WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT MEXICO OVER THE YEARS

As I embarked on my journeys through Europe, Asia, South America and many parts of the world, I never had an interest concerning the cultures or people of our neighboring country just south of the border. Growing up in Southern California, I've had many friends of Latino descent, but we were always taught the dangers and impoverished conditions of Mexico that my wanderlust heart never had a desire to cross the border...until now.

My first trip into Mexico as an adult was with a friend from San Diego who was celebrating her college graduation in Cabo San Lucas with a handful of her closest friends. I fully understood that Cabo was just one of those resort towns full of American cultures to fit the needs of its visitors. But my 4-day adventure in Cabo not only ended with extraordinary memories I will cherish forever but also my desire to continuously return back and explore various parts that Mexico has to offer.

Shortly after the Cabo trip, my boyfriend and I decided on a last minute road trip down to Rosarito, just 45 minutes south of the border. We found an amazing beachfront home on Airbnb and booked two rooms, one for us and one for two friends of ours that we convinced to drive down with us. Our Airbnb host greeted us with some delectable snacks of chips and salsa and freshly made margaritas, cerveza (that's beer in Spanish), and some delicious red wine. This is when we learned that Mexico has its own wine country which happens to produce this bottle of red blend we were sipping on from Santo Tomas, one of the oldest wineries in Mexico! Who knew! As a wanna-be wine connoisseur, I was determined to find out more about this hidden secret that Mexico seems to be holding out on. So a couple of months later, we found yet another gem, a rustic yet charming bed and breakfast in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico's wine country, to see what new discoveries we would stumble upon this time. This particular trip was to celebrate the anniversary of my now husband and I's 3 years of dating, so we wanted something that was off the beaten path yet easy to influence our friends and families to visit if we ended up enjoying our time, which of course, we did! Not only did we enjoyed our romantic getaway, but we also left with unexpected friendships that have since flourished into a family.

The bed and breakfast was run by Arturo, an Ensenada local whose family was well known in the community. Due to the booming wine business in the Valle, the family decided to turn their vacation home into a bed and breakfast. Arturo and the men who help him run the business created an extraordinary friendship with us that weekend, they insisted we come back and stay at their own personal residence in Ensenada where they have treated us as their own family numerous times by allowing us to stay free of charge and took us on adventures throughout the city.

Since meeting Arturo and his amazing circle of friends in Ensenada, we have had the honor of hosting our wedding on his property where 50 of our closest friends were treated to an unexpected 4 days of unparalleled celebration! Their uttered amazement at the beauty of Valle de Guadalupe and the incredible hospitality from our new Mexican friends was exactly what I wanted them to experience. Even those who were apprehensive about going into Mexico but reluctantly accepted our wedding invitation had a change of heart after the amazing nuptials.

Our Mexican cultural exploration continued years after that as we fearlessly tasted different varieties of mole in the city of Puebla, learned the manufacturing process of tequila in the state of Jalisco, divulge in one of the top 50 restaurants of Latin America in the city of Monterrey, ringing in the New Year with thousands of people dancing and singing at Monumento a la Independencia in Mexico City, and fell in love again at the most romantic city in Mexico sharing a kiss at Callejón del Beso in Guanajuato. Our endless pursuit to discover Mexico will continue.

Have you ever been to Mexico? What are your thoughts about the country whether you've been there or not? Comment below!

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