I'm headed to Mexico in September. Never been before, but natually will be packing a few cameras (and more than a few rolls of film).
Our plan is to start in Mexico City but spend most of the time in the central highlands area, specifically Puebla, Taxco and Cuetzalan among a few others.
Any hints to offer, places to see, benefits of wisdom gained? many thanks!
It's been forever since I was there, but Taxco was a beautiful, well-preserved colonial era silver mining town. I don't know how much if any mining still goes on in the area, but there should still be plenty of silver shops that cater to tourists. Read the State Department bulletins on their website about the security situation in Mexico - there were several mass graves found near Taxco containing several years worth of fallout from the drug wars, which had been previously considered to be largely confined to the border states with the US.
Mexico City is big, noisy and heavily polluted because it is trapped in a high altitude basin that traps the smog. Nonetheless, the Anthropology museum is absolutely a must-see, world-class museum. Plenty of art on display throughout the city - poke around on the New York Times' website travel section for suggestions of galleries and other museums. You will see great luxury alongside poverty to rival some of the worst in the world - I remember places that could compete with Cambodia.
Ok i have to chime in. Great that you are coming to mexico. I am sure you'll have a great time.
Mexico is without a doubt a poor country. But compaing to Cambodia is far fetched. I live in Mexico, lived in puebla as well.
Ok, enough with that. I think that the ny times is a good resource. You should try to get to the pyramids near Mexico city.
In Puebla you should also try to spend some time in cholula. Great place, many contrast, pyramid, religion, etc.
Now, my favorite almost secret place close to cholula is tonananzintla. It has one of the most unique and beautiful interiors, a prime example of Mexican barroque.
Originally Posted by Colin Corneau
I'm sure things have changed since I was there- it was around 1989, but I do remember distinctly the extreme contrasts. It's not that all Mexico is like that - I just have some very strong mental images of kids on the side of the road wearing little more than rags, covered in dust, trying to sell things to tourists on the way to Taxco, and certain parts of Mexico City where the sidewalks were crumbling into sand and the power didn't work all day. In contrast was the Olympic Stadium and the University campus, the Anthropology museum, and the business district full of glass and chrome. I in no way meant to disparage Mexico, I just wanted to prepare the original poster for seeing things he might not be used to in Canada.
Loved, loved, loved Mexico City! There are endless beautiful sites to see just from walking the streets. Bellas Artes is a must and Chapultepec Park. Architecture is amazing. Public transportation is super convenient and goes everywhere. I don't know how anyone can go there and not see the beauty of it. There are markets all around the Palacio de Bellas Artes and night life all around the Zocalo. Take the walk or train up to the top of Chapultepec park to the castle.
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There is something to photograph anywhere. My comments are related to security, based on a personal experience.
My ex, a photojournalist for Getty at the time, was kidnapped there by getting into the wrong taxi cab right in front of her hotel. She spaced out while making a business call, and forgot that the hotel had specifically told her to have the front desk call her a cab, not to get into any random one off the street. We re not talking about a ditz here; she is a very self-reliant, intelligent, and street-wise woman. She just had a brain fart due to distraction, and it cost her. Within an hour and a half, Getty had paid a ransom equal to my yearly gross salary to get her released. Don't go around looking like you have money, with fifteen expensive cameras around your neck, or looking lie you are not paying attention (i.e. talking on a cell phone). Wear plain clothes and don't carry much cash. Go out in groups if you can. Avoid shoulder bags and wallets (money clips held in a front pants pocket are great), and be mindful of your backpacks even when they are right on your back. And have your hotel call your cab for you.
It is also beautiful and intriguing, and the people are terrifically friendly in general, and just because it can be dangerous, does not mean you should think of everyone as a criminal. Don't let fear ruin it for you. Just use more "uncommon sense" than you might normally use.
Oh, and I would suggest learning some Spanish. It is an easy language in the grand scheme of things. It is fairly general in nature; there is not a ton of vocabulary. You can say a lot using very little, in other words. Verbs and tenses are always a bitch, in pretty much any language. But you can get yourself through a conversation without actually knowing that much. You won't be able to learn perfect conjugation without being immersed in the language for some time, but at least learn some common infinitives. At the very least, take some time to learn proper pronunciation. There is pretty much only one way to pronounce each letter, so incorrect pronunciation is pretty easy to avoid, and something that simple will help you more than you might think.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
Thanks, all...the language tip is a good one, if to just show common courtesy and respect. I did that for my trips to China and while I wasn't fluent I could make a few phrases well understood.
My companion is enrolled in a Spanish course so she'll be the go-to for language, methinks! But I'll learn at least a few common phrases too.
Excellent tip on the cabs - an entirely believable story.
Hear! Hear! Watch your back at all times. Don't let people crowd or box you in. Have fun.
I was surprised at how few people in Mexico City spoke any English. The more Spanish you have the better off you'll be. Learn as many numbers as possible so you understand prices. The Condesa area in Mexico City was very pleasant. Definitely take the bus to visit the Teotihuacan pyramids about one hour north of the city. Amazing place.
Any hints on bags or how to carry gear? I'll be travelling light -- 2 bodies (likely either an XPan or an M6 with a Hassy & 1 lens).
I certainly don't want anything that says camera bag; I have a Domke waxwear shoulder satchel type bag...any hints on this topic is appreciated