Today I’m sharing my latest edition of my travel column over at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Invitation. And today, we’re off to Mexico!
Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Traveling to #Mexico
This edition of my travel column is all about Mexico and what you need to know about traveling there.
I love Mexico and have been there many times over the years, visiting several different parts of Mexico in the past. My favorite Mexico destination is Puerto Vallarta, located on the Pacific west coast of Mexico. I recently spent one month there last winter and looking forward to two glorious months there next winter.
Mexico’s official name is The United States of Mexico – Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Mexico is comprised of 32 States. It is also the 11th most populated country in the world with a population of over 118 million people, and the 14th largest country by land. The climate in Mexico is hot and humid – less humid in the interior states. Mexico has the 9th largest economy in the world. Their main industries are: food, beverage, Tequila, Corona beer, tobacco, cotton, iron, steel, and last but certainly not least – tourism. Their rich natural resources are silver, petroleum and natural gas.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. Mexico City is the capital, originally built on the ruins of the Aztec capital, which was destroyed when the Spanish conquered the Aztecs. Although the language predominantly spoken in Mexico is Spanish, there are in fact 68 languages spoken there by the natives and approximately 350 indigenous dialects!
In the year 2000, Mexico finally became a democratic country after 7 decades of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the ‘PRI’. Like many other countries in the world, there are parts of Mexico that are safer than others.
Popular Places to Visit in Mexico and Places to Avoid
Currently, there are 7 northern names states and 3 western named states that are on travel advisory lists, mostly due to cartel violence. If you click on the link supplied above with the named states, you will see that specific cities are named on the advisory in the named states. Sadly, some of my fond memories of yesteryear vacations were in the once beautiful Acapulco (in the state of Guerrero) where the cartel has finished off that resort town for travelers. And although the beautiful and serene city of Manzanillo located in the state of Colima, is said to not be part of the advisory of that state, there’s not a shot you’d catch me going back there either.
So where are the safest and most popular tourist locales?
Many people love to visit the rich culture in the heart of Mexico, Mexico City. Another popular place people like to visit, and incidentally, many ex-patriots make their home in is San Miguel Allende, which is a beautiful city located in the interior of Mexico, not far from Mexico City. But the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico are Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific west coast and Cancun/Playa Del Carmen on the eastern gulf coast.
Have a look at the map of Mexico HERE to get a broader scope of where the different cities are located geographically.
I always loved Puerto Vallarta and had spent quite a few vacations there through the years but hadn’t been back there for almost 10 years until last winter because my husband and I got hooked on cruising and exploring the Caribbean. We always said that we must go back to Puerto Vallarta and with the advent of the current administration in the U.S. and the devaluation of our Canadian dollar, we took the plunge last winter and we had the time of our lives.
Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful coastal town, and my, has it grown. I love that it hasn’t lost its native charm, yet, has grown with the availability of many North American amenities. We rented a beautiful condo right on the beach.
We shopped our groceries at Walmart and Costco, a short walking distance, and ate out at some spectacular restaurants. One block away I could get my daily dose of a Starbuck’s Soy Vanilla, Sugar-free latte. A five-minute cab ride north is the beautiful Marina area where the cruise ships dock nearby and many restaurants, yachts, shopping and weekly markets can be enjoyed. A ten-minute cab ride takes me downtown to what’s known as the ‘Malecon’ which is Mexican for the boardwalk where hundreds of people stroll, eat, shop and watch artists at work and displaying their crafts for sale. The people are friendly and the value for our dollar was fabulous. The sunshine is also virtually guaranteed daily, save for their short rainy season from mid-June til October, boasting approximately 300 sunny days per year. Honestly, I don’t recall ever seeing rain in Puerto Vallarta.
The weather in PV is hot and humid by day – usual temps in winter (November thru April) can range anywhere from the high 70s to the mid-90s. We spent last March there, and I found the days became exceptionally hotter once mid-March hit. The nights often offer a cool ocean breeze where I have been known to actually have to throw on a sweater when walking through town.
Cancun, being on the gulf side, is known to have sporadic rainfall and has become quite Americanized through the years. I personally have never gone to that side because I prefer knowing I’m waking up to guaranteed sunshine, and besides the weather, I also prefer the unspoiled feeling of being in Mexico when I’m in Mexico, not feeling I’m in a more commercialized locale, and according to the many I know who have been there, a lot more expensive in Cancun. I don’t need American dollars in Puerto Vallarta, and my Canadian dollars get me great value with Pesos. U.S. dollars are used a lot in Cancun and food and beverage are also more expensive there.
So, let’s get into what you need to know when visiting Mexico.
Facts, Dos, and Don’ts, and Safety