Tequila, sombreros, ponchos, burritos, illegal immigrants..? What, with Donald Trump’s recent anti-Mexican rhetoric and his insistence on building a wall, it’s hard not to think about Mexico without being confronted by so many stereotypes. This, though, is a great shame as it is a country which boasts an incredible wealth of culture that has to be experienced first-hand to be believed. A trip to Chichén Itzá, in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula of southeast Mexico, is guaranteed to astound anyone who visits as they will come face-to-face with an ancient civilisation of unparalleled scientific sophistication. The Mayans possessed a knowledge of astronomy that was incredibly advanced for their time. They knew how to predict solar eclipses and used astrological cycles to aid in planting and harvesting. In fact, they developed two calendars that are as precise as those we use today. Their astonishing feats can be seen in the construction of the pyramid at Chichén Itzá, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, which is situated according to the sun’s location during the spring and autumn equinoxes. At sunset on these two days, the pyramid casts a shadow on itself which aligns with a carving of the head of the Mayan serpent god. As well as these impressive feats of man, the natural geographic landscape does not disappoint and delivers a feast for the senses and offers stunning views.
A trip to Mexico would not be complete without visiting one of the many cenotes. A cenote occurs when a limestone bedrock is naturally eroded and thus exposes groundwater underneath. Ik Kil in Yucatan offers a great opportunity to gain some respite from the tropical heat and take in a secret world of crystal-clear natural swimming pools hidden away in the depths of the jungle. When visiting one for yourself you can see why they were revered by the Mayans and were considered to be a portal for communication with the gods. The picture book sandy beaches of the Riviera Maya are also a must for any visitor, being able to witness an awe-inspiring Caribbean sunset as the waves lap at your feet is an opportunity one should take full advantage of. Talking about bucket list possibilities, you can also hire snorkelling equipment and go swimming with turtles. Getting up close to these majestic creatures serves as a powerful reminder of the natural beauty that exists in this world.
Of course no trip to Mexico would be complete without sampling the finest tequilas. A visit to one of the many tequila bars in Playa del Carmen allows you to appreciate how this drink has become a universal favourite and the ultimate party-starter. It is hard to sum up just how worthwhile visiting Mexico is in just a few hundred words but I could not recommend it enough. Get yourself on that plane and prepare for the trip of a lifetime.