Skip The Beach, Visit The Real Mexico

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I know that for most people, Mexico this time of year means beaches, beer funnels, lounge chairs, diving excursions, 600-thread count sheets, sunny weather, and nights slept on the floor of dingy jail cells while being protected by someone named “Big Hector” who for some reason has taken an interest in your well-being (okay, that last one may only apply to me).

But as anyone who has visited beyond the confines of gringo territory knows, outside there is a vast country rich in cultural heritage, unique regions and local food offerings that will put your favorite corner Tex-Mex restaurant to shame. To help you discover some options for areas to visit in Mexico that have nothing to do with Señor Frog’s, the Toronto Star takes a look at a couple of areas you can visit and which are easily accessible from that “other Mexico.”


A visit to Merida, Yucatan — a city of a million people and only a half-day drive from Cancun — offers open-air theater performances at the University of Yucatan; La Casa de las Artesania, home to a wide variety of indigenous art; and the ruins of Chichen Itza an hour-and-a-half southeast where you can explore Mayan-era temples and pyramids. There are also a number of sleepy beach towns nearby that are away from all the tourists and where you can work in some R&R from all that culture.


The southern state of Oaxaca — long a mecca for food lovers — is home to Benito Juarez market, which offers a wide variety of local fare, as well as close access to La Soledad chocolate shop where you can sample what chocolate mole tastes like (try getting that in Cozumel). There are also plenty of restaurants, including El Asador Vasco and La Casa de la Abuela, both great options for trying out mole, Oaxaca’s unofficial signature sauce.

It may not be the Spring Break you’re used to, but it’s guaranteed to leave you with much better memories (and likely a cleaner arrest record).

[Calles de Oaxaca by Hector Garcia/Flickr]

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