As I sit waiting for another plane, I spend time reflecting on the impression Mexico has left on me. I spent only a short time in one small part of this vast and diverse country, using it as a pit stop and gateway to Cuba. I know I will come back. My first impressions are only good. This country has a lot to offer and the people are friendly and in my (limited) experience, light-hearted and happy.
It’s been over 18 months since I was last in Latin America and immediately upon arrival I needed to test my rusty Spanish. I arrived at the hotel I had booked online and they had no record of my reservation. I mumbled my way through the conversation with Spanish far from perfect, but we both understood each other; the main objective. Equally, we managed to find a solution, something I came to realise the Mexicans like to do, they are not difficult people, they smile and find solutions, my perfect type of people. We were off to a good start. So room sorted, I was in need of some food and some pesos. The hotel pointed me in the direction of where the locals eat and within minutes I was thrown into Mexican nightlife, Yucatan style. The plaza was full of Mexicans, those on vacation and those from the area out socialising. There was the occasional foreigner thrown in! I had forgotten just how much of the social life in Latin America stems from the plazas; I immediately felt at home. It provided an instant warmth; warmth of a land and its people. There was food, families, entertainment and even dogs; people’s pets also out socialising.
After sampling some food from one of the many food stalls scattered around the plaza, I saw two ladies sitting with two Chihuahuas. Not known at the the time, the first of many chihuahuas. Mexico is where the chihuahua is thought to have come from. As such they were named after the state of Chihuahua.
I approached the two ladies and their two chihuahuas and asked them if they were from Cancun. “No” they replied in Spanish, “we are from Mexico City”. The mother and her daughter had driven the 18+ hours with their two dogs to holiday in Cancun. They had spread the journey from Mexico City over a couple of days so that their dogs could cope with the long journey in the car. We spoke a little more and I asked if I could take their photos. As is my custom whenever I ask to take someone’s photo, I asked if they had an email address where I could send them the photos to them. They wrote it down for me and we wished each other a good trip.
I continued wandering, absorbing the atmosphere. I was pleasantly surprised at how many dogs were included in the evening’s festivities. I was off to a great start in Mexico. These people seemed to have a love of dogs and they appeared to be part of the culture. I stood and observed two individual families, each unknown to the other, each with dogs. Their respective canine companions were tugging at their leads attempting to get close enough to sniff each other. The human companions allowed the interaction and before you know it, these strangers were talking and laughing at their respective dogs.
When I travel to foreign countries and see the relationship that people have with the dogs of their nations, it instills and reaffirms in me, just how similar we humans are. Somehow our connection with and our love of dogs manages to connect people, regardless of where we come from and our apparent differences. It was a great first night in Mexico and a great introduction to the dogs in this region. It was also an indication of what was to come during my time in Mexico.