Top 5 getaways while teaching in Mexico
By Roy Duffield
Mexico. The word alone conjures up a plethora of exciting images. Mexico has always been the land of adventure, freedom and escape. Relaxing siestas, crazy fiestas and the dusty, open road. While many travellers are avoiding the country in recent years, there really is no reason not to take up the abundance of TEFL opportunities on offer. Practice your Spanish over a quesadilla con chorizo and a can of Tecate at your local taco stand. Watch the sunset, sipping cocktails and with fine dining on a tranquil beach. An experience that anywhere else would cost an arm and a leg, here in Mexico is a nightly pastime. Paradise!
Let’s start with Oaxaca, the favourite city of Mexicans and travellers alike. Located in the south, near to Guatemala, Oaxaca has come to be known as the city of the poor and down-trodden, of indigenous and Mayan culture, and of revolution! This has spawned a massive bohemian youth culture, lending it one of the best art, music and bar-scenes in the country, which, for its size, is fairly impressive. Be sure to check out La Casa de Los Perros (The Dog House) or any of Oaxaca’s cobbled back street cafes and live music venues.
A shaky six hour bus ride away, through the winding, cactus covered valleys of Oaxaca province, abundant with greenery and wildlife, is Puerto Escondido. This whole Pacific coastline is known for its beautiful beaches and surfing capabilities. Hitch a ride to sleepy Hippy villages like Zipolite or Mazunte (also home to an excellent turtle sanctuary) where you can stay in a rustic bamboo cabin, lounging in a hammock, sipping from a coconut and watching the beach dogs play in the sand.
While millions of tourists flock each year to Chichen Itza, the equally incredible Mayan ruins at Palenque are often missed due to their location in the heart of the jungle. We recommend you make the journey. Take in nearby waterfalls, swing from tree to tree like Tarzan, and run from the roar of howler monkeys.
Want to combine Mayan ruins with the superb Caribbean beaches that put Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the map? Then visit Tulum. Sparkling, clear, blue waters and fine white sand. Plus a touch of history. What more could you ask for?
Lastly, for a taste of the real Mexico, don’t miss the historic colonial towns of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. In Guanajuato, drink Tequila or Mescal in traditional cantinas so authentic that a tin urinal still runs along the foot of the bar. Then catch a cab and cruise the network of old stone tunnels that underpin the city. As for San Miguel de Allende, the final stop on the road for Beat poet, Neal Cassady, it has become a haven for expat writers and artists, hosting many literary festivals and exhibitions. San Miguel was the filming location for Once Upon a Time In Mexico, starring Johnny Depp, and looks like the Mexico we all dream of.