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September 16, 2011 / Greg Vaughn

¡Viva Mexico!

Tile mural depicting Father Hidalgo's cry for independence

Tile mural in the town of Dolores Hidalgo depicting Father Hidalgo's cry for independence.

16 de Septiembre is commemorated throughout Mexico with perhaps even greater fervor than the 4th of July in the USA. On this day in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo, the priest of a small town parish, declared Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule.

Mexican flag on balcony in San Miguel de Allende

The Mexican flag hangs on a balcony in San Miguel de Allende

This event generates huge celebrations throughout Mexico, perhaps even more so this year in that Mexicans are celebrating the bicentennial of their independence. Somewhat surprisingly, there has been almost no mention of this in the general American media. Perhaps this is because the same mass media have been busy promoting the sensationalism of the brutal killings by the drug cartels. No question that there has been an incredible amount of violence in parts of Mexico over the past few years, but while the problems are for the most part confined to the northern part of the country near the US border, and in a few isolated areas of the country, most of the American public now thinks that it is unsafe to travel anywhere in Mexico.

Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato and Plaza de la Paz

Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato and Plaza de la Paz in Guanajuato

That is really a shame, because Mexico is a wonderful place to visit, and it is entirely safe to do so in most of the country. As far as I know, there have been no reported problems of drug cartel violence in southern Baja, the Pacific coast region around Puerto Vallarta, the Yucatan Peninsula with its fabulous Mayan ruins, or such popular US and Canadian retiree enclaves as San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato. The latter, incidentally, very close to the little town of Dolores Hidalgo, birthplace of Mexican independence.

Restaurant on the plaza in Ajijic

Restaurant Jardin Plaza in the town of Ajijic on Lake Chapala

A certain young lady and I spent the summer of 1972 traveling around Mexico. As we were preparing for the trip, well-meaning friends warned us of the dangers, of banditos, and told us to be sure and take a gun, or at least a fierce dog. We logged 10,000 miles in an old Ford van, traveling from Nogales down the west coast, crossing the country through Guadalajara and Mexico City to the Gulf, drove south as far as there were roads at that time in Yucatan, crossed back to the Pacific side through San Cristobal de las Casas, and headed north through Oaxaca and then the center of the country to the US border. We camped, we stayed in cheap hotels, we ate in the mercados and from carts on the plazas. Not once during that entire trip did we have any problem with the people of Mexico.

Young girls performing folkoric dance

Folkloric dance in the town of Cosalá, one of Mexico's "Pueblos Magicos".

That young lady and I got married after returning from that trip, we did another extensive road trip in Mexico two years later, and we celebrated our 25th anniversary with a visit to La Paz and Los Cabos in Baja California Sur. Subsequent trips have only reinforced our fondness for Mexico, and we’re very much looking forward to our next visit.

kayaking in the Sea of Cortez

Kayaking the Sea of Cortez at Isla Espiritu Santo near La Paz, Baja California.


Here’s a link for more of my photos of Mexico, viewable as a slide show or gallery. Thanks for looking!


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