Mexico and I have a complicated history. Without knowing it, Mexico has left a greater impression on my life than any other place I have ever been. Growing up in New Mexico, inherently, would give me a connection to Mexico, but in all honesty, you can easily avoid it if you stick to your own group. I was first exposed to Mexican culture in high school. At Albuquerque High, our homecoming events, school assemblies and holidays all revolved around this complex connection with Mexico.
Through my four years at the school, I was exposed to so many new things both by the people but also by the environment. Mariachi music, latin dancing and Mexican food became the comforts of home that I began to accept. It wasn’t until I lived in Mexico City during an internship in the summer of 2015 that everything came into perspective. My time in Mexico City shaped me in many ways. It was the first time that I was truly alone in the world. The place where I over came my fears of trying new things and the first place where I truly opened my eyes to all the intricacies that this world holds. Mexico was the first place where the language barrier affected me, the first place where I saw true poverty and certainly the first place where I felt like a minority, an outsider.
These struggles for daily existence in Mexico have become an nuanced part of how I view the world and how I tackle situations head on. I love Mexico, the vibrant colors and people, the spicy and exotic foods, the rhythm, pace of life. It’s a wonderfully dangerous, intense and wild place. It’s hectic, peaceful, rich, poor and everything in between. The contrasts in the rugged landscape define its people perfectly and has shaped a place as unique as any. Nothing makes sense in Mexico, yet everything has its own place.
MEXICO CITY (CIUDAD DE MEXICO)
Mexico City is simply amazing. On face value, one sees the poverty, the dirt, the grime, the crowds of people and hectic lifestyle that comes with a big city. Mexico City now is different from the Mexico City of 20 years ago. They have solved much of the cartel crime, the pollution and the large anti-American sentiment. It is a city on the rise with a bolstering economy, new businesses popping up as far as the eye can see, a booming food industry and an art culture that rivals the best in the world. The city is old, really old. The current Federal District sits upon Tenochtitlan, the ancient capital of the Aztec Empire. You can find Aztec artwork and influence all over the city, the ruins of old temples and a lingering food connection to the way people used to eat in the Pre-Colomumbian era.
The city itself is beautiful in its own right. Mexico City is dotted with different districts that each have their own flavor, look and style. I lived in La Condesa, which can been identified as the cities newly gentrified region. La Condesa is full of new and vibrant restaurants, bars and nightlife. A wonderful space that embodies the direction that the city is going. My time in La Condesa was awesome. I lived in a small shared apartment with my roommate Picho, a happily bearded 30 year old who likes nothing more than to kick back, play some music and enjoy the good things in life. My apartment was in a neighborhood called Escandon. It was definitionally Mexican in every way and made for a great place to spend my time. The streets were filled with small Mexican eateries, taco stands and pop up markets.
The community was designed to be self sufficient and if you had to, you could never leave, yet buy everything you could ever need. On Tuesday mornings there would be a market that would cover the entirety of my narrow street. Food vendors, salespeople and everyday goods hockers would all set their rickety, red tented stands up. The smell of roasted chicken, sizzling chorizo and fresh made tortillas grilling on the plancha would fill the air. The sounds, the smells, the hustle and bustle of people coming, people going. It was a comfortable cacophony.
- The Top of the Latin America Tower
- Mercado San Juan
- Estadio Azteca
- Tacos al Pastor
- Chorizo Verde
I think the first time I went to Cabos was when I was around 14. My parents bought a time share at a resort called Fiesta Americana. We used to go once a year, a tradition that my parents continue to do to this day. For me and my travel style, Cabos was always a bit boring. I am not good at sitting in one place for too long. I am also not a huge fan of swimming so its certainly not my dream vacation. Upon getting older I do see it for its merits, a place for relaxation, a place to kick back and put your feet up; a margarita on the beach, some nachos, a fire pit on the beach, the cool ocean breeze. Believe me, I get it.
The town itself is interesting. Its hard to get a good read on the town considering almost the entire industry on the peninsula is based around tourism. We all know the Cabos identity; spring break, crazy parties and a place that college kids go wild in. I have never done that so I can’t vouch, although I hear it is quite the party. Cabos definitely has some authentic Mexican experiences out there but you have to do a bit of digging and to get away from all the resorts and tourist trap restaurants.
I put Cancun and Cozumel on this list as well because I have only been there in the same capacity as Los Cabos. They are all huge tourist destinations which lack local color and flavor. I understand mass tourism but I don’t support it. Not a fan.
This takes some preface because when I am in Cabos we rarely travel. When I was about 16 my family decided to take two day trips away from the resort the first time we went to Cancun. We hopped on a bus and went to Chichen Itza. Simply amazing. The second time we went to a place calle Xel Ha, a water park that features a tons of crazy things to do. Snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, awesome beaches . Would definitely recommend.
- Chichen Itza
- Xel Ha
- Cabos Pier
- Tacos de Nopales
- Marlin Nachos