It is hard to encapsulate and create an image of the beauty of Mexico without visiting – but I’m going to try anyway…
Mexico’s diversity is something I have been absolutely blown away by; although not difficult when you consider that by area, it is the 13th largest country in the world, and fits a large number of European countries within its boundaries! This gives rise to an astonishingly diverse range of cultures, which vary dramatically between states and regions, with varying music and dance, clothing, language and customs in each community. Given that my workload is not nearly as heavy or demanding as in Manchester, I have been able to really take advantage to travel extensively and far and wide in this amazing country. From cities in which the colonial legacy is obvious such as Puebla and Oaxaca, to small indigenous towns of Chiapas, from vast archaeological sites of previous civilisations, to the vast metropolis of Mexico City, from beautiful beaches of the Pacific Coast in Oaxaca or the Gulf in Veracruz, to dense pine forests inundated by the migration of monarch butterflies in Michoacán, from the mountains and volcanoes surrounding my own home in Cholula, to the waterfalls and Chiapas, Mexico is a country rich in, climatic, environmental and cultural diversity. Naturally, this could not make it more interesting for a Geographer!
All this while also speaking in a different language, learning about the country from some of the kindest and most open people I have ever met, and making the most of being surrounded by a hugely interesting and delicious food culture, even as a vegetariana. Meanwhile, stumbling across amazing elements of tangible culture of music, dance and religious festivals, often when you least expect it, leaves me dazed and amazed. Mexico could not possibly offer more for an inquisitive person interesting in learning about the world.
On International Women’s Day, the 8th March (here, 8M), I was reminded of the amazing new perspectives I have gained into things I already thought I knew about… of course, I was very wrong, and a new context brings completely different things to the fore in both the practice and theory involved in understandings and activism for inequality, particular gender inequality. I have learned more things than I could have imagined from my amazing compañeras whom I am immensely grateful for. In the Mexican and in some ways the Latin American context, feminism and activism is wildly different, which in many ways isn’t surprising, given the highly urgent nature of change here in Mexico.
Highlighted again at the marches last week for IWM/8M, feminicidio (feminicide), the killing of women for being women, is an urgent, scary and horrific phenomenon which is taking women’s lives at an alarming rate. This is not to scare anyone thinking of coming to Mexico; instead I hope it might motivate you to act and understand this sad reality, which as reported by El País in 2017, claimed the lives of 3430 women. Indifference cannot be tolerated in front of a situation like this. This has also led me to understand different angles of feminism, which in turn has enabled me to rethink and develop my dissertation, the research for which I will be carrying out here in Mexico.
If you got to this point, then definitely consider coming to Mexico: whether for a holiday, some longer term travelling, to study abroad or even to work and live – I can tell you you won’t regret it, and you will leave a little bit more in love with the world, and leave a little (or in my case, a big) bit of your heart here in Mexico, un país tan lindo y querido.