Inspire

5 Of The Greatest Things About Mexico

Fresh fruits, natural swimming holes and the colours – my god, the colours.

It’s Cinco De Mayo, a day that commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French invaders in 1862. While the holiday has been largely co-opted and turned into a drinking holiday by the US, it’s still a worthwhile time to reflect on all that’s great about this hugely varied North American country. Here are five of our favourite things.

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Cenotes

There are swimming holes, and then there are these. Mexican cenotes (pronounced se-NO-tays) are hidden underwater worlds; natural sinkholes full of filtered clear freshwater that dot Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the east. The aquatic playgrounds are surrounded by lush flora and are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Around Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, you’ll find at least six of these great things; try Cenote Dos Ojos or Cenote Azul.

Photo: Vicente Villamón/Flickr

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Ruins

These aren’t just old piles of bricks; the many ruins of Mexico tell detailed stories of the mighty civilisations that ruled before European contact, including the Mayans and the Aztecs. Most major cities have ruins nearby, but the best ones are the largely-restored and massive Teotihuacan ruins, 50 kilometres from Mexico City, and the lush ruins of Palenque that seem to grow up out of the jungle in the state of Chiapas. If you like your history lesson with a side of swimming, the beachside ruins in the hip town of Tulum might be more up your alley.

Palenque. Photo: Taryn Stenvei

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Limes, and other fruit

You know how in Australia we expect to pay between $2-3AUD for a single lime, only to sometimes have it produce no more than five drops of juice? In Mexico, that’s not a thing. These tiny green balls of citrus delight are plentiful, plump and cheap as hell. You’ll pass crates full of them, and they garnish everything from tacos, to cervezas (beers), to all other varieties of tropical fruit (which is also always fresh and cheap). You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a mango on a stick covered in lime juice, salt and chilli powder.

Photo: Taryn Stenvei

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Micheladas

Love Bloody Marys? Love beer? Then let me introduce you to your new favourite refreshment. Micheladas are made with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and chilli peppers. Throw in some clamato (reconstituted tomato juice concentrate and clam broth) and salt the rim of the glass and you have a one-way ticket to flavour town. Micheladas are tart, salty, sweet and savoury all at once, and they taste a thousand times better under the Mexican sun.

Photo: Taryn Stenvei

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The colours

In my memory, nothing in Mexico is dull. Everywhere you look there’s pink bougainvillea, turquoise waters, pastel houses, deep rose sunsets, green ferns lining a jungle floor and colourful papel picado flags crisscrossing overhead. Whether you’re in a city, the desert, the jungle or by the ocean, everything in Mexico is bold and bright and never – not ever – boring.

Photo: Sonia Taylor

(Lead image: Graeme Churchard/Flickr)