The Real Mexico

Spring 2001 CSANews Issue 38  |  Posted date : Mar 08, 2007.Back to list

When you cross the ocean to visit the lands of Europe, Asia or Africa, there are expectations of a foreign language, different customs and strange foods. But one does not have to travel nearly that far to visit a different world. When you pack your bags and head for Mexico - not the Mexico of the enclosed resort - but the real Mexico, you must realize that you are in another culture, almost another time.    
We had the opportunity, through the Mexican Tourist Board, to travel to several areas of Mexico. It is both exciting and daunting at the same time. From the huge metropolitan airport to the village markets in the mountains, it is a complex mixture of the old and the new, encompassing everything from Mexico City, with its skyscrapers and traffic, to the tantalizing aroma of handmade corn tortillas in the marketplace.

The Mexican tourist boards are anxious to encourage Canadians to visit more than their famous enclosed resorts. Mexico has much to offer, if one knows where to go ­ or is willing to ask. Little-known historical and artistic sites, picturesque scenery and many comfortable hotels usually frequented by Mexicans add to the cultural flavour of the country.

Cities such as beautiful Cuernavaca, a weekend community for Mexico City, and Cuautla, farther south in the mountains, can be interesting holiday destinations. Cuautla boasts one of the largest health spas in Mexico- sparkling pools of sulfur water right out of the mountainside. Jewels like this await the visitor who wants a different vacation.

On the west coast, there lies the city of Colima, close to the Pacific and set amid groves of coconut palms. The city is beautiful and clean, with a colourful city square, many outdoor and indoor restaurants, a theatre with folkloric productions, art galleries and museums nearby. And the air! The mountains, ocean and blossoms all mingle, as one visits shops or enjoys the sights and sounds.
Life in the real Mexico is a wonderful experience. However, one must remember that this is a different culture, a land where the tourist is easy prey to the person who does not obey the laws. As with any foreign place, it's imperative that you learn the safe roads and safe areas of the cities. In fact, it is a land you do not explore without advice on where to travel.

Could you winter in Mexico? The climate in the south is wonderful, and some centres are building good hospital facilities. Living is economically reasonable in some centres, but prices are rising. The Mexican people, as a group, are friendly, anxious to please and willing to help. Many local universities are offering language courses to help newcomers learn to speak Spanish, and will give art and cooking classes as well.
Mexico has much to offer but, as a winter resident of a town on the border (we winter in Brownsville), my advice would be to take several guided tours (not promotional tours) to the areas in which you are interested, stay a few weeks each time or in each place, and investigate carefully before making any commitments. I have met several Canadians who winter in Mexico and several who live there permanently, and they express the highest praise for their lifestyles. Conversely, I have also met some who have had bad experiences with overpriced dwellings and shady highway officials.

The real Mexico has much to offer. If you have never visited, think of it for your next holiday!

My husband, Bruce, and I would like to thank Lourdes Jiminez and the Mexican Tourist Board from Toronto. They provided us with the opportunity to visit both the places I have mentioned and others just as exciting, as representatives of the Canadian Snowbird Association. The courtesy and good will shown by the tour people, the hotel owners and others involved made the trip most pleasant, comfortable and informative.