The Mexican destination we're spotlighting today, Veracruz, had some violence occur in 2011, which probably would turn off anyone researching the gulf coast town. But those of us able to see through the dust cloud of media coverage understand that Mexico is one of the friendliest cultures around, and, to be honest, it is this incredible public misconception that makes Veracruz an even more attractive destination.
Talk about undiscovered. There’s one “resort” in town (which happens to be a Holiday Inn), but otherwise the land is completely undeveloped as far as mega properties go. Even the “touristy” areas don’t seem so touristy, focusing more on domestic travelers than attracting Americans.
Over and over again, we found ourselves the only Americans in the bar, which led to warm discussions with locals. You’ll find plenty of charm (and street tacos) in the old town and along the malecon and boardwalk, but Veracruz's proximity to the outdoors might be its best asset. Pico de Orizaba (18,491 ft), Mexico's highest peak and the third-highest in North America, is located about two hours from the coast of Veracruz. Class four rapids await white-water rafters in Xalapa, and the small nearby village of Chachalacas houses the sand dunes you see in the photo above.
We know the warnings are out there, but it's time to start looking at Mexico the same way we do cities here in our own country. You wouldn't walk through certain parts of NYC at certain times of the day, but with a little common sense, you'll survive a trip to the Big Apple. Can we please transfer this logic to our southern neighbor? There's a lot to love about Mexico if you can just open your eyes to see it.
[Photos: Will McGough, boscatravel.ru]