What we love about México

After nearly 5 months of traveling in México it is time for us to move on so we can explore Central America. Our experiences here have been amazing and México has rather surprisingly earned a special place in our hearts.

Before our arrival in México we really didn’t know what to expect — after all, the press is not exactly complimentary in its coverage of this part of the world. Like most people (perhaps), we knew of the shanty border towns and the luxurious beach resorts, but not much else. Fortunately these are the extreme caricatures and not the reality for the vast majority of México.

Here are some of the reasons that we fell in love with México:


The friendliness of the people. Everywhere the people that we have met have been so friendly and so welcoming to us. Here people and relationships are culturally very important and this was evident everywhere that we went. The Mexicans that we met wanted to make a genuine connection with us and they often succeeded in doing so.


The Mexican culture. Mexico has a rich cultural spectrum that runs both deep and wide. There are archeological structures here that date back as far as 1000 B.C. (3,000 years ago!) and there are many others still standing that were built in the span of time leading up to the arrival of Cortés. Add to these marvels the beauty of the Spanish colonial architecture and the multitude of indigenous cultures that still thrive here and México has one amazing cultural mélange.


The food. Ahh… where to begin? There is such an immense variety here, all made fresh, and incredibly delicious. Some of our favorites include the fish tacos, the shrimp in mojo de ajo (garlic) sauce, fresh salsas, mole sauces, tortillas, chilaquiles, rellenos, tamales, tortas, nieves (fruit ices), aguas frutas, coffee (especially Café de Olla — which is coffee that is flavored with chocolate and cinnamon), chocolate, mangos, papayas, limes, avocados, and more. Yum!


A thriving middle class. This is a pretty big deal to us. Of all of the countries that we’ve visited (over 50 or so) the happiest societies tended to be in those places that have a thriving middle class. Not only do the people tend to be happy, but most people also tend to be gainfully employed and the crime rates tend to be low. All in all it makes for nice places to be. In most of México, this has meant that there were many local families enjoying the nice restaurants, and visiting museums and pyramids as tourists. Many of the middle-class kids have really nice toys — bikes, remote-controlled cars, and even game tablets. Yes, there is still poverty here (as there is in the U.S. and other countries), but because of the size of the middle class here, we felt like we fit in a lot more and were not treated like just tourists.


Zero hassles. While other travelers might have a different experience, we encountered none of the hassles that often go along with traveling in other countries. The touts (people selling stuff on the streets) were not obnoxious and were respectful of us when we opted not to buy from them, the police were always professional and courteous to us, and we were not asked to pay a single bribe. While we took the same precautions against theft that we did in the U.S. and Canada, we did not have anything stolen here nor did we worry much about it. In addition, the paperwork to get in and out of México (which we did twice each in different locations) was very straightforward and quick to complete.


Reasonable prices. Compared to our recent experiences in Canada, the US, and even Belize, the prices in México are quite reasonable. Because of the lower prices, we have been able to afford to stay here longer and to have enjoyable experiences more often. For example, we ate out at restaurants quite frequently and sometimes at rather upscale kinds of places. The medical care here is very good and affordable — it cost us US$40 each to get our teeth cleaned here, for example. This lower cost of living is undoubtedly a factor in why so many Canadians and Americans choose to retire here.


Climate. Before entering México, I envisioned the climate here to be mostly like that in Southern Arizona — a dry, desert environment with searing heat in the summer and cool days in winter. What I didn’t appreciate is just how varied the climate is in México. While most of the coastal areas can be hot and humid, the vast majority of the country is at a relatively high elevation — either in the mountains or on a high plateau. This provides for a much more varied temperature range. It can get below freezing in the coldest months in some areas and be quite warm in other areas. Also, unlike in regions further north, the warmest months are not in June, July and August. Instead, here the warmest months are in March, April and the early part of May before the rainy season arrives. Even during those warm months, it can still be cool enough at night in the high elevation areas to warrant wearing a jacket and some long pants (and sometimes hats and gloves are needed too!)


Child friendly. Kids are welcome everywhere here — even in the nicest restaurants. There are so many activities on offer for kids, including numerous water parks and playgrounds. On weekends there are bouncy castles, trampolines, and even little electric cars available for kids to use in the town plazas. Having Quinn with us opened many doors than would’ve been otherwise. People were genuinely curious about the boy with blond hair and blue eyes and would often approach us to ask his name and how old he is. Teenage girls in particular were enamored with him, but even grown men couldn’t resist asking us about Quinn and gently patting him on the head. That might sound a little creepy out of context, but it was all done respectfully and in good humor.


Probably the biggest compliment that we could give to México is that we believe that we could actually live here. That designation does not come easily to us — while we have visited many wonderful places over the years, there are very, very few places where we believe that we would be comfortable and happy living for some period of time. After all, there can a world of difference between what makes a place great for a vacation versus a place to live contentedly for months or even years. For us, for the reasons above (and more) México meets our criteria and is truly a special country. We will be back! 🙂

10 Responses to 'What we love about México'

  1. Kathy says:

    Jen, Witt and Quinn – this brought tears to my eyes – this is a wonderful summary of your five (WOW five) months in Mexico and your posts and pics have opened our eyes to the beauty of Mexico. Maybe it’s paradise???? Your reasons for your fondness of Mexico is laid out in such an easy to understand and well presented blog, from the culture, the food, middle class, reasonable prices, the climate and would you believe, child friendly on top of it. What else could you ask for? A great post and an eye opener for us. We think that bad press comes from the American media trying to be sensational, highlighting the negative and selling news. We’ve always felt our dealings with Mexican workers were contrary to American media. We had a lot of interface in Arizona as you know and we found them to be hard working, energetic, honest in their work and prices. Thank you so much! L, M&D

    • Jennifer Sparks says:

      Thanks for the rave review! It was because of the suggestion that you and Henry made that we were able to put some thought into this topic and attempt to address it properly. We’re so glad that you like it!

  2. Polly says:

    You write beautifully. I’m glad your travels have worked out to be every thing you dreamed of. What a fantastic journey.

    I am a little ashamed to admit that I have traveled all over the world, but I have never been to Mexico. Sounds like I need to check it out.

    • Jennifer Sparks says:

      Hi Polly, thanks so much! Let me know when you decide to come and I can help you decide where to go.

  3. Bobbie staggs says:

    Well, it all sounds so wonderful ! Thanks for the review. I will now think of Mexico in a different light. I am still wondering why so many want to come to the US illegally though. You were brave to try all those foods. Not sure if I would like them. But, I am not a Mexican food fan. Don’t care for spicy! Happy and safe travels as you journey on!

    • Jennifer Sparks says:

      Hi Bobbie, My guess is they come to my US for the work. Not everyone is middle class and so they cross the border to find work.

  4. Debbie Slobe says:

    Thanks for this wonderful round up of all the things you love about Mexico. This reaffirms our love for the country, and inspires us to want to explore it even more. We hope your travels in Central America and beyond are just as great. We miss you, and hope to see you again soon.

    Much Love,
    The Slobes

  5. jennifer pedersen says:

    So happy you guys are loving Guatemala. It’s one of my favorite spots. So beautiful and wonderful people. I hope you get to visit Xela in the mountains. I loved living.

    So happy Quinn is loving school. His Spanish must be growing by leaps and bounds!

    Hoping to be in Central America this summer. Maybe we can meet up. All the best to you three!

    Happy Trails,


    • Witt says:

      Hi Jennifer!

      Great to hear from you. We spent a couple of nights at Fuentes Georginas, the hot springs above Xela, but we didn’t spend much time in Xela itself.

      Hope you’re doing well. We’d love to see you this summer if you come to central america!