Mexico is a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, tastes, and sounds. It is a fusion of disparate cultures, geographies, and histories that have melded into a unique blend of contrasts: urban versus rural, rich vs. poor, Old World vs. New, traditions vs. modernity. Duality and diversity constitute the essence of Mexico, offering exciting alternatives to foreign travelers in search of adventure. The student intent on learning the Spanish language is surprised and delighted to discover so many unexpected dimensions that underlie the surface of our magical country.
No other Latin American country can boast such a significant heritage which rivals that of any European city, ranging from sophisticated pre-Colombian civilizations with their intricate social and economic hierarchies complete with divisions of labor and splendorous art and architecture to the tumultuous Revolution in the twentieth-century with a multitude of repercussions in the organization of Mexican society.
Prices in Mexico are comparatively low and make it an attractive alternative to the European continent, where costs have gone up – especially in Spain thanks to the homogenizing effect of the European Union. Mexico is still a bargain, where a beer costs only 50 cents and you can find a full meal at a reasonable restaurant for less than five dollars.
On the other hand, those seeking luxury services won’t be disappointed. Mexico offers terrific restaurants, five star hotels, prize-winning spas and exclusive resorts.
A remarkable number of healing techniques were invented by indigenous peoples of Mexico. Pre-Hispanic traditions of employing herbal medicines and ancient remedies such as the “temazcal” (pre-Hispanic sweat lodge) are being revived and recognized world-wide. Along with these intellectual achievements, most pre-Hispanic cultures developed complex societies with class structures. Religion permeated every facet of daily life, which was depicted in murals and exquisitely crafted sculptures. Remnants of these advanced civilizations, in the form of pyramids, temples, and other architectural masterpieces, are scattered all over central and southern Mexico.
3.Mexican Food: Gift to the World. To the Spanish conquerors, the cuisine of the indigenous tribes came as a delight and astonishment. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, who accompanied Cortez, noted foods then unknown outside the New World: vanilla, corn, chiles, peanuts, tomatoes, avocadoes, squash, beans, yams, and papaya.
The world has Mexico to thank for “chocolate”, a Nahuatl word to describe the drink made from the cacao been, undisputedly a universal delight. Amaranth, a sacred plant for ancient Mexicans, is a source of perfect proteins and is seen by researchers as a possible solution to world famine. Bars of “alegría” as amaranth is commonly known in present-day Mexico, were taken to outer space by Rodolfo Neri Vela, Mexico’s first astronaut aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 1985. The list of Mexico’s nutritional contributions to humanity goes on and on. Inventive Mexicans have created a cuisine from these foods that is one of the most rich and varied on earth. The Mexican kitchen is a fiesta of colors, aromas and tastes. Like Mexico itself, it is a fusion of native and Spanish traditions. In 2005 Mexican cuisine was nominated as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO in honor its rich history and continuing importance to the culture and well-being of Mexico.(see Pueblo de Maíz: La Cocina Ancestral de México, CONACULTA 2005.