Contributed by Anna La Viajera
Mexico is really far from the Philippines, and unlike other Latin American countries, it has stricter visa regulations for Filipinos. On top of that, I’ll give you more reasons to discourage you from visiting this country.
1. Do not visit Mexico if you just want to relax at the beach
Mexico is more than its top-rated tropical beaches or vacation resort spots off Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta. Its landscape is notoriously diverse — from snow-capped mountains to lush forests — and, its ancient culture and arts are massively rich. With all these, your adventure in this country is definitely endless.
Pyramids of the Teotihuacán
Aside from its gorgeous beaches, Mexico is also known for its ancient, grand pyramids like the Pyramids of the Teotihuacán, which you can tour for a day. Mexico City alone offers several day excursions such as the boat canal tour in Xochimilco, a pilgrimage to various colonial churches, a walking tour around the largest plaza in America: the Zocalo, among other activities.
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
A visit to their local wet markets or bakeries is already a fun-filled way to experience their culture. Who wouldn’t be enticed to smell and see big pieces of bread in various shapes and styles? How about large chillies in different colours and sizes? It’s a feast for the eyes and taste buds as well.
See? There’s so much to discover! So, if you’re just up for the beach, you’ll be missing out a lot about the country.
2. Do not visit Mexico if you are on a diet
Fried quesadillas with Mexican rice
It’s undeniable that Mexico is not left behind by other countries in the tilt of best food. Its cuisine is a mixture of the indigenous Mesoamerican and Spanish cultures. This mix and outside influence have further developed the richness and variety of the Mexican cuisine.
Who hasn’t heard of tacos, or at least tried them once in their life? Mexican foods are just so widespread and popular worldwide. Once you’re in Mexico, in every corner, you’ll always get to find a taqueria which is a food stall that sells your favourite street food, the tacos. The delicious-looking tacos will surely leave anyone craving for more.
Tacos are just one of the wide-ranging Mexican dishes that Mexico is famed for. Quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas are everywhere in the country as well. You cannot just take for granted these authentic, appetising Mexican dishes. Leave your strict diet rules at home when you’re in Mexico.
Also read: 10 Things to Do (and Not to Do) in Mexico
3. Do not visit Mexico if you can’t speak Spanish (at least the basic phrases)
Every visitor who wants to enter Mexico shall have to learn basic Spanish unless it’s fine with you to get blank stares or cold shoulders from the locals. Even their neighbours in the north have to be taught on or brushed up with their Spanish in order to communicate well with the natives, not the other way around. And it’s not easy to get lost in a vast country where the foreign sounds and street signs are undecipherable.
It’s a common courtesy to practise Spanish phrases before embarking on a trip to Mexico. Mexicans expect you to speak, at least a bit, of their language. But really, no matter how exotic or Asian- looking you may be, you’d be surprised that they will still talk to you in Spanish upon first encounter. If you are interested in their place or culture, why not in their language as well, right?
Fear not if you think this language barrier might prevent you from travelling in a non-English speaking country like Mexico. Jump this obstacle by learning the most basic and everyday Spanish conversations. That’s the trick there. Besides, isn’t Spanish a beautiful language? To add, when a curious Mexican approaches you to test your Spanish, isn’t it rewarding when you know some Spanish expressions to back you up? You’ll see how amazed they will be at you when they hear you trying to speak their language.
4. Do not visit Mexico if you don’t like to party (a lot)
Image credit: Selena N. B. H.
With over 5,000 fiestas annually, — that’s an average of 14 fiestas day — Mexico is truly one of the fiesta capitals of the world. No matter which season or time of the year you’ll drop by in Mexico or at any Mexican town, you will surely chance upon a Mexican fiesta. Be it a religious festival or a town fiesta, everyone in the community participates.
Also read: 5 Happiest Festivals in the World
Their fiesta is reflective of their colourful culture with florid flowers, piñatas and bright painted decorations. They normally wrap it up with a series of firecrackers and burning of the castles (Quema del Castillo). These castle-like structures are adorned with letters and images that are being lit up by coloured gunpowder for a spectacular sight. Be ready to be in the groove anytime when in Mexico.
