This past winter, I visited Mexico for the fifth time and spent nine weeks there. Mexico is an excellent destination to while away the northern hemisphere’s colder months.

For those who are not clear about where Mexico is located, it’s the United States’ other neighbour. To the south. 🙂

Like Ecuador, it’s also a very popular retirement destination for North Americans. Although I didn’t intend to scout any town for retirement on this trip, I did end up spending six weeks in Oaxaca after quick visits to Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Valladolid, Merida, and Campeche.

Here are ten things I learned in Mexico:

  1. Rules of the road are simply suggestions.
  2. A meal is not complete without tortillas. (They even go in your soup!)
  3. Any occasion is good for firecrackers.
  4. Sunday is not the best day to get things done. (Most businesses are closed.)
  5. Being “open tonight” may mean they close at 8 p.m.
  6. You will not suffer from information overload
  7. The State of Quintana Roo is considered (and feels like) “The Caribbean”, not Mexico
  8. Mezcal and tequila are two different things
  9. Pre-hispanic civilizations used to breed dogs for food.
  10. Silence is not gold.

Have I made you curious about Mexico?

Mexico is a pretty big country with different climates, cultural groups, and activities. Whether you like beaches, mountains, colonial towns, food, music, traditional dance, or tequila, you’ll find something of interest. Your vacation can be as relaxed or active as you’d like.

Despite the fact that you can’t drink the tap water or flush toilet paper, the infrastructure in most parts is good and the buses excellent. Trying to go from the mountains to the coast means a lot of twisty roads though. And it can get very dry during the winter.

And who hasn’t heard of Mexican food? Since it’s a cuisine that isn’t widespread throughout the world, here’s your chance to get your fill, then wash it all down with a good margarita or local beer.

You will actually find different food specialties, as well as handicrafts, in the different regions. It’s a country where you can return many times and still feel like you haven’t seen it all.

Who should visit Mexico?

I think everybody should go! Solo women won’t have any problems. Mexico has something for everyone: beaches, colonial towns, indigenous villages, handicrafts, pre-Hispanic archeological sites (think Maya, Aztec, Zapotec among others), food, and of course the Spanish language.

The people are friendly and helpful, and generally smiling. Many speak a little English but speaking some Spanish will go a long way (except in Quintana Roo, where it doesn’t seem to matter).

As a bonus, if you’re coming from North America, you won’t suffer from jetlag.

Best time to visit

November to March is the dryer and cooler time of year, although it is always hot along the coasts. April and May are very hot and dry before the rains come in June and remain until October (although it doesn’t rain all day). The Yucatan can get rain even in winter.

So, would I retire in Mexico? Well, Oaxaca is still on my list of contenders, but I don’t think I would want to spend more than three or four months at a time there.

Have you been to Mexico? And if not, what else would you like to know about travelling there?

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