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Such early history powerhouses as the Olmec, Toltec, Maya and Aztec empires rose and fell in Mexico before the conquering of the region by Spain in 1521. The area was ruled as New Spain until its independence in 1821. But independence didn’t bring only more liberty, it brought a seemingly endless civil war and the emergence of regional warlord bandits. During this time Mexico lost nearly half of its land to the USA in the Mexican-American War of 1846. By 1910 the people were tired of instability and the Mexican Revolution resulted in the creation of a solid government.

Mexico Flag | ATC

Transportation in Mexico:

Transportation in Mexico far exceeds the networks of other Latin American countries as it boasts the most roads, the largest airport and a vast rail network. Nevertheless economic problems mean that the roads are often in disarray, and the rail network, though large, is still insufficient to meet the country’s transportation needs. In terms of tourism, any manner of transportation can be found to meet your needs, though timetables may be hard to find. Buses are the bets options for tourists, and are the locals most trusted means of transport.

Mexico Regional Map | ATC

Money in Mexico:

Costs in Mexico are cheap compared to Europe and the USA, but can still be surprising for any budget traveler or hostel mouse. Expect to spend roughly $30 USD a day including food and accommodation, and add in a bit more for transportation and you’ll have an idea of travel costs in country. Food and clothing are cheap while transportation and lodging can run a bit high, depending on your location.

Exchange rate = 1 USD to MXN= 15.4 (2015)

Progreso | ATC

Mexican Food in Mexico:

Perhaps I am biased, having always loved Mexican cuisine, but I still think that Mexican food is some of the most creative, inspired and delicious on the planet. Meat dishes might be a bit scarce, but protein in beans is easily comparable and, in Mexico, plentiful. Street food is usually safe to eat and a tasty way to snack throughout the day. Sugar-burnt nuts are a specialty, as are ice-cream trucks serving sugar ice and other treats. Mexican drinks are also unique and go above and beyond the creativity of other regions with the likes of the Margarita and lime-infused beers. Cinnamon is common on dessert dishes, and churos are a great after-dinner dessert found at most restaurants.

Interaction with residents: Medium

While many Americans speak Spanish, I am not so fortunate, thus my interactions with folks in Mexico are limited to people who speak English or mime really well. Luckily, the Mexican people are incredibly friendly and good-natured, and their patience with said gringo extreme. With a bit of work on my now non-existent Spanish, I’m hoping future encounters in Mexico will be more fruitful. In border towns you can expect interaction to be limited to buying and selling, but further inland you’ll find a helpful populous eager to chat.

Suggestions for Traveling in Mexico:

Carrying excesses of money or electronics on you while traveling is an armature move by any standard so don’t do so in Mexico for obvious reasons. While there are a lot of concerns about safety in Mexico, most are unwarranted if you are a smart traveler. Plan ahead, get solid information from several sources before moving to your next destination, and above all make sure you have your tourist card to avoid any “fines” in more remote areas. If you find yourself in an unsafe area, stay alert and move out quickly and quietly without drawing attention.

Mexico | ATC

Recommendation level: 8

Mexico has always been a place I’ve longed to visit because of the beautiful music, amazing food, vibrant colors and open culture. As far as traveling goes, Mexico is a place that is hard to be disappointed by. The people are friendly, everything a traveler wants exists in at least some economic bracket, and people have such a jovial sense of humor that nearly all interaction ends happily. Safety concerns remain an issue, as does food safety, but those same concerns exist in most places we travel and our stomachs have been hardened.

Visas for Mexico:

Americans, Canadians, EU members, Australia and many other countries do not need visas to visit Mexico if the duration is under 180 days. Instead, the government makes a bit of money on tourism by having toll bridges to the USA and with small fees at airports. Instead of a visa, a tourist card is preferred. Make sure you ask for one of these when you enter the country because any police officer can stop you and ask for this document and fine you if you don’t have it. Check with the Mexican embassy in your region or check out the links to the left for a start.

Our Route in Mexico:

We have been to Progresso and Matamoros, on the US border, and hope to make several more forays into the country in the coming weeks.