Our initial plan was to spend 3 ish weeks in Mexico; commencing in Mexico city for a night or two, then head West to meet a friend who would show us about, before exploring ancient ruins of Chichen Itza and a couple of beach towns.
This plan was quickly abolished as within a few hours of arriving in Mexico City we knew there was an incredible amount to see & do, the fictitous tales that our friends and the media had told us about crime seemed far from the truth and the people were incredibly welcoming. Mexico was completely different and far more amazing than we had imagined.
The preconceptions from the media and friends, we had were that Mexico would be dangerous, touristy and Americanised. Of course this is somewhat true in the tourist areas (basically the Yutacan Peninsula where the likes of Playa del Carmen & Cancun are based), however, this is very far from the truth for the rest of Mexico, where there is so much to see, so much amazing food & beers, ancient ruins galore, interesting people and incredible culture to explore!
Therefore, we ended up spending a good 2 months backpacking from town to coast to jungle to lake and so forth, doing a 10 day volunteering stint and improving our Spanish a hell of a lot since English was barely spoken in most of the areas we visited.
All in all, we LOVE Mexico and experienced an array of suprises along the way, such as…
1. Fajita? Never heard of it!
Nobody Mexican eats fajitas! In fact we haven’t even seen a fajita during our 8 weeks in Mexico. No wonder Old El Paso don’t appear to brand their packages as being Mexican…
Instead Mexican’s pile on their pounds (fact: Mexican women have the greatest level of obesity in the world) through eating tacos with every meal. These tacos are soft & doughy and either made with corn or flour!
2. A magical place called Guanajuato
Located 3 hours West of Mexico city which is probably the most beautiful place in the world we have ever visited!!
It is a small uni city which has so much history and Mexico are doing a good job of preserving it as a heritage site. There are few tourists, not many people speak English and every building is gorgeous!
3. It is easy to get ruin-ed in Mexico!
By this I am referring to the masses of ancient ruins to visit. Pretty much every town offers some sort of nearby excursion to ancient ruins and most offer something unique, e.g. the Tulum ruins are on the beach, Palenque is in the middle of a jungle, Monte Alban in Oaxaca is tiny and untouched by tourists. Therefore, you end up getting tempted to see them all and you become a bit ruin crazy and feel that I know more about ancient Mayan history than my own country’s heritage!
4. The kids love the chat!
Growing up in the Western world I feel we all have it ingrained into us early on ‘not to talk to strangers’ and therefore as a youngster I became scared or shy when a stranger tried to speak to me. However, Mexican kids are very open to chatting with tourists. In fact, I think they love the attention, and sometimes even the cuddles…
This picture is from a very bumpy 8 hour journey in the Oaxaca region where this little girl adored Sam and kept crawling from her mums lap to hug him!
5. There are such a wide variety of landscapes on offer
97% of worlds terrains can be found in Mexico….they have the coast, deserts, jungle etc.
6. Weeing as a girl can be challenging
If you are above 5ft 3 and a girl, going for a wee is a nightmare, the toilet doors are impossible to shut on long legs!! People often comment on Sam’s height as he looks like a gigantor in comparison!
No picture of this to share unfortunally…
7. There are plenty of friendly gangsters to meet!
See Juan below. When we volunteered in Playa Del Carmen he was staying at the same hostel so we got to know him pretty well over 10 days.
He calls himself an ‘entrepreneur’, ‘inventor’ and ‘player’. Juan was trying to get us to join him on his latest business idea which was to create a fruit machine style app that works on Whatsapp. Instead of pictures of fruit it shows images of girls. If you get three of a kind you have the opportunity to date that lucky lady….
We declined his offer…
8. Mexicans are far classier than Brits when drunk
Then again, who isn’t…
9. The postal system is horrendous.
There is no such thing as a post box, you have to send everything by going into the post office.
A few pictures below to showcase our DAY at the post office. After sending an important letter home via 1st class recorded delivery nearly a month ago, it still hasn’t arrived.
10. Cancun is not the real Mexico
Tourists have taken over and the same for Playa Del Carmen. These places are now American, not Mexican!!
However, there are cool places really close to Cancun that are (incomparison to the big ‘C’) quite untouched by tourists. Such as Isla de Mujeres where it is the norm to hire out a golf buggy and drive around the island all day!
11. There are more stray dogs than homed.
A lot of them are ill and die on the streets, ’tis very sad.
However, there are also some really good animal rescue centres where you can volunteer!
12. The policing seems fairly corrupt.
When we had our stuff stolen and we reported the crime at the police station, we were asked:
Police lady: ‘ah was this the 11pm ADO bus from Palenque to Merida?’
Me: yes it was, how do you know that’
Police lady: ‘it happens every Monday, Wednesday & Friday to some poor tourist on that route’.
How do they have this information and do nothing about it!?!
13. The cool kids don’t drink corona!
Instead Modelo, Pacifico & Victoria are the beers Mexicans actually seem to drink.
Plenty of love from Priltz xxxxxx