Mission Mexico: Exploring My Adopted Home Country in 2018

I’ve been in Mexico for 3 years, and during that time, I’ve traveled internationally MUCH more than domestically.

I’ve only visited 9 Mexican states, and taken 12 or so domestic trips TOTAL.

Yet during that same period of time, I’ve visited Israel twice, the United States four times, and 16 new countries (Panama, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Belize, Peru, Cuba, Ireland, Northern Ireland/UK, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden).

Um, yeah.

What was I thinking?

I’ve spent so much money and so. many. hours. on planes (and always coach, always low-cost when possible, meaning uncomfortable AF), waiting in airports (thank god for that priority pass), taking Ubers, taking buses, and why?

I know most people think of Mexico as Cancun: Beaches. Parties. Tequila. Tacos. And sure, you can get all that (and for cheap).

But at the same time, I live here: I KNOW BETTER. I know there is SO MUCH MORE to Mexico.

I KNOW that Mexico is seemingly impossibly, almost ridiculously culturally, geographically, culinarily, climactically diverse. I KNOW I could experience almost anything I’m looking for internationally within the very borders of my adopted home country.

And yet, I wandered around Europe, popped into the Caribbean, spent months in Central and South America, the US, and even a bit of Asia (I’ll excuse that, as I was getting married, but then again I COULD HAVE DONE IT IN MEXICO with a thousand times less stress)… why?

Why go to Europe – for the food and the pretty buildings?

Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City

Just an hour from me, there’s a city famous for its Italian heritage, including cheese and pizza. And Colonia Roma and Condesa, smack dab in Mexico City, look like they’ve been lifted from Europe themselves… not to mention the historic center of Mexico City, with this stunner of a cathedral. Europe what?

Why go to South America – for the wine and ruins?

Wine Tasting in Cafayate Argentina
(this is the only photo in this entire post not from Mexico. I need to get to Baja, STAT)

Baja makes some pretty damn good AND inexpensive wine (I should know, we buy cases of it every time we hit up Costco), and it’s also near some gorg beaches (and WHALES!)

As far as ruins, for goodness sake, I live right outside Cholula, which is the oldest still-inhabited city in the ENTIRE Americas, complete with its own set of pretty well-preserved ruins (and a pyramid you can actually climb). Teotihuacan is a few hours drive away, and have you heard of Chichen Itza? What about Palenque?

Why go to Central America – for adventure activities?

Kolem Chen Cave, Tabasco, Mexico

Just a flight away, using Tuxtla Gutierrez or Villahermosa as homebases, I can be in Mexico’s center of adrenaline. Rappelling, caving, flying (yes, seriously), hiking, bouldering, getting down on some via ferrata (or should I say up?), and probably a bunch of things that I’d sooner crap my pants than try.

Why go to Panama or other biodiversity hotspots – for cool animal sightings?

Africam Safari Puebla Mexico

Mexico has jaguars. Enough said?

Maybe not. There are over 1500 species of animals (the good stuff: amphibians, reptiles, mammals… though birds are okay too) in protected areas ALONE chilling, hanging out all protected and natural, for respectful animal-lovers like you to do some sighting. In the Sian Ka’an biosphere, you can see all the cool cats: pumas, ocelots, and jaguars. Along with monkeys, tapirs, deer, and boars.

What else: a ridiculous number of whales (supposedly the best place in the world for whale watching), a ginormous butterfly migration, a firefly forest (how trippy).

And just a little ol’ drive from my humble abode, you can check out animals from all over the world in a free-range “Safari“, like an un-zoo for people who are a bit ambivalent about zoos (including myself), who think they do important stuff (including breeding and education and preservation and research) but aren’t sure about the ethics of keeping wild animals behind bars.

Why go to the Caribbean – for beaches?

Hotel Bucaneros Isla Mujeres

And don’t even get me started on beaches. Whether I’m after a walkable, gorgeous, Koh Phi Phi, tourist-y vibe (Isla Mujeres), hipster central (Tulum), surfing (Puerto Escondido), bargain barrel prices on stuff-your-face get-wasted all-inclusives (Puerto Vallarta), or sooooo much more: Mexico is the beach place of your dreams, for half the price of anywhere else. This country has got almost TEN THOUSAND kilometers of coastline: Pacific, Caribbean, Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico. Guaranteed someplace around that nearly 10k of coast has the exact vibe (and price point) you’re after.

So. [I’m embarassed]

I don’t know what’s been blocking me these past few years. Maybe there’s an innate aversion to exploring where you live, a desire to see something new (although not making sense because we’ve just discussed how very effing diverse Mexico is, there’s always something new to see!! like one of the 20+ states I haven’t made it to), and let’s be honest: maybe a desire to check some new countries off that huge and looming list of all-the-countries-in-the-world.

Let’s get down to it.

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca

I’m making 2018 my year of Mexico.

And you can hold me accountable. You’ll be able to stay updated (on a soon-to-be-created post) on where and when I’m visiting, and afterward, how the visit went. If you’re passionate about one of the Mexican states, shoot me an email or comment! Tell me what’s cool, what I shouldn’t miss, and where I find the best damn vegetarian food (or someone who would be into making me something sans-chicken broth, no-lard, and minus meat).

My number one resolution for 2018: SEE MORE OF MEXICO!

Maybe yours should be, too!

Especially if you’re an American (and by that I mean, live ANYWHERE in the Americas), Mexico is likely just a flight away for you.

I want to reiterate how inexpensive it is for tourists (especially compared to other trending vaca spots), incredibly safe (don’t believe what you see on the news: Mexico cares for and looks out for its visitors, both for financial reasons as the tourism industry is huge and because these are damn good people here), and so easy to get around (Mexico is going to spoil you re: buses and you’ll never be able to take a Greyhound again, this shit is COMFY).

I’ve got my first new-state trip next week!

Where would YOU like to go in Mexico?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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  1. Cynthia Gentry
    May 8, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    This post was awesome! I am thinking of doing the traditional backpacking route from Mexico City to Cancun (or vice versa) so I can’t wait to see all the things you do.

    • Steph
      May 9, 2018 / 11:02 am

      Thanks! I hope you have a blast! 🙂

  2. br
    September 1, 2018 / 7:20 am

    leave for MC tomorrow !!! 09/02/2018 also going to Puebla and surrounding towns to find out if retirement in Peubla is for us . Already got the travel “warnings” from a few people but hey i’m from Brooklyn my head has been on a swivel for my entire life i have no worries because the way to not get into trouble is avoid people ,places and things that will put you in harms way.

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