore the general splendour that surrounds its cuisine – though it is not for everyone. Yes, most food there is as spicy as you can imagine and there really is no reason to believe restaurateurs when they say that your food is “no pica” (not spicy). Why? Because not spicy according to their standards is still spicy to the general tongue. On the other side of the coin, if you like spicy food, then, by all means, fire away and enjoy your stay (note the rhyme)! Do not fret if you can’t stand their dishes because you can always hop into a supermarket and feed yourself (wink).
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Mexico and how have they shaped your stay? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and don’t forget to check back for some updates from time to time! Safe travels and mind those burritos (wink)!