February 23, 2024

Mexico: the oft-overlooked neighbor country of the United States draws mixed feelings from my peers. We crave adventures and travel abroad, yet hardly look twice at the country that lies just beyond our fingertips.

Mexico always gets a bad rap in America, usually brought up in relation to immigration, narcotics or spring break plans. This overall general attitude can be a vicious monster, growing from malicious rumors and political news briefs. The country itself, its culture is fairly unfamiliar.

I moved to Southern California for college, and that is when I started hearing the horror stories of Mexico. I heard about drugs, cartels and kidnappings. I heard about the terrible corruption of the government and how locals scam foreigners. I heard about people going to Mexico and never coming back. Those were the stories I heard about Mexico, and they were the reason I never visited Mexico even though I lived four hours away from the border.

It’s unfortunate the way it happens, the way we let others override our opinions instead of letting our own personal experiences dictate otherwise. We believe the rumors and spread the stigma, but I think it’s time to stop.

I think it’s time to stop because I went to Mexico and things changed. I traveled with friends, and not only did we survive, but we enjoyed our time there so much we went back again. Instead of hearing the stories of others, we made our own.

We lived out stories about the honest Mexicans who pointed us in the right direction when we were lost. We lived out stories about these people who were open and generous.

We caught a glimpse of their complex heritage.

We tasted the food and coasted along the beautiful cliffside of a country we had previously left unexplored.

In Mexico, we unearthed a rich culture hidden under the dust of modern-day politics.

Sure, there are dangerous things about Mexico. Doesn’t that come with any country, though? Mexico is a gem right under our nose, a diamond in the rough. Do not make the same mistake I made and let other people define what Mexico is for you. Define it yourself. Go, and decide it yourself.

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