Mexico is the 2018 Place of the Year, and we are celebrating its win. To get to know Mexico better, we asked our friends at OUP Mexico what they love most about their country. From fresh guacamole to the warmth of the people, their responses bring Mexico to life.
Mexico means war-hearted people. It’s a great country, full of colours and traditions like “Día de Muertos,” when shrines are built in homes and graveyards to honour relatives and friends who have passed away. We cannot forget “posadas,” held in the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve, and its colourful “piñatas.”
Mexico also has many magic towns like Guanajuato with colonial architecture, Teotihuacan and its amazing pyramids full of history, and Puebla and the delicious mole poblano.
Mexico, a place where you can find joy, love, and happiness. That is why I love my country!
Luis Miguel González
If I could sum up what Mexico is in just one word, I would have to choose FAMILY.
Mexico, just like a family, is a microcosm of emotions and feelings, of smells and flavors, sights and wonders.
Our country is a place where sometimes you’ll encounter chaos, but also a place where the word peace finds its meaning.
Mexico, like our family, is where the heart always returns. We return to its millenary traditions mixed with 21st century life style, to its vast variety of heartwarming food and drinks, to its beautiful, narrow cobblestone streets and old churches, and to its hectic and feverish cities. We return to the white sand beaches and to the mountains and volcanoes, to the rivers and the deserts, to the warmth of a coal-stove kitchen, to the melody of a mariachi-played song, to the loudness of a soccer match, and to the quiet mayhem of our graveyards in Dia de Muertos.
But where everything comes together is in the heart and soul of the Mexican people. We are unique. We know how to smile even in the most difficult of times. We are collaborative and giving. We love like no one else does. If you’re accepted and welcomed, you become part of our families. We can party (and do it in style!), but we’re also as hardworking as any.
Mexico is like family. We as a country are far from perfect. We have many issues to tackle, but we wouldn’t change our country for the world. To me, Mexico is the greatest place on earth.
For me, Mexico is a beautiful place of contrast and complexity. As a foreigner in Mexico, I was welcomed and included. I found friends with heart and with passion, openness, and acceptance. I will always carry with me the sights, the smells, the flavours, the atmosphere, and especially the food. My favourite place had all the elements of superb fine dining: plastic chairs, paper plates, and no booking system. But you sit in a valley with views of the mountain, the smell of arrachera on the barbeque, the bustle of families around you, and queso fundido con chorizo on the table in front of you. I will have Fiesta Tacos on speed dial for my last meal.
My favorite place is the land where my parents were born, San Juan Chilateca, Oax. Here, there is my whole family, and from there, many have left to try their fortune in several places of the country and abroad.
The best time to visit is in July for their patronal feast. Second best is in December, when everyone comes together, and we have inns where there is wind music, piñatas, tamales, dance, and the walk of trees on December 24. When you come, try the tlayuda.
During my time working in Mexico City (not with OUP, but in a previous role), I found my time marked by exactly the sentiments above: beautiful, sympathetic, and caring people with all the time in the world to help a colleague or a stranger.
Hugging and kissing colleagues in the lifts on the way into the office in the morning and on the way out in the evening. The amazing warmth of all greetings and the genuine interest when someone asked how you were today. My colleagues back in the London office always knew when I had just come back from Mexico as it took a few days to decompress and return to “British” norms.
Mexico City was vibrant and exciting and the family activities in the parks at weekends showcased how absolutely important family ties are to the Mexican people.
We may say many things about Mexico. We could talk about its beautiful beaches in the Mexican Caribbean or the Pacific Coast. We could talk about its wonderful traditions such as “Day of the Dead” or the nine parties before Christmas called “posadas.” We could talk about the historical sites at Teotihuacan or Chichen Itza or about enjoying the cold feel of the shiny silver from Taxco and Zacatecas. But there is one thing I really enjoy because it can be shared with the world: food. As a matter of fact, UNESCO has appointed traditional Mexican cuisine an Intangible Cultural Heritage for the world.
I would like to share with you a very simple recipe (which was not easy to find as our gastronomy or Mexican cuisine is not simple at all). We must keep in mind that 3 out of the following 6 ingredients have been a gift from Mexico to the world (*). It is our traditional GUACAMOLE.
The word guacamole comes from the Nahuatl voice ahuacatl (avocado) and molli (mixture). According to the legend, Quetzalcoatl, highest god of ancient cultures, offered this recipe to his people, who took it throughout the territory.
– 3 spoonfuls of chopped onion
– 4 serrano hot peppers (*)
– 2 spoonfuls of chopped coriander.
– 3 large avocados (*)
– 2/3 cup of finally chopped tomato (*)
Blend the onion, peppers, coriander, and salt. Cut the avocados in half and remove the seed, but do not discard it. Use a wooden spoon to remove the pulp and smash it. Mix it with the blended onion mixture. Add the sliced tomatoes and season it. Place the seeds on top of the guacamole to keep it from darkening.
