Even though some of the things I saw during my Mexico trip seemed negative and disconcerting, there were many aspects that I greatly enjoyed. One of those was the beautiful scenery. Even the most impoverished places I saw had sights I wouldn’t have been able to see anywhere else. The entire trip gave me a view of Mexico I wouldn’t have expected, from the somewhat primitive Indian villages in Chiapas to the city of Merida, some parts of which are almost indistinguishable from cities you might find in the United States.
I also saw a wide dichotomy between old and new, between ancient traditions and modern religion, between religious and secular. Modern buildings stand side by side with ones built four or five hundred years ago. In some cases, the old buildings seemed to be in better repair than the new!
Descendants of the Mayans still practice some of the traditions of their ancestors while also being part of the Catholic religion that’s so prominent here. They practice Mayan rituals inside Catholic churches, and in some places even hold Catholic services in a style that’s more Mayan than modern. Catholicism is huge here, with many saints’ festivals, particularly the one celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s own personal version of the Virgin Mary.
And next to some of the churches, especially in the cities, huge US corporations like Coca Cola sponsor non-religious Christmas displays that allow residents to see Santa Claus and hear Christmas songs from the US.
The entire trip gave me a fascinating glimpse of a country and culture with which I wasn’t previously familiar. Mexico definitely stands out in my mind as one of the trips on which I learned the most and saw the widest variety of sights and people. To end things on a positive note, I wanted to share my top ten favorite sights in Mexico. Believe me, it wasn’t easy to choose only ten!
10. Crops on slopes and the mountain view from the road to San Cristobal
9. The rich suburb of Merida, whose malls and roads look just like Houston!
8. Various marketplaces
7. Various religious processions, ("posadas")
6. Dzibilchaltun ruins
5. The town of San Cristobal
4. Uxmal ruins
3. Chamula & Zinacantan Indian villages
2. The Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe
1. Chichen-Itza ruins
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