I’ve been lucky enough to visit Mexico three times over the last six years, a record that is seemingly common and not enough at the same time. While America frequently shows Mexico in a xenophobic distorted lens, or one geared for tourists, the truth is far different than people expect. There is no doubt that Mexico has its issues, but their reality is not so distorted or different from that of the United States.
My trips to Mexico have surprised me over the years. Growing up, due to the stories, you have a slanted view on the country. “Don’t drink the water” is frequent, “watch your wallet” another common tale, and the classic “what about the cartels?” are as much a part of the American knowledge of the country as knowing the Maya and Aztec were a thing. What all those statements miss is the rich beauty and delight that every trip to Mexico has brought many visitors over the decades. It also ignores the reality of the complexity of the cartels and the daily life for locals. It also pretends that we don’t also face our own issues with guns, violence, and gangs in the United States, which we all know we do. We should also mention the US influence, and gun trades, that causes or exacerbates the issues.
Mexico is what it is on paper, and much more and it ultimately comes down to the remarkable and warm people. On every trip I have met someone that made the experience memorable. Sometimes it’s a jewelry sellers, trying to send me home with tanzanite or obsidian – everyone has a hustle and I always leave smiling at the experience. Other times it’s the art dealer that doesn’t speak much english but helps as she can and takes extra care in wrapping up a treasured piece. In wilder moments it’s the drug dealer that laughs with me when I say I’m from Colorado – and we have plenty of weed THANKS!
Each trip to Mexico has brought something new to my memories and love for the country. It is the passion to share and celebrate, but also the deep roots of generational recipes and traditions, it is stories of the past – the Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec – but also what that means now. It is being skeptical of foreign developments for tourism, but also embracing tourism in new and more meaningful ways, making it their own and transformative. It is discussing the colonial past and how to advance native peoples now. It is archeology and the study of former civilizations, and seeing new ways forward. It is performance art that is unparalleled to anywhere else in the world.
Each trip to Mexico leaves me inspired, revived, alive, and with a giant grin on my face. The warmth of the people, the landscape, the food, and the soul of the country offer a respite to all that visit. If you haven’t visited Mexico at all, or in a while, I highly recommend revisiting the passion and heart of one of my favorite places to return to!