It didn’t take long for my thoughts to be directed South of the Border. It was a very literal reminder— I came across an American Eagle Latitudes magazine almost entirely devoted to “Exploring Mexico’s Treasures.”
I wonder what they wrote about Mérida, I presumptuously thought. The issue seemed to take on an intellectual tack, geared toward history and architecture. Naturally, Mérida must be on the center spread. A foldout of the Paseo de Montejo perhaps?
Alas, no. Another piece of Yucatán was not overlooked, however. “Immerse yourself in the Riviera Maya” by Bret Love was a nice feature that began at Punta Laguna, part of a government-protected nature preserve called Ma’ax Yetel Kooh, Mayan for “House of the Spider Monkey and the Jaguar.” The author then makes his way to Cobá, home to a sacred Mayan site estimated to be over 2,000 years old.
There is nothing depicted in the issue, from Los Cabos to Mazatlán, that I have yet seen. It was a reminder of what a neophyte I am about this land. Other articles describe the nutty flavors of mole in Querétaro, rafting among the tropical fruit groves in Jalomulco, and Monterrey’s towering orange slab called the Faro del Comercio (not that I want to visit it in particular, but now at least I know of it). Colonial villages of the central highlands were explored: Aguascalientes, Morelia and León.
I’d wager that most readers learned something new from this issue of Latitudes, since most travel magazines focus on what cocktail to sip while you’re poolside, waiting for your appointment in the spa. I’m still learning how well Mexico suits the intrepid and curious traveler, and I’m happy that a luxury magazine took a more cerebral approach to its coverage.
When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was “The Love Boat,” for its escapist fun. I can’t say the show holds up very well in retrospect, and worse, it poisoned me for years by feeding me images of what Mexico was like: insipid port towns hawking cheesy merchandise. In fact, I can’t remember any TV or movie scene from that time that didn’t depict Mexico as a place for outlaws, thieves, drunks and other dubious figures preying on tourists.
It’s sad that so many of us will review Latitudes with not just delight, but surprise. It’s our own failing for not knowing about them before. The rivers, the churches, the mole were there all along.