Have you been to Mexico? I never had, until a surprise trip sent me down the Mazatlan, Mexico last weekend!
This was my first trip south of the border, which is kind of weird because Mexico is RIGHT there hanging out by California and Texas. Basically I’ve been to China, Iceland and Australia, but I never bothered to visit my next door neighbors with the tequila bar and endless supply of guacamole. I don’t have any real excuse either, it’s just never really happened.
Thank goodness this has been remedied! Here are the reasons I went to Mexico, and that I’m so very glad I finally did:
I Was Invited
I may call myself a budget traveler, but I’m an opportunist at heart. I’ve been wanting to visit Mexico for years, so when the Mexican Tourism Board invited me on an all expense paid weekend getaway* I had to think about it for about negative 2 seconds before I jumped.
The even was a travel “tweet-up” (right up my alley), in the beach resort town of Mazatlan. With a quick google search I was able to discover that Mazatlan, on the pacific coast of Mexico, is most famous as the “shrimp capital of the world”, and as the birthplace of the ubiquitous spring break bar Senor Frogs. Intriguing…
If you know me in person at all you probably know about my deep and demanding love for mexican cuisine. This passion has lead me to seek out mexican food all over the world- I’ve eaten subpar quesadillas everywhere from England to Vietnam. Nothing compared with the mexican food in the United States… until now.
Mexican mexican food was every bit as awesome as I’d imagined. Fresh and festive and locally sourced, much of it from the ocean we were sitting right next to. I’m not a big fish person- but the shrimp… shrimp ceviche, shrimp tacos, by the second night when Mike and I found ourselves ordering a towering pile of seafood called the Shrimp Boat, we realized we may have overdone it.
Not to mention the steak tacos, the barbacoa, the guacamole (drool). Or the ubiquitous taquerias we were constantly passing. If and when I do go back to mexico I’m going to be in serious danger of eating the entire country.
Aside from the food, this is the major region why people head to Mexico right? I didn’t get to hang out much at the beach in Mazatlan (I may have been slightly more enamored of the swim up pool bar- I know, I know, but…swim up bar!) but I could tell it was pretty spectacular.
Mazatlan has on of the longest beaches in Mexico. The water is really, ridiculously warm and beautiful. The best part of being on the pacific coast is, of course, the sunsets:
I’m Not Afraid of Mexico
I’ve been a lot of places in the world, but I think I got more negative reactions by telling people I was going to Mexico then any other place combined. There are some serious misconceptions going on about the safety level of tourists in that country- which is, I suspect, part of why I was invited in the first place.
I’m not dumb or careless, I know there is a serious drug war going on in Mexico right now, so before I got on any planes to anywhere I did my research. I think that it’s always important to separate the hard facts from the media spin, and what I discovered through is that as long as you aren’t involved in any drug war activity, Mexico is just as safe for tourists as most international destinations and many domestic ones.
This was confirmed by my experiences in Mazatlan. Although I did see a few intense looking police-soldier guys with guns, I didn’t feel unsafe at any point during my trip. This includes the afternoon when Mike and I skipped out on the pre-arranged activities and decided to wander around downtown Mazatlan on our own.
Which isn’t to say you should fly off to Juarez right now or anything. As in most places, your level of safety depends on where you go. I just think it’s wise to check out the actual facts for yourself before you declare a place unfit for visitors.
I only got to spend 3 nights in Mexico this time around, so it really just served as an appetizer (maybe some metaphorical nachos or chips and salsa) of what the country is all about. It’s beautiful, it’s interesting and the people were some of the friendliest I’ve met. I’m dying to see and experience more of Mexico: the local foods, the local culture, the smaller, out of the way places. I’m not sure when I’ll be back down South, but something tells me it might not be too long from now at all.
* Disclosure: As you’ve probably gathered, my trip to Mazatlan was sponsored by the Mexican Tourism Board, however all opinions are my own.