I dined last night at a table full of journalists, in an exciting city, with plenty of wine and unusual food–the kind of setting that I yearn for. The reach of the conversation was fascinating; the topic was mainly this fabulous country–Mexico. I’ve learned over the years to cherish these opportunities to sit for hours and learn about the world from my well-traveled colleagues.
A fellow winner sat to my right–Marybeth from San Diego, who is about my age and has been a reporter and travel writer for twenty years. At my left was the lovely and charming Deirdre from Dublin, who works for the Irish version of BBC, and who circled the world during her gap year about ten years ago. We talked about the places in Mexico that get bad press. And Marybeth told us how wonderful Chiapas and Baja were. There’s a place I’ve always wanted to go but that typical American fear keeps me away. It’s a shame. I asked them about Sinaloa, a lawless state where narco traffickers have dominated. Another writer from Mexico City said that’s like being afraid in Chicago for what happens in Denver. It’s a big place.
Mexico City is another place that years ago I developed a prejudice against, fearing the smog and the situation with the water and the legions of poor. It’s been cleaned up quite a bit, the Mexico city man told us, and today some of the neighborhoods there are wonderful and safe.
The one place Marybeth was the most excited about surprised me. She said of all her worldly travels, Antarctica made her the most inspired. It is the absence of civilization, I think, that made her love it there so much. “Isn’t it all just ice and penguins?” I asked naively. “It’s my favorite place in the world, and I’d go back in a heartbeat,” was her passionate answer.