Daydreaming of a Summer Escape
Summer really crept up on me here in Nanjing.
One minute I’m complaining about the fact it’s mostly wet and cool, and the next I step outside to find my glasses immediately fogging up and a kind of oven heat waiting for me. The thermometer might say it’s only 33C, but add in the 90% humidity and it’s like I’m wading through a hot bath that smells of even hotter garbage.
China, I love you, but your filthiness is especially evident when things start to cook in your summer heat.
Loved this shady walkway at Xuanwu Lake Park. Zig-zagging its way though sun-dappled clearings and hugging the towering city wall, it was lined with locals lounging on benches, enjoying romantic walks, or singing karaoke. I love the way parks feel here in China. Sure, they can be crowded, but there's a real sense that they're a vital part of Chinese life. Without backyards to relax in, parks like Xuanwu become communal areas for picnics, dates, and more.
I’m not completely without escape. The beers are cheap and cold, my air-con does an admirable job of keeping my tiny apartment at a pleasant temperature, and my upcoming two week trip to Taiwan offers a respite from the smell – if not the heat.
If anything, it’s hotter in Taiwan.
So, while I waste away days binge-watching House and/or nursing a hangover, I’ve turned my imaginings to another travel daydream. This time? Mexico!
Mexico is a country not without its problems, but also not without considerable charms.
Images of its jungle temples, its picturesque beaches, its masked wrestlers, and it’s exquisite food have danced around my subconscious since I was young enough to point to Mexico on a map.
With the heat well and truly on here in China, and good Mexican food almost impossible to find – it’s crossed my mind more than once in the last few weeks.
My travels this year might be keeping me in Asia (with a month in Africa for work), but Central & South America remain very much on my radar for 2017.
Why specifically? Read on.
#5 – Lucha Libre!
I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m an unabashed fan of all things pro-wrestling, even to the point that I went out of my way to see a TNA pay-per-view back in 2012 when I was touring the States.
Hell, I own a fucking luchador mask that I wear whenever I have an excuse (and can bear feeling like a half-blind gimp).
Lucha Libre is the Mexican style of pro-wrestling – full of masked heroes & villains, over the top high-flying, and fans whose passion dwarfs anything that you’ll see in the United States.
#4 – The Natural Beauty
It’s no secret that Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but to only include its beaches would be to sell the large, geologically stunning country short.
Volcanoes, canyons, caves, reefs, and the aforementioned dense forest all come into play to make Mexico every bit as diverse and intriguing as larger countries.
Of particular interest to me are locations like the unique swimming experience of Yucatan’s Cenotes, the desert majesty of Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, and the nigh on unpronouncable (for a gringo like me) Iztaccihuatl-Popocatepetl Zoquiapan National Park with its towering volcanoes.
Mexico’s National Parks might not be as popular as the beaches of Cancun or the ancient Mayan ruins, but they’re definitely something I’m eager to experience for myself.
#3 – The Food
Mexican food is – hands down – my favourite cuisine in the world.
Whether it’s the bombast of Tex-Mex, the enticing fusion of Californian style Mexican, or the real deal in all of its beans and rice glory, Mexican food speaks to me like no other.
For the record, Thai and Korean come in a close second and third respectively.
I’m far from an expert on Mexican cuisine, so I’ve instead found you a link to a guide to the Seven Regions of Mexican cuisine to give you a more complete picture.
#2 – The Beaches
Mexico, like Ibiza in Europe and Bali for Australians, has become synonymous with beachside debauchery as thousands of young, drunk foreigners descend onto picturesque beaches to drink copious amounts of alcohol.
While the rampant hedonism of this kind of thing is what originally drew me to celebrations like the Boryeong Mud Festival in Korea, I’m a bit more mature in my tastes when it comes to beach escapes these days.
I want the white sand and crystal clear water, but I want it mostly to myself. I want to be able to have my sunset swim in peace, enjoy a book and a cocktail without having some idiot’s braying laughter push me to the point of homicide, and retire in the evening without any doof doof to keep me up.
The Riviera Maya region of Mexico, facing the Caribbean, is certainly not off-the-beaten track, but it holds a good deal more appeal for me than places like Cancun. While it’s still modern and developed in a way that appeals to western tourists, the 120km stretch of coast still has a few hidden spots to find that solitude I know I crave.
Riviera Maya vacation rentals range from the luxurious to the backpacker friendly.
#1 – The History
More than the beaches and the food, it’s Mexico’s history that really appeals to me.
I’m not talking about its history as a former Spanish colony or as a modern nation (although both are interesting in their own way), but referring to its Mayan history. There’s something both exotic and frightening about the ruins of places like Chichen Itza and Tikal that puts me in mind of high-adventure and the early roots of fantasy – lost kingdoms, dangerous animals, and a world far removed from the modern.
While this image isn’t easy to see in a rapidly developing world, the ruins themselves still stand as testament to the Mayan culture that once dominated much of the peninsula.
You could do a whole top ten Mexican ruins and still be leaving something worth seeing out, and it’s this fact that makes me so excited to someday see it all for myself.
Standing in the ruins of Angkor Wat or the Stone Fort in Tashgorkan were both emotional and humbling experiences for me, and I’d sorely love to feel that again at the heart of the once great Mayan empire.
Want to Daydream?
Want to read some of my other travel daydreams? You can find them all below, with the ones I’ve since achieved highlighted:
- Travel Daydream: Tenerife
- Travel Daydream: Lakes District, UK
- Travel Daydream: Canada
- Travel Daydream: Egypt
- Travel Daydream: Canary Islands
- Travel Daydream: New Zealand
- Travel Daydream: Australian Roadtrip
- Travel Daydream: Zanzibar
- Travel Daydream: Northern Territory, Australia
- Travel Daydream: Outback Australian Roadtrip
- Travel Daydream: The Great US Road Trip
Is Mexico on your to do list? Why?
If you’ve been before, what did you love (or hate) about your time in Mexico?