5. Do not visit Mexico if you don’t like to drink (a lot)
When there’s a party, there’s food, yes. There’s lively music, certainly. Then, there’s the overflow of booze. Mexicans’ love affair with drinks is not under wraps. They do not drink only during fiesta time. Even in normal days, meeting up with friends or inviting someone over requires a session of beer drinking, along with storytelling. To add, Mexico is widely related to world-famous drinks like Tequila and Corona. When someone mentions Mexico, these products come to mind. Don’t you agree?
Mexico is an adequate place where different types of drinks can flourish and develop. Its soil is suitable for agave plants, from which tequila and its predecessors are made. The hundreds of productions and brands of beer and other alcoholic drinks in the country explain the high demand for alcoholic drinks.
Lots of fiesta and a variety of drinks spell fun!
6. Do not visit Mexico if you don’t eat spicy foods
Chillies are their sacred ingredients, the secret to their flavourful dishes. Oops, I just spilled the beans. If you are not used to hot food, forget about visiting Mexico. Or you can, but set aside their chillies or spicy sauces. For them, food without chillies is like food without a taste. This is because chillies do not only serve to give that extra bite but to enhance the flavour as well.
The types of chillies are as varied and diverse as the country itself. Each chile has their distinct taste and level of spiciness. It matters what kind of chile you put in a food or how it is being prepared, whether grilled or boiled, because it will affect the overall quality of the meal.
Don’t worry, there are foods dished up that are not spicy. However, the sauce that accompanies it usually is. But you can spare it if you feel you are being punished. I’m not scaring you guys. I mean if Japanese or Korean food is piquant enough for a typical Filipino; Mexican food is like that for an American.
7. Do not visit Mexico if you don’t know the meaning of “agua”
In Mexico, agua doesn’t only mean water; I mean the natural water that we need in our body. Remember, agua in Mexico also refers to a drink that is a part of water and a part of fruit juices such as coconut, jamaica and guava, among several fruits. Of course, there’s pure bottled water sold at convenience stores or supermarkets, but if you order them in a restaurant or eatery, always bear in mind that agua is a mix of juices and water.
During my time in Mexico, I knew for a fact that water is agua in Spanish. However, I was taken aback by the other meaning of agua here. I forced myself to have soft drinks even though I didn’t like it because the waitress informed me that there were no other drinks, only agua and soft drinks. I went for the latter, thinking that agua is just the regular water. But when I watched my other companions ordering agua and got juices after, that’s the time I deciphered the mystery of this term in Mexico. Even little things matter.
8. Do not visit Mexico if you don’t like to watch their wild sports
Lucha libre (wrestling) and rodeo (bull riding) are just some of the wildest sports that Mexicans are fond of. Include football if you think it is too. Just kidding. Some contested that lucha libre and rodeo are not sports but a form of art. Although the more popular opinion believed that they are indeed sports.
When you see muscled masked wrestlers smashing each other’s faces until blood is already poking out of them, or when one of them is striking the other with a hard-hitting object, isn’t it disheartening? But this is live entertainment after all. I cannot guess if it’s just a real exaggeration or it’s exaggeratingly real even after watching a full show of it live at one of the biggest fighting arenas in Mexico, the Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara.
The kids liked watching it but I felt uncomfortable seeing bull riders being dismounted off from the stern, restless bull. Mexico has the finest and biggest bulls in the world. Yet, it also has the most skilful bull riders. Only one of them will end up as a winner; it’s either the bull or the rider. So, the bull riding competition is tough and will keep you up on your toes until you find out that everyone is safe. This sport is something that Mexico learned from their previous Spanish coloniser but continues to be practised especially during religious festivals.
Desierto del Carmen
Being the centre of Latin culture in America, Mexico embodies the Latin spirit in all forms, from its music, fiesta, and food, down to its architectural styles, arts, and traditions. Mexico seems to have a parcel of each country. It has both the fours seasons and tropical climate, high-reaching, alpine mountains and barren deserts, tropical beaches and ancient ruins, Hispanic churches and European-styled castles. Mexico almost has everything.
So, you want to visit Mexico?