Mexico: land of surprises

23 Nov 21 | Lifestyle

Mexico is a land of extremes, with high mountains and deep canyons in the centre of the country, sweeping deserts in the north, and dense rain forests in the south and east. It is a country of vibrant colours and sounds and to top it all off, the best tequila on earth! President of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism, Sandra Jacobs and hubby Kobus, shared her most memorable moments with Saffa Mag.

In an interview with Saffa Mag, Sandra says the impact of Covid was visible and gut-wrenching everywhere they travelled. “In Mexico, restaurant and hotel staff gave us the best service and were so grateful to have tourists to serve. In Mexico City we didn’t have a tour operator but tried to get to all the beautiful attractions the city offered with a personal favourite being the Frida Kahlo Museum.”

The city offered many surprises, like beautiful clean parks, friendly policemen everywhere and city staff making sure visitors regularly sanitise. “It was a happy place, where bird sounds are heard when traffic lights change and where we felt very welcome.” Their next stop was Oaxaca, in southwestern Mexico. They were lucky to experience the Guelaguetza, a special celebration of Oaxacan life and culture which comes with an array of dancing, parades, music and traditional fare.

Then the Jacobses did a self-drive to Mahahual, a smaller coastal town where the fist-class service they received astounded them.

“Traditionally 65 cruise ships dock here per month, but now they see an average of one ship every two weeks. We supported as many restaurants and small pubs as we could,” Sandra explained.

One of her best experiences during the Mexico trip was swimming in a cenote when they travelled further to Playa Del Carmen. These ‘natural swimming pools’ are formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, which reveals a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools.

“It was extremely hot and being able to experience the incredible crystal-clear water in these pools was a bucket-list item.”

Sandra says the beautiful sounds of mariachi music rounded off so many of their memorable moments. The mariachi refers to a quintessential Mexican folk-derived musical ensemble and has become an institution symbolic of Mexican music and culture.

From Mexico the couple visited Nashville with its sounds, smells and smoky cuisine. “What an overload of the senses,” Sandra explains. The Jacobses’ final stretch was a visit to their son Louis who lives in New Jersey with his wife Leani and granddaughter, Lia.

But, before they took the route up north, Sandra first took the opportunity to meet with the President of SACCUSA, Neil Diamond. Sandra says the distinct difference between SA and the USA currently is that the American economy is showing signs of mending, while the outlook at home remains dire. 

“If you want to work in America, you will find a job. There were so many signs in shop-, bar- and restaurant windows calling on people to apply for work inside the establishment. It also seemed as if the Covid-grants made people less eager to return to their workplaces as they were earning an income good enough to sustain them, while in SA grant money has not been sufficient, even during level four and five,” she explains.

Sandra had the opportunity to meet up with a few South Africans who emigrated to the US and said it was heart-warming to witness how they all still cherished their roots and heritage. She believes future liaisons can include cultural outreaches between the two countries, as well as presenting marketable tourism packages to visitors. 

“It remains fairly cheap to visit the country if you earn in dollars and we have so much to offer in the Lowveld and Kruger National Park areas.” 

The plan is to kick-off with a virtual travel expo soon. Click here to watch a video that welcomes American tourists. It may sound like a cliché to say the world has become a global village, but it is ringing truer by the day.

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