Exploring Southern Mexico and Thinking About the Big Picture

Wondering while wandering...

By: Tim Foley
July 28, 2016

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Do you think that any single cell in our bodies has the vaguest notion of what it is that they're a part of? The same can probably be said of us. 

Pyramid o the sun
It's all about sacrifice

We've spent the last few weeks exploring the central highlands of Southern Mexico. Had a few days in the big city of Guadalajara. Which has A LOT of energy and enough culture to allow us to drink our beers with our pinkies extended. But it was way too much of a loud, writhing, questing sea of humanity for my taste.

We moved on to Guanajuato. In my opinion the first of the truly european feeling Mexican cities that we've encountered.

Guanajuato

And then we ran into San Miguel de Allende. If today I had to pick a place to HQ... this would be it. We found it's vibe, it's architecture, it's climate, and it's food to be most definitely to our liking. We even went to a "night with the artists" as the guests of some very cool local artists that we met...and we ran into the same pretentious assholes that populate the art scene everywhere. Yep, San Miguel's got it all.


Our experience at the art show reminded me of some amazing research that's being conducted by a professor at Cal Berkley named Paul Piff (you can check it out here). His theory is that having more money than we need makes us mean. He's well on his way to proving it... but my thought was: If money can make an individual less empathetic, imagine what it can do to a culture.

Which brings us around to the United States and two questions that I get asked here almost daily, once they've realized that we're Americans... not Canadians (they just assume you're Canadian if you speak english because Americans are apparently too afraid to travel in Mexico now... so much for the "home of the brave"). Anyway, the questions are.. "What's up with you guys and guns?" And... "Is Donald Trump really a presidential candidate?" What can I say? Maybe it's because I'm getting a little long in the tooth but it sure seems like the politics in America is incredibly out of step with the folks who live there.

  

And then it was on to Teotihuacan. Which is a place that just kind of slowly blows your mind. First, it's massive. Second, no one knows who built it. And third, no one know wht the hell happened to 'em. But one feeling you get for sure. The people who lived here thought that they were it. A number one... top of the list... king of the hill. This was the Manhattan of Central America and if you could make it here... you could make it anywhere. And then they were gone and no one knows exactly why. Although sociologist Jared Diamond owns the most popular theory. Climate change, rapid deforestation, wealth and opportunity becoming concentrated in too few hands. And then there was some unhappiness, violence, more than a little killing (mostly of those too few hands), and then the party ended and everyone left. Are you hearing that America?

By the way if you find yourself in San Juan Teotihuacan we recommend an incredible savory empanada shop that's just across the street on the east side of the main plaza. They have several very delicious flavors and all five of us ate there to our incredible gluttonous content, for less than 200 pesos (about $12 US).

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.