Mexico

Like its native jalapeno peppers and agave tequila, Mexico embodies a spicy, fiery passion for la vvida. This same spirit overflows from the country’s vibrantly colourful art and music, and its complex culture, history and geography. Mexico’s charm is its mix of modern and traditional, the clichéd and the surreal, the ancient and the brand-new. True to the country’s contradictory nature, the attitude towards the US, its neighbor to the north, is a combination of both uncertainty and longing.

October to May, to avoid extreme temperatures

Navigating your way through massive Mexico City, especially the Museo Nacional de Antropologia and the world’s largest open-air market Eating fish tacos at sunset on the beach in Zipolite Exploring the awe-inspiring ruins at Teotihuacan, Palenque and Monte Alban Being immersed in the Mayan world of the Yucatan Exploring Baja’s coastline and rugged interior Snorkeling at lsla Mujeres and Cozumel

Read eyewitness accounts of the Spanish arrival in the ;new world’ such as History of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz del Castillo; The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz is a poetic exploration of Mexican myths and identity

Listen to Vicente fernandez’ tear-your-heart-out ranchera ballads, Los Tigres del Norte and Café Tacuba-pioneers of rock espanol

Watch Mayan peasants fleeing north for a new life in El Norte; a taste of magical-realism romance in Like Water for Chocolate; the raw edge of Mexican cinema’s Nuevo wave in Amores Perros

Eat a commida corrida (the daily special set menu offerd in the markets), chocolate mole, sweet tamales with milk atole, staples like tortillas, beans and chillies, tutunas (prickly pear cactus fruit), nopales (cactus leaves)

Drink jugos naturals, especially the bloodike vampiro fruit juice (beet and carrot); all three alcohols from the maguey plant: tequila, mezcal and the less alcoholic pulque; cerveza (beer); spicy Mexican hot chocolate

Que le vaya bien! (may things go well for you!)

Mariachis; beaches and coastal resorts; trying to get to the US; Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo; telelovelas; cliff divers in Acapulco; the phrase manana; revolutionary heroes (from Pancho Villa to Subcomandante Marcos); border town; margaritas; Dia de los Muertos skeletons

Seeing pre-Hispanic ruins in the metro stations; the Olmecs were the first people to extrace chocolate from cacao beans-3000 years before anyone else; the Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana

The old expression ‘You are what you eat’ takes on new meaning here where cuisine is, above all, mestizaje (literally, a mixture). Like the nation itself, it was born of the fusion of native and Spanish cuisines.


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