So I just finished my second big travel adventure, a trip to Mexico with my dad. We had a lot of fun and took a lot of photos. I had a pretty interesting experience, and I want to show you some of it.
On our first day in Mexico city, we grabbed a taxi back to our hotel, which was right in front of a beautiful park that had a castle in the middle of it, called Chapultepec Castle. It was stunning and had some interesting history behind it. But after our travel day, we soon headed back to the hotel room.
we decided to go for a walk to the Zocalo, the central square of Mexico city. the differences in architecture. There seem to be about five different time periods, all clashing together in the most unlikely circumstances. Mexico city is incredibly modern, but lots of old architecture still exist around it.
Fun fact: did you know that Mexico is built on a lake bed? The city used to be a lake town, but in the 1600s, they built a drain. The city sinks into the lakebed about 6 inches each year.
Oh yeah, these guys were cool. They were street performers, and they doing some impressive stuff. I wish I had a bit more footage of some of the other stuff they were doing, but the guy taking his shirt off while bouncing, on one hand, should be an example.
So when it came time to ask for some money, my dad handed me a 100 pesos to give to them. To a Canadian, that’s not too much. As of writing, about $6 CDN, and about $4.50 US.
But they shouted when I handed the bill to them, you could have sworn I had given them a hundred dollars. He asked me a few questions in Spanish, none of which I understood, but then asked me where I was from.
I eventually walked away, and as I did, he said something that made the whole crowd laugh. When I asked my dad what he had said, my dad responded “basically “don’t rob those guys, they’re our friends!”
Looking back, the scene does give me a moment of pause. It’s important to note that the Mexican economy is quite weak compared to Canada or the US. And the average wealth of the middle class has suffered for it. While I wasn’t trying to throw around money, that’s kind of what I was doing. I kept that in the back of my mind throughout the rest of the trip.
This day, we hopped on a tour bus to go to some different. We went to a few places, including a site of a mass student shooting before hitting the big attraction.
It almost looks like a mountain, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s the Sun Temple, part of an old Aztec archaeological site that was a pre-conquest city, called Teotihuacan.
(Not so) Fun Fact! Did you know that sometime in the 1400s, reportedly upwards of four thousand prisoners of war were sacrificed to the Aztec gods on the top of that temple?¹
That aside, the place is beautiful. I was even ready to climb the Giant temple, but I didn’t. For one very easy reason.
DAYS FOUR TO SEVEN:
These days, we were in Guanajuato, for two reasons. One: Dad had been there before and knew how gorgeous it was and Two: we really-
– didn’t want to be in Mexico city on new years. While we were in the hotel room, we would periodically switch to the Mexican news, and one time we did, we saw a story about some kids who blew themselves up with firecrackers and another where some people were smuggling incredibly strong alcohol in gas cans. When the camera cut to the news anchor, you didn’t need to understand the language to understand how tired and just how done he was. And that was before new years!
So we figured a nice, quiet town like Guanajuato would be perfect. But even here, the news year’s celebrations were definitely up to snuff.
We also had a lot of time just walking around the city. One of the more memorable places we went was a cool market in a huge building that looked like a aircraft shelter to me. We found people selling everything from pigs heads to mini statues of Don Quixote.
Oh yeah, the town seemed to have a thing for Don Quixote. There were multiple statues, inspired businesses, and tons of merch all about the self-proclaimed knight. They even have a culture festival called Festival Internacional Cervantino, named after the author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. I suppose it’s fitting of a town to hold a lot of pride for such a famous work of Spanish art, especially a town with such a lively art scene. You couldn’t walk down a street without finding someone playing some kind of music.
On the flipside, there was also a mummy museum, filled with these guys. Spooky!
Overall, Guanajuato offered spectacular views and sights but in a more relaxed fashion to Mexico city. However, in both places, I never felt unsafe.
You always heard that about Mexico. About how unsafe it is, and while that’s certainly more true in other places in Mexico, and you should always keep your guard up as a tourist in an unfamiliar place, when I’m being completely honest, if I had to pick a place throughout the entire trip that I felt the most scared, i would pick Houston. Tellers behind 3 inches of bulletproof glass. Angry cops with their hands always on their guns. Comparatively, some guy yelling at you selling a dubbed copy of My Neighbour Totoro for like 50 cents didn’t exactly make my heart stop.
And not to say that Mexico isn’t dangerous! The drug war and civil unrest certainly makes the country a heated climate, but the parts of Mexico we went too were very safe.
And always, people were so hospitable and helpful. With all the food, the music, the culture and all the wonderful people, I really loved my trip there and would love to go again, and would definitely recommend anyone else to go there as well.