Our Mexican connection, the emotional connection we have to Mexico, its people, culture, and food bewildered many of our friends who went to Europe before the Americas. When we were planning the yearlong grand tour of the world that launched Grantourismo, our project sponsors were also surprised we preferred to go to Mexico over the Caribbean islands. Here’s why.
We often got asked why we included Mexico on the 2010 global grand tour that launched Grantourismo. At the time, Mexico was a favourite of North American tourists but still considered to be off the beaten track by most other travellers. So for many of our readers it was a surprising choice.
All these years later, after our first trip to Mexico as young backpackers way back in the Nineties, when I just get a whiff of corn tortillas or hear a mariachi band, I get nostalgic. So when people ask us why we love Mexico so much, we explain it by our special connection to Mexico, which formed on our very first trip.
Here are a handful of reasons why to explain our connection to Mexico.
Our Mexican Connection Explained – 5 Reasons Why We Love Mexico
Here’s how we explain our Mexican connection, why we love Mexico so much, and why it was always going to be on the itinerary.
Mexico Was the First Country We Travelled
Mexico was the first country* we travelled, backpacking its length and breadth, way back in the Nineties. How much did we love it? We loved every little bit of it. Mexico inspired our wanderlust and a lifetime of travelling.
How badly did we want to go? I said I’d resign from my writing job if I couldn’t get eight weeks off for the trip instead of the usual four weeks annual leave. Thankfully I still had a job when I returned.
That Mexico would be on the 2010 grand tour itinerary was never a question for us. We would have abandoned the project if our project partners couldn’t have included it. Thankfully, it wasn’t an issue and it was.
We Learnt Valuable Travel Lessons on that First Trip to Mexico
We learnt some of our most valuable travel lessons on that first trip to Mexico. For instance, the travel guidebooks told us that Mexico was dangerous and to wear money belts under our clothes everywhere.
Being the naïve travellers we were back then, we did. They smelled like a wet dog after a couple of days and our passports, money and travellers cheques – yes, travellers cheques! – were soggy.
That was the first and last time we followed travel guidebook advice. Until we started writing our own travel guides for Lonely Planet, of course…
Mexico Taught Us the Importance of Learning the Language of the Country You’re Travelling To
In Palenque, nursing tequila-induced hangovers, Lara ordered fried potatoes for breakfast in an effort to curb the pounding headache and settle her stomach.
She had to nod, smile and swallow whenever the kind old lady who had made the dish wandered by our table and proudly asked how Lara liked them.
You see, the dish turned out not to be the patatas fritas that Lara thought she was getting, but platanos fritos or fried plantains – fried green bananas drenched in a cream sauce.
Not exactly a hangover cure. Trust us on this one. But a very good lesson in why it’s important to learn more of the language of the country you’re travelling to.
We had actually taken Spanish language lessons before that first trip to Mexico, but obviously not enough to know the difference between patatas and platanos.
Mexico Inspired Our Passion for Discovering Cuisines When We Travel – And Gave Us Our First Bouts of Travellers Belly!
We became so ill with Moctezuma’s Revenge** on the way to the surfing town of Puerto Escondido that the only raging currents I faced there were the ones that occurred every time I flushed the toilet. Which was often. It was our first bouts of traveller’s belly!
It’s funny now. But it wasn’t so funny on the twisting, turning, 12-hour bus ride through the mountains between Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido when it occurred. We probably shouldn’t have gone back for seconds of the creamy coconut ice cream shakes at Oaxaca’s market.
Despite two days in bed recovering, we were so inspired by Mexican food that as soon as we arrived back home in Sydney, Australia, I bought my first cookbook, The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy. I can still make a couple of recipes from the book from memory to this day.
Mexican food, both the good experiences of it as much as the bad, had a big part to play in forming our Mexican connection, why we’d return to Mexico in a heartbeat, and why we still cook Mexican food no matter where we live in the world.
*We actually visited Tokyo first on a 24 hour stopover on our way to Mexico. Don’t ask why we took a flight to Mexico via Japan. The authorities when we landed at Vancouver airport (no, really, we also stopped in Vancouver!) already did. Over and over and over again. Our first bout of nasty immigration officials!
** It was called Moctezuma’s Revenge in the 1990s on our first trip to Mexico, and on our multiple trips to Mexico in between that and our grand tour trip in 2010, named after Moctezuma II, the ninth emperor of the Aztec Empire. But while updating this post we have come to realise that in the years since it has more commonly become known as Montezuma’s Revenge… named after?!
Published 26 August 2010; Last Updated 7 May 2023