Magnetic South

Ah, Mexico. Land of hot sand, cheap beer, and a foolproof cure for seasonal affective disorder: endless adventure.

Dec 8, 2008
Outside Magazine
Tzintzuntzan Michoacan, Mexico

Tzintzuntzan Michoacan, Mexico    Photo: Guillermo Aldana/courtesy, Mexico Tourism Board

The Well-Read Traveler

The only Mexico guidebook you'll ever need was written 36 years ago. Sure, Carl Franz and Lorena Havens's 1972 classic, The People's Guide to Mexico , has been updated over the years, but the book's quirky soul remains intact: It offers adventurous vignettes and info on how to navigate brothels, bullfights, and bribe-seeking cops. Now that's service.

What sold me forever on Mexico was a 7,500-mile road trip from Minnesota to GuatemalaI took a few years ago. I drove from the Sierra Madre Oriental to the seafood capital of Veracruz. Near Mérida, I biked through Maya ruins. In Tulum I slept exclusively in hammocks. Contrary to what my friends at home had predicted, I didn't get sick or robbed. My only hassle was a $200 speeding ticket. The cop took a cut, but I was going 90 in a 55-kph zone. Sure, with drug-related violence stealing the headlines, I'd steer clear of Juárez nowadays. But in the dead of winter, nothing can keep me away from white sand and sublime fish tacos. Flying to Mexico's major airports shouldn't cost more than $600, and eight bucks will buy a week's worth of fresh fruit and veggies at the local market. This paradise may have an edge, but it also offers more surfing, biking, and kayaking than anyone deserves.

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