You have given me your best, and I love you for it.
I met incredible, hard-working, proud people. I saw some of your doctors, met people who work in politics and the justice system. Waiters and taxi drivers served me with the utmost professionalism. As a traveler in Mexico for the better part of two years, I believe I understand you more than the average tourist.
The states I have seen are beautiful. Your Pacific and Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico beaches are stunning; your mountains and highlands are peaceful. Your markets in every city and town I have visited are thriving places to shop for fresh food and colorful goods; your banda, mariachi, and marimba music all lift my spirits.
You’ve changed me for the better. You taught me the value of a siesta in the hot months — heck, in any month. You’ve taught me to relax on minute-to-minute time. More importantly, your people taught me more about humility.
Yes, there is a dark side to you. Every country has one. But even in the poverty-stricken areas I have visited, people have treated me well, and I’ve tried to return the kindness. I never felt in danger in any single spot anywhere in your country. I’ve walked around alone, as a woman, at night, with no fear.
Language could have been a barrier, but it wasn’t. Mexicans always had patience with me as I fumbled along with minimal, horrible Spanish and my effort was always appreciated by your patient people. Now, after so many months in your country, I can communicate on a very basic level of Spanish. Este bien. Eres muy amables. Gracias.
Let me please take a moment to apologize for the behavior of many Americans. I’ve seen how American tourists in hot spots like Playa del Carmen or Puerta Vallarta sometimes treat your people. Please know: not all Americans are greedy and self-centered pricks. There are many expats and travelers who hold Mexico and Mexicans in high regard – people like me.
I have made genuine, lifelong friends with some beautiful Mexicans. A few of the more meaningful experiences I’ve had with new friends included conversations about politics in both of our countries. We have a lot in common. We’ve come to accept politicians everywhere can be good or bad, just like all people. I specifically want to apologize for the derogatory way the American president has treated you and your people. Please know that kind of behavior from that man disgusts me, and many people like me.
Your kind people have invited me into their homes and hearts. I’ve heard some of their stories about trying to go north into the U.S., and other stories about family members who already are there. I’ve been stunned and humbled when some of my new Mexican friends – people with hardly any financial security – have given me material goods: a small purse, a small toy. These items hold huge, humbling meaning for me. These gestures have melted my heart over and over throughout my travels to your beautiful communities.
It’s a long list of places we have visited: Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Chetumal, Mahahual, Campeche, Sabancuay, Mexico City, Rosarito Beach, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Ajijic, Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa, Huatulco, Puerto Angel, Puerto Escondido, San Cristobal, Tuxtla, Oaxaca City, Zihuatanejo, Mazatlan, La Paz, Cabo San Lucas. These are places where we laid our heads and spent a week, or a month, or longer. There are other cities and towns we visited on day trips, such as Ciudad del Carmen, Xcalak, Zipolite, Barra de Potosi, Bucerias, and Teotihuacan to name a few.
I would say this to any American or Canadian who is afraid to venture out in Mexico beyond the usual all-inclusive hot spots: stay positive and open-minded; be treated how you would wish to be treated – use common sense; enjoy yourself – there is so much to love about Mexico. Also, overcome fear of a people and a culture different from your own, and witness a truth: we are all the same inside — gringos and Hispanics.
Mexico, I am off to explore other places on the planet now, but you are always in my heart.
This isn’t goodbye, dear Mexico, it’s a ‘see you later’ — it’s a declaration that my husband and I will be back – he loves you, too. There is so much more to you and your people that we have yet to experience and discover.
With love and gratitude,