Travel is supposed to expand your horizons and teach you new things about the world, and maybe even yourself. With this thought I decided to figure out just what I have learned from 10 weeks residence in Mexico. Of course, you must appreciate that I have not been in the big cities, but have covered a lot of territory and spent a lot of time in San Miguel de Allende, a gem of a destination, as attested to by thousands of world visitors, and which is often listed as one of the top 10 places in the world to visit. So just what have I learned?
The weather in central Mexico is wonderful. It gets down to the 50’s at night and into the 80’s in the daytime. Mind you, this is during the spring when the Great Northwest is swinging between rain, wind and snow and rarely gets out of the 50’s. As a bonus there are no bugs like in the tropics, and the bougainvillea bushes and Jacaranda trees are beautiful.
Even when immersed in a country with a foreign language I realize I can get by with about 50 words of vocabulary and the natives figure out my problem. My words are also mostly nouns and very few verbs. You know the words I need, like: banos (bathroom); caballeros or hombre (men); cerveza (beer); mas (more – to be used as mas cerveza = more beer!); por favor (please as in por favor banos); cuanto cuesto (how much – needed for helping out Mary Ann, the world’s greatest shopper); la cuenta por favor (the check please). Well, you get the picture, and with a lot of hand signals I get along just fine.
For those of you who have been following my semi-daily travel blog on the internet (http://tomoffthebench.blogspot.com/), having to write regularly has really improved my writing description skills. You have to consciously record what you are seeing, as you see it, and for the “Quirky Living Notes” you have to study those things that are different and contrast with your normal living style.
At least in San Miguel, you feel completely safe. There are a lot of helpful police officers (who I try to avoid), but there seems to be very little crime. Graffiti is minimal and the government requires removal within 72 hours. In any case the locals seem to keep everything very well painted in the vibrant colors of Mexico.
I have found all of the Mexicans courteous and polite, even drivers in town who will always stop to let you cross the street.
In every town there is always an eclectic colorful Mercado, which contains the stalls for fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, meat, chicken and a lot of handicrafts. If you are brave you can also try the food stands and get tortas (sandwiches) and a wide assortment of Mexican dishes which are unrecognizable to this gringo eye.
Mexico has the most beautiful well behaved small children and a lot of them. Mary Ann is continuously taking their photos and has quite a collection of adorable pictures. They are always clean and the little girls are always the best dressed of anyone in very pretty dresses.
You do see the contrast of the wealthy and the poor, although it is not as apparent in San Miguel de Allende as in other communities we have visited. On the streets you do see the begging Indian grandmothers sitting on the sidewalks and the small children selling Chiclets and Indian dolls. It really however, is just part of the color of the town and part of the excitement of being outdoors and part of the life of the community.
When driving on the highways you get to see the most amazing things, as you can see from the attached photo, such as the animal stampede that recently stopped our car.
Foreign travel is an exciting, entertaining and challenging experience for anyone. Instead of Disneyland next year, give a foreign trip some consideration.
© Thomas C. Warren 2007