From my kitchen to yours! Enjoy!
What I love about Mexico is their people. We are hardworking and happy, and we see for our family (and when I say family, I do not mean a consanguine family, but a solid bond between people, whether they are relatives or not). Because of this, there’s always a place to stay, a bond to preserve, for you and for everyone in Mexico.
I love Mexico for our traditions. We consider traditions a heritage from our ancestors, and I think all of us feel proud and committed to each of them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a penny in your pockets or if you live in a little, little town in this country; we always look for ways to follow old traditions. My family is from Michoacan, a state full of them! My favourite tradition: Dia de Muertos.
After 15 years in Mexico, the photos below show what I LOVE about living here. This school has shown dedication by creating a great, colorful stage in the photo behind Fifi the Fox. The students demonstrate the love that Mexican people ooze all the time. Inside that suit is the educational consultant, Osiel Fernandez, who cares so much about his job that he goes the extra mile and brings teaching to life and really lives our mission. He is changing lives through education, and he cares deeply about what he is doing.
It makes me so proud to be part of the leadership team, with really great people making a difference every single day.
I would like to share some of the contributions of Mexico has made to the world, mainly in the field of food.
Aguacate / Avocado is native to the highlands of central and eastern Mexico. It is one of the most extraordinary gifts Mexico has brought to the world. Its flavor, texture, and dietary and nutritional properties have made it one of the most favored fruits worldwide.
Ensalada César / Caesar Salad: The iconic salad was invented in 1924 when César Cardini, owner of a restaurant in Tijuana, didn’t have enough food to feed his hungry clients. He used the only remaining ingredients to serve them, and the Caesar salad was born.
Chile / Chili was paramount for the ancient Mexicans. In the cities of Teotihuacán, Tula, and Monte Albán, vestiges of a wide consumption of chile among its inhabitants have been found. And the Aztecs developed a culture of chili, many of whose aspects endure to this day.
Jitomate: Tomato. It is one of the most important contributions of Mexico to the world cuisine.
Vanilla: Mexico gave the world vanilla. Mexican vanilla is still the queen of all vanilla. It is native to the region of Papantla, State of Veracruz.
Maíz / Corn: Its cultivation began seven thousand years ago. It has been the basis of our diet for thousands of years. The corn appeared on the earth, privileged in Mexico.
Frijol : Beans: In Mexico, there are more than 470 types of beans
Maguey: Mexico is a source of highly appreciated drinks in the world like mezcal, tequila, and pulque. Pulque was considered a sacred drink in ancient Mexico.
These are just some examples of the culinary wealth of my country which make me proud.
In Mexico, everything is magic. Every corner and person has been inspired, including great artists and writers who are not Mexican. Just imagine what it is like for me. I breath it, I eat it, I listen to it, I look at it, and I admire it daily. I love Mexico.
Luis Antonio Flores
Mexico is art, traditions, care for others, passion, and love for education. I remember one time I was at a school talking to an English coordinator when I suddenly noticed a tree with the school’s philosophy. Together, students and teachers painted this beautiful representation of how a learner envisions his/her future throughout their learning journey. Putting together nature and knowledge, the school gives the students the necessary encouragements to enhance their days at school and home. Their representation embodies Oxford’s objective to give education to everyone around the globe.
Mexicans do have a clear goal in all the schools I have visited. Under no circumstances should they find school boring or repetitive. They teach and learn with devotion to their beliefs. Mexico is ecstasy, dedication, and courage.
When people think of Mexico, they think we are just tequila, sombreros, sun, beaches, and ancient ruins. My country is much more than that. We have an array of landscapes, from jungle to desert, from mountains to beaches, from modern cities to colonial and traditional villages. Mexico offers so much more than the all-inclusive beach resorts from Cancun to Tulum, from Acapulco to Puerto Vallarta. In my opinion, the Caribbean beaches are some of the most gorgeous in the world, but if you visit Mexico and stay in a tourist resort or the beach the entire time, you are missing out on so many amazing things. Mexico is a diverse country with a wide variety of activities to do and experiences to have. You can swim, snorkel, or dive in natural underground sinkholes known as cenotes, explore some of the many ancient Mayan ruins, see gorgeous waterfalls in the jungle, explore authentic Mayan villages, eat traditional Mexican food, engage in adventure activities like zip-lining over the jungle treetops, wander through colourful and colonial towns and cities, and much more. There are many things to do, both touristy and off the beaten path. Mexico is definitely a country worth exploring.
But I have to agree with my colleagues that what makes Mexico unique is the people. We have some issues — we have been beaten lately —, but in general, Mexicans are warm-hearted people that are willing to go out of their way to help others. We adore having guests and visitors, and we are always trying to make everybody feel at home or even part of our family. Come and visit. Mi casa es tu casa (my home is your home).
Featured image credit: Landscapes San Miguel De Allende by marcoreyesgt. CC0 via Pixabay.