The Youth Time Travel Guide to Mexico

From stunning beaches to incredible history - oh, and tequila - there is no wonder Mexico is one of the world's favourite tourist stops.

Joyous people, mouth-watering food, some of the best beaches and beach resorts in the world, colonial architecture, temperate climate, terrific archeological sites, cultural festivals, and fabulous nature reserves beckon you to Mexico. 

The country has 35 UNESCO heritage sites. Is it time you visited them?


A Brief Background

After the Mayan and the Aztec civilisations, by 1521 the Spanish began to conquer this country. 

By 1600 the conquest was complete and settlers from Spain began to arrive. Even though the country finally declared independence in 1821 their troubles were not over. 

It was the turn of the Americans now and Mexico eventually had to sell what is today Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, some parts of Utah and Wyoming for a “princely” sum of 15 million dollars to the Americans after the war with them from 1846 to 1848. This was after the annexation of oil rich Texas by the Americans.

The bloody history continued for several decades until 1930 when economic growth began.

Today, the country is among the world’s largest producers of oil, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas and wood. Other major minerals found here are mercury, cadmium, antimony, manganese, iron and coal.

Tourism is an important sector. The country is the sixth most visited in the world and gets close to 100 million tourists each year.

The income per capita is around $10,000 which is about $20,000 when worked out on a PPP basis. 

But the wide gap between the richest and the poorest remains. An income of around $700 per month offers a comfortable living standard,

Since most things are more affordable in this country, many retirees head for Mexico, most especially from the US. According to them there is always a fiesta, a religious festival, civic celebration, a neighbourhood party, fireworks, music and dancing happening.

Since the presence of cartels is almost everywhere and there is always a conflict between the government and the drug trafficking syndicates the murder rate is the highest in the world in Tijuana, Juarez, Uruapan, Irapuato and Obregon. 

Ironic, but since many of the resorts are said to be owned by the cartels, tourists are relatively safe. 

Tourists and business visitors will find themselves as safe as most places in the world so long as they don’t wander into seedy areas. Which is what one would say about most places in the world.


Things To Do And Not Do In Mexico

Most Mexicans begin their working day around 9.30 or 10.00 and carry on until 7.00 to 8.00 in the evening. So if on a business visit, your meetings will be around these times.

As a business visitor you will be expected to be well attired. It takes a while to establish business connections as in any country and you may have to travel to the country a few times before anything useful culminates.

You will usually not be given an appointment on a Monday or a Friday. Business lunches and dinners begin at around 2.30pm and 9.30pm respectively and go on for a few hours. 

Discussing business during the meal is acceptable.

As a tourist, just be prepared to have a great time.

Hit the beaches with white sand, many of which are surrounded by tropical trees or jungles.

If you’re fond of scuba diving head for Cozumel, the island with crystal clear waters and diverse marine life.

Swim in a Cenote. These are natural swimming holes and caves. They were formed by limestone and almost all of the Cenotes have fresh and clear water that has been naturally filtered.

Fond of surfing? Go to the Pacific coast which is all of 7,000 kilometres and more with several surfing spots.

Go for walks in several of the colonial towns.

Visit the Basilica of Guadalupe.

There are many cultural festivals in Mexico. Ask at your hotel about the nearest one and participate. You may have to buy a ticket.

Go to see some of the awesome temples and archeological sites.

Don’t drink tap water.

Eat plenty of street food. Most especially tacos are sold everywhere. You will also have a choice of quesadillas and other traditional Mexican foods. 

While you will have a wide choice of international cuisine, if your stomach allows, stay with Mexican food as much as you can. You will love it.

Drink tequila. Many mistakenly believe this drink is made from cactus. It’s actually made from the Agave plant and is known  to be a happiness giving drink. Careful about how many drinks you down since it’s easy to get carried away in the atmosphere. Make sure what you’re drinking is made from 100% Agave. 

If you’re there on All Saints Day, known in Mexico as the Day of the Dead, celebrate with them. The celebrations go on for a few days and remembering those who have passed away is celebrated as in many communities in different parts of the world.

Buy a sombrero. It’s useful for protecting you from the sun and to take home as a souvenir.

Photo: Shutterstock

Now for somewhere completely different, and probably rainier…

The Youth Time Travel Guide To Ireland

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