It’s the end of our trip in Mexico, and time for our usual overview of the country. With unrelated pictures, of course.
The history, the culture and the people
The Mexican History and culture is one of the most interesting we’ve discovered. It’s particularly interesting since Mexico was first home to the fascinating civilizations that were the Aztèques and then Mayans. We though we had seen enough ruins and temples in Asia, but we really enjoyed discovering the ruins of those previously incredible cities.
Unfortunately, most of those cities were either abandoned because their civilization declined – most of the time for unknown reasons (overpopulation and overexploitation of resources is often a plausible explanation) – or Cortes and its army destroyed them to built his colonial town when he conquered Mexico.
However, the colonization of Mexico by the Spanish conquistador adds a very interesting component to the country, laden with colonial towns and Spanish churches.
In terms of food, Mexican food is fat. Very fat. We basically fed on tortillas, whether it was tacos, enchiladas or quesadillas. That was in general fairly good, but not very elaborated and after almost a month we are really sick of it.
A food stand on the side of the road – that was excellent and insanely cheap
Activities and sightseeing
In terms of activities, Mexico was far from being a deception either. The beaches were amazing, whereas it was the blue Caribbean Sea, its underwater wonders (and whale sharks!) and beautiful beaches, or the more quiet and remote Pacific Coast with its amazing waves.
We will definitely happily come back for some more diving and some surfing!
The party was also great, and we met some really cool people over there. We just find the Mezcal – the Tequila that is not from “Tequila city” – to be a bit too rough of an alcohol for us!
Renting a car had a lot of perks: it was a bit cheaper than taking the bus, way faster and it gave us freedom to really go wherever we wanted.
World-cup on Mexico city’s zocalo!
However, that was quite an exhausting road-trip. Mexico is a huge country so the distances are huge. A 6 hours drive was not exceptional, and we drove a total of 4 916km in 17 days!
Unlike Australia or even Hawaii, it wasn’t 4 916 km driven on nice roads and highways. Mexican roads are really awful, full of potholes and of hundreds of small villages to cross. The most annoying things were the bumpers. Those things are seriously every-f*cking-where, even in the middle of the freaking highway where the speed limit is 110 km/h. And they’re obviously no sign to indicate them. In a simple village of 50 meters long we would find a bumper every 10 meters. We didn’t count but we’re pretty sure we’ve passed over a thousand of them.
Another surprising thing: the police. They do not give a damn about speed excess. We saw a lot of police cars on the side of the roads, with all their lights on, but they never control the speed and did not care at all if they were seeing cars obviously speeding. I guess they have more important problems to take care of than speeding…
However, we’ve been through a lot of Federal barrages. They often block the road, and randomly pick cars to be searched for drugs and weapons. That happened to us once, and we can assure you that they are more thorough than border customs: they went through everything in our luggage!
Thomas is trying to blend in
We understood why they’re so efficient after meeting a Mexican guy who explained us that when they catch people with drugs, they pressure him into bribing them to be let go. He also told us stories of cops planting drugs in cars when searching it for the next barrage, or refusing to give back the driving license without a bribe.
Population and safety
In terms of population, we’ve found Mexican people to be generally very nice. Most of them don’t speak English at all, so we had to get some of our Spanish back: that was good practice!
The traditions still go on, although more as tourist attractions
We hardly ever had to negotiate, and almost never tried to scam us. We only had a couple of times people of service station pulling tricks on us to make us pay more for gas (they are real magicians!), but we didn’t fall for it.
Some of them are really nice. Here is a present being personalized for free by a nice Mayan
As much as we were always very prudent, avoiding driving too long at night, the dangerous areas and always locking ourselves in the car, Mexico didn’t live up its reputation of a dangerous country. We actually felt fairly secured, as we didn’t encounter anyone aggressive (unlike Vietnam!), and as the police are everywhere anyway.
However, according to Mexican people, the police being everywhere is not necessarily a sign of security. The country is very corrupted, and we heard about cartels controlling some states in exchange for paying for electricity and roads, kidnapping people to offer them the choice between being recruited or being killed.
Planning the trip at a restaurant
The police itself sometimes taking advantage of its authority to extort money or even kidnap and rob people.
But again, we didn’t see any of that and always felt safe. Apart for that one group of cops who tried to make us bribe them for having peed on the side of the road: that was a good laugh.
Overall, we had a lot of fun in Mexico. It is closer from our westerners culture that South-East Asia countries, but has a rich culture and diversity that made it an awesome country to visit. We picked Mexico relatively randomly and we were surprised by how much fun it was!