Under the spell of Mexico's colorful histories and fabled towns
There’s nothing like knowing Mexico—the place I first came to know by sampling gourmet enchiladas and watching Thalía on television—than by taking in a forkful of Tostada de Gusanos de Maguey, an assortment of agave worms, grasshoppers, and chicantas ants served on a tray. Like my experience of tasting this delicacy, my week in the Latin American country was colored by fright and thrills, many of which I wouldn’t have tried had Mexico not been too charming to resist.
I’d like to think Mexico has hypnotized me. From the moment I stepped foot in its city capital, which is one of the most populous and vibrant modern cities I’ve ever seen, to when I visited the tree-lined streets of San Angel and Coyoacán and the waterways of Xochimilco, I was immersed in its whirlwind of culture, traditions, and habits. My time there made me feel like a citizen rubbing elbows with Frida Kahlo— which, in a way, I did.
I walked the footsteps of some of Mexico’s most revered artists and writers, including a visit to Kahlo’s Casa Azul, the artist’s house-turned-museum dedicated to her life. I also visited the Museum of Dolores Olmedo, a 16th century building with a cohesive collection of fine art as well as hundreds of pre-Hispanic figurines and sculptures.
There were so many sights, and taking them in was more important than seeing. At Xochimilco, I cruised its canals on a colorful trajinera while learning about the Aztec’s ingenious technique of growing food. There was also Teotihuacán, one of the most important Mesoamerican sites in the Americas. The gastronomically exciting and scenic Oaxaca had me visiting markets, meeting chocolate-makers, and trying local hot chocolate, while the sacred archeological site of Monte Albán was a trip through time.
Navigating towns like San Miguel de Allende, a bustling expat center peppered with cathedrals, shops, restaurants, and art galleries, was an experience, and walking on its cobblestone streets to get to the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, a World Heritage Site adorned with Mexican baroque murals, was unforgettable.
The Atototonilco Gallery presents the best Mexican folk art there is. Here, gallery owner Mayer Shacter showcases works from talented and imaginative local artists and craftsmen alongside antique pieces and craft items borne out of centuries-old traditions of Huichol art, Mexican pottery, Mexican papel mache, vintage
serapes, Oaxacan wood carvings, and many more. My last day in Mexico was spent at Guanajuato, a great place to sample regional Bajío cuisine. I traipsed in its narrow streets and underground passageways, wishing I didn’t have to leave this country and its rich history.
But of course, I had to. Many years of traveling had taught me this: you never leave a foreign country unless you want to. Mexico, since my visit, has stayed with me. •
Mexico has a little bit of everything for everyone. From flavorful food to historic sights.