Quarantine Dreams: Mexico Bucket-list

There are 32 states in Mexico. As I sit here, stuck inside my apartment on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon due to the circumstances the world finds itself in, I was thinking about which states I next want to travel to while I’m still living here. So far, I’ve been 9 of Mexico’s 32 states: Baja California Sur, Ciudad de México (yes, Mexico City is considered a state), Coahuila, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Nayarit, Nuevo León (where I live), Quintana Roo and Tamaulipas. 

Here’s my bucket list of the top 5 states I want to visit in Mexico after this pandemic ends and travel (at least domestic) is once again an option.

5. Chihuahua

Chihuahua is the largest state in Mexico and is actually bigger than the U.K. It was the eleventh most dangerous state to travel in Mexico in 2019 based on an International SOS report. That’s likely because it shares a border with the middle of the U.S, and all border states are cartel hotbeds.  If you’ve ever seen the film Sicario that takes place in Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, then you can get the picture of how dangerous border cities can be.

Its landscape is dominated by deserts, forests and mountains, including the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range which is an extension of the Rocky Mountains. In the mountains, it has a canyon system called Copper Canyon that I would love to see, as it’s deeper and bigger than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. To get there, it’s easiest to fly to Chihuahua City and take a train through to the canyon. It’s suggested to exercise caution in the area when you’re passing though, but I think that’s needless to say when you’re travelling through a foreign country with security issues, especially a border state.

4. San Luis Potosí 

This is the closest state to me, just a state below Nuevo Leon. Potosí means fortune, and it was added to the name because the Spanish discovered a lot of gold and silver there.

The historic centre of the city (of the same name) looks worth checking out, with a cathedral dating back to the 17th century, and a couple of museums on science & art, and masks & costumes. It seems like a nice place to explore a mix of culture and natural beauty.

The Tampaon river in Huasteca Potisina looks like the perfect to do a little river rafting, and check out the 105-meter tall Tamul Waterfall.

Xtilitla has a Pueblo Magico (magical town) that I’ve seen a ton of photographs of but never known anything about. It’s probably best known for the Las Pozas garden, created by English artist Edward James. It’s an area well known for producing coffee, which I’d love to try out firsthand.

3. Yucatan

Yucatan is home to Chichen Itza, which was one of the greatest cities in the Mayan civilization. For that reason, it’s a huge tourist attraction (also one of the new 7 wonders of the world), though you can find other pyramids and ruins all over the state that are also impressive and are known to be less crowded. 

Yucatan’s coastline makes up part of the second biggest reef barrier in the world, so it’s world renowned for its swimming and snorkeling. You can also thank the asteroid that killed Earth’s dinosaurs 66 million years ago for the cenote network all around the Yucatan Peninsula. I’ve swam in one in Quintana Roo but would like to try a few out in Yucatan. 

In Yucatan, I’d love to explore some cenotes (Ik Kil and Suytun being two of them); visit some Mayan ruins; and check out Laguna Rosada (pink salt flats). There are some ruins nearby Laguna Rosa called Xcambo. The Mayans used the salt from the flats to preserve fish for export. That would be worth checking out too.

2. Oaxaca

I love the smoky flavor of Mezcal and this is the home of it. It’s actually Tequila that is a type of Mezcal, and not the other way around. Tequila can only be made from Blue Agave, whereas Mezcal can be made from over a hundred different types of Agave.

Oaxaca sits in the South of Mexico, along the Pacific Ocean. Being so far South, it’s home to a lot of indegenous people (32% of all inigenous people in Mexico) and their cultures. In Oaxaca I’d love to visit Monte Albán, one of the better preserved pre-hispanic cities in Mexico. It’s about 10km away from the state’s capital of Oaxaca City, which has an airport reachable from other major cities in the country.

Quite a bit further away (69 km) from Oaxaca City is Hierve el Agua, which are the only petrified waterfalls in Mexico. You get a great view of the mountains and the valley, all with the added bonus of chilling in the natural pool.

I’ve wanted to spend a couple of nights in the beach town of Puerto Escondido too. 

1. Chiapas

Chiapas is the state that’s been on the top of my list since I first started living in Mexico. It is the southernmost state in Mexico and shares a border with Guatemala. Unfortunately it’s a pretty neglected state as far as infrastructure goes. I’ve heard it has poor roads, a lack of access to drinking water and poor sanitation.

It’s largest appeal for tourism is its Mayan cities and the Lacandon Jungle, which stretches from Chiapas over to Yucatan and all the way down to Honduras. Like Oaxaca, Chiapas has a large indigenous population (36% of its population). 

 The top things I’d like to see in Chiapas are the: Agua Azul Waterfalls, which are famous for their turquoise color; Sumidero Canyon, which began to form around the same time as the Grand Canyon did in Arizona; and Zona Arqueológica Palenque, which was a Mayan city-state dating back to the 7th century. 

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