The topic in my Sociology class a few weeks ago was over global inequality and stereotypes, which reminded me of a common generalization of Mexico that I've come across pretty often here in Austin.
For most people, the frequent misconception about Mexico is one of a country that resembles its border cities: dirty, crowded, desperate, and poor. I'm embarrassed to say that I once ignorantly thought the same way. When I ventured further into Mexico for the first time, past the border towns, I was astounded at how beautiful the country is. Relics of the past have been reverently preserved in city structures, and, amazingly, are still used by the public. Go deep into the country and the landscapes are sweeping and gorgeous, an ominous desert and a tropical oasis all at once. Most of the colonial cities still retain the Spanish city layout, with a plaza in the center surrounded by elaborate, ornate buildings and churches; walking around, it’s not hard to convince yourself that you’re in the middle of Europe.
There are places of urban myth, like the famous Callejon de Beso, where a Romeo and Juliet-like story told the tale of two lovers who, forbidden to see each, met on their balconies in the exceedingly narrow alley to kiss. It’s an incredibly romantic spot, unless, like me, you don’t happen to have someone to kiss when you visit. *Sigh* Hopefully you won't get made fun of by the tour guide, which is really embarrassing and might make your self-esteem drop a couple points.
If Mexico is lacking in anything, it's definitely not in churches. Dating back to Spanish settlement, the churches are spacious, opulent, intricately decorated, and strangely humbling.
And then there are snapshots rich in ancient history, like the Aztec pyramids, still as awe-inspiring today as they probably were then.
I'm not being idealistic in picturing Mexico. The country certainly has its share of problems, both social and economical, but it's also more than just one of drug trafficking and masses of migrant workers heading north. It's a country of gorgeous landscapes and of a people deeply embedded in its history and culture. There’s more to Mexico than clay pottery and Frida Kahlo dresses—it’s definitely a place worth seeing and experiencing, where you can have fun, enjoy the ice cream, and gain some new insights.
P.S. I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday. The past few weeks have been hectic with term papers and final exams, but I’ll be back to posting regularly as soon as they’re over and done with (I’ve just gotta hold out one more week…).