Back to the land of Maya ruins and Tabasco chili peppers

Mexico travel series: Read other chapters | See photo gallery

↑ Sitting in front of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, Hidalgo.

Next week I’m tavelling to Mexico for few days thanks to an incredibly cheap ticket I found. It’ll be my second trip there, this time to the southern states with somewhat remote destinations. (Well who am I kidding, nothing is remote anymore.) I’ve sketched an itinerary around a 550km loop, starting from Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas and ending in Villahermosa, the capital of Tabasco, passing through San Cristobal de las Casas, and Palenque.

Why I recommend everyone to travel to Mexico

Mexico is a beautiful and a very colourful country. It is very “American” in some respects, but wildly exotic in other aspects of travel, such as a collectivist culture, different food, language, and way of doing things. For those who haven’t ventured outside USA and Canada, and are hesitant to travel anywhere except western Europe, I always recommend visiting Mexico and giving it a test run. (And no, resorts don’t count.) It will expose you to enough of adventure (assuming that’s what you like about traveling) while still being close to your comfort zone.

Mexico will prepare you enough to enjoy more challenging destinations, such as India.

↑ “Neveria” (ice-cream parlour). You can get a Tequila icecream, with chili sauce on top.

Finding the purpose of travel and enjoying getting lost in Mexico

The last time I was in Mexico I had an epiphany of sorts. I was on a bus from Mexico City to the town of Taxco, in the middle of the Sierra Norte mountain range. I had a limited number of days and wanted to see maximum number of places, so my schedule was quite hectic. The bus was passing through a valley, on a highway gently spiraling to the top. It was really scenic at that time if the day (dawn). I was getting restless being on the bus and watching everything go past through tinted windows. I wanted to be outside, but I also wanted to reach Taxco on time.

Impulsively, I asked the driver to stop. He was kindof grumpy (crazy gringos!) but let me off.

Well, I got off literally in the middle of nowhere, on a highway far away from the town, not a soul in sight. Maybe it wasn’t the wisest of decisions… Then I heard the wind whistling through the valley and shadows of wispy clouds dancing over little rectangular farms surrounding few houses far away. The sun was just rising, and the air was light and chirpy. The place was waking up, birds leaving their nests in search of food, blades of grass drooping from a heavy drop of dew, a rooster interrupting someone’s sleep.. You know, things like that. And I was there to see it all. Yes, it was simple and ordinary, but it was still awesome.

I only realised it later that the reason I enjoyed this moment was because efficiency was not on my mind. I didn’t care about having missed the bus, being late at my next destination or worrying about other logistics.

I remembered that this was the reason I liked travelling. I liked to experience something unconnected with time, something unconcerned with the physical necessity of being in a given place at a given hour.

Soon enough a collectivo minibus came by, full of people giving me odd stares. I made it to the city taking the scenic route.

↑ Signs or no signs, angels or no angels, one is bound to get lost at some point. So why not enjoy it?

There were numerous such instances – a collectivo driver forgetting to let me know when my stop arrived, failed attempts at hitchhiking in Yucatan, catching a wrong bus because the destinations sounded similar, etc. Each time I discovered something new and quite enjoyed this whole mix-up.

Aren’t you worried?

My travels are by no means go-with-the-flow type. I like to research a lot, and before going to a place I’ll have local maps memorized, a number of guidebooks read, and even achieved elementary language proficiency. With those factors in control, the number of things that can go wrong gets significantly reduced.

With that homework done, I hope to end up in more unpredictable, unplanned, and unknown situations just to keep things challenging.

To me, the whole point of travel is personal spiritual development, and we all have different ways that work for us. I urge you to find yours in whatever you like to do (doesn’t have to be travel), and maybe get more from this life on this planet. 🙂

Bon voyage!

Mexico travel series: Read other chapters | See photo gallery