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By: Zdenko Kahlina
Mexico has it’s own flavor – sabor
Words cannot do justice to Mexico’s sabor (flavor). Something so unique and so pervasive, so subtle and so striking can’t be found in any museum, beach, or ruin, and it certainly can’t be found in any guidebook, no matter how solid the research, evocative the prose, or keen the insight.
Mexico reveals its sabor only at rare times. When walking down the street, for example, you pause, look up from your worn and tattered map, and realize that all around you, children are laughing and playing soccer, elderly couples are engrossed in conversation, and young men are sitting outside a corner taquería and enjoying the air.
It is then that a warm feeling of camaraderie embraces you and allows you to perceive a distinct sabor in the laughs, the smiles, and the humor of Mexico. This is the unexplainable element that defines Mexican life and its people. This is the unnamable thing that makes Mexico feel different than any other country.
The traveler who finds Mexico’s sabor will surely fall in love with the place, and in falling in love, realize that this pervasive flavor allows Mexico to somehow surpass and transcend its beaches, its ruins, and its stereotypes of men in sombreros leaning over cantina counters. Those who have experienced Mexico and discovered its sabor will inevitably return time after time to seek out the same sensation and delight in its thrill. Take a good look around you, smell the smells, see the sights, climb the ruins. But once in a while, put the book down and truly discover Mexico.
Mexico’s lush jungles, golden beaches, and romantic deserts entice visitors year-round. Temperatures fluctuate widely throughout the country. Winters tend to be mild while summers vary from warm to excruciatingly hot, with temperatures in both the arid North and the moist Gulf regions soaring to more than 50°C (122°F).
Exceptions to the rule of infernally hot summers are high altitude regions such as the Valley of Mexico and the Oaxaca Valley, which remain spring-like in any month. Rainfall, like temperature, varies greatly between the temperate north and the tropical south. While it seldom rains in the northern border states, rain falls abundantly in the humid south, sometimes exceeding 15cm per month. The official rainy season lasts from May to November, during which the soggy south receives an average of two to three hours of rain every afternoon. The best time to hit the beaches is during the dry season (November-May), when afternoons are sunny, evenings balmy, and nights relatively mosquito-free.
The peak tourist season (high season) encompasses December, Semana Santa (the week before Easter), and midsummer. Additionally, unless you want to spend your vacation rubbing elbows with hormone-charged, booze-seeking US college students, it’s best to avoid resort towns such as Mazatlán, Cabo San Lucas, and Cancún during the waning weeks of March and the early weeks of April, traditional US spring break. Central Mexico and spots on the so-called gringo trail see the most tourist traffic during mid to late summer, when throngs of Spanish-language students hit both the books and the trendy cafes in search of “Spanish immersion.” If you travel to Mexico during any of these times, you should expect to pay slightly higher prices at hotels and restaurants.
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