Journey Jotters

Bitten by the travel bug

I have tried to capture the essentials of our Mexico spring break, in this set of posts. Traveling to a place is fun. But reliving the experience while documenting the trip, makes it more so. There’s time to sit down and savor the taste of the journey, long after it’s done. To sort through the photographs and recall a fun memory, a wet day, a refreshing drink.

Mural at Mexico City airport

Mexico was all that and more! For starters, the trips back and forth were easy, just one flight away from Dallas. And despite all the worries we had going into the trip, it felt safe, even in crowded Mexico City. Interestingly, the children were the first to remark on this once we got home. And I felt happy to hear that. If they thought it safe, they were more likely to be traveling there again.

As expected, Mexico City was crowded, the traffic was dense, and it took time to go anywhere in the mornings. But many places were accessible by Uber, and trains, if timed well. Or by walk, as many locals did. I was glad that we did not choose to drive there. While the traffic was not as bad as in India or other places, I think driving would have stressed us. Outside of Mexico City, the situation was significantly better and did not affect our plans as much.

One thing we did not expect was the natural diversity of Mexico. Visiting the Sierra Gorda was eye-opening for us. Its sheer beauty, the diversity of ecosystems, the efforts to maintain the ecological balance, left us surprised and happy. Every one of us needs to do our bit to preserve this Earth and make it a better place for our future generations. The Mexicans are working towards this.

The food was different from the TexMex that we are used to here. The flavors were much milder, yet the taco fillings were simple, fresh, and satisfying! We ate plenty of fresh, sliced avocados, but not a single serving of guacamole. We were introduced to nopales and huitlacoches, ingredients we would not have thought to make sense on a taco! And yet, they were delicious and sated our appetites well. The portions at first took us by surprise, but we soon learned to navigate that by ordering more, as we needed! Guess Mexico had whetted our appetite for more!!

Mexico has a rich history and heritage. Everywhere we went, there were reminders of both. In the cobblestoned alleyways of cities and towns, in the beautiful architectural elements of homes and public buildings, in the numerous churches, basilicas, convents, and missions, in plazas and plazuelas. Everywhere we turned, a small piece of history made its way to the fore, like a bubble rising to the top. From ancient city ruins to modern museums, many stories were told, civilizations revisited, many freedom struggles recalled with pride. For history buffs, this country is a magnet. So much to learn and absorb!

Many colors of Mexico

Contrary to my expectations, people we met seemed to be content with their lot in life. No one seemed desperate to jump at a chance for a better life across the border. There was a lot of travel within Mexico, particularly on the weekends. Every place we went, was busy with tourists from other states. Families and friends seemed to enjoy hanging out, reminding me of Greece, where similar interactions occurred. I was especially enchanted with the plazas. While we have visited several in South America, what I liked about them in Mexico was the smaller size, the music and the people. They turned out each evening, to stroll, to dance, to talk and socialize. From little children to teenagers to grandparents, they hung out with their groups, livening up the evening as soft chatter, laughter, and music wafted across the air. I cannot remember the last time I met my friends on a workday evening to socialize. I also liked that we could walk from one plaza to another on our way back to the apartment and enjoy a slightly different feel in each. It made the walks to and fro easier and kept us feeling safe.

The vibrant hues of Mexico were another huge attraction for me. Be it the rich blue of the Frida Kahlo Museum or the flamboyant ochre of the Guanajuato basilica; there was nothing muted about the colors of Mexico. Colorful mercados, brightly painted homes, brilliantly colored flowers, attractive shopfront decorations, and people’s clothing joined in weaving a rich tapestry.

Although it took us so long to do so, I am glad we visited Mexico. People, food, culture, history, music, nature, traditions; Mexico is an amalgamation of all this and more!

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