Fodor's Exploring Mexico

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"Authoritatively written and superbly presented...Worthy reading before, during, or after a trip." — Philadelphia Inquirer

"Absolutely gorgeous. Fun, colorful, and sophisticated." — Chicago Tribune

Fodor's Exploring Guides are the most up-to-date, full-color guidebooks available. Covering destinations ...
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Overview

Praise for Fodor's Exploring Guides
"Authoritatively written and superbly presented...Worthy reading before, during, or after a trip." — Philadelphia Inquirer

"Absolutely gorgeous. Fun, colorful, and sophisticated." — Chicago Tribune

Fodor's Exploring Guides are the most up-to-date, full-color guidebooks available. Covering destinations around the world, these guides are loaded with photos, essays on culture and history, descriptions of sights, and practical information. Full-color photos make these great guides to buy if you're still planning your itinerary (let the photos help you choose!) and they are perfect companions to general guidebooks, like Fodor's Gold Guides.

What to See
•Extraordinary coverage of history and culture
•Itineraries, walks and excursions, on and off the beaten path
•Architecture and art

Where to Stay

•Quick tips in every price range

Where to Eat

•Savvy picks for all budgets

The Basics
•Getting there and getting around
•When to go & what to pack

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679007098
  • Publisher: Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/13/2001
  • Series: Fodor's Exploring Guides Series
  • Edition description: 4TH
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 8.65 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Mexico Is...Exuberant
Throwing off their habitual reserve, Mexicans spring into action for well over 4,000 fiestas and festivals every year. Whether taking place in a tiny village or on a national scale, fiestas verge on a sacred institution, offering the opportunity to dance, sing, eat, and drink intensively in an outburst of exuberance that mirrors the vibrant colors of this vast land.
From the grand colonial cities of the central highlands to the more modest villages of the south, façades are brilliant pink, dense turquoise, saffron yellow, or deep red-ocher. Baroque churches resemble ornate Mexican cream cakes, ice-cream parlors rival the rainbow, and vibrant Indian costumes lend color to the whole. Yucatán cenotes (sinkholes) offer shades of emerald and jade, the Caribbean topaz and aquamarine, and the Pacific a deep cobalt — a palette that reflects one aspect of the complex Mexican spirit — exuberance.
Mexico Is... Life and Death
The Mexicans are fervent lovers of myths and legends, assimilating the cult of death into the cult of life. Their fascination with death is revealed in every aspect of their existence, from rattling fiesta skeletons to the soul-wrenching laments of mariachi singers and the often tragic vagaries of Mexican history. For the Aztecs life and death were two sides of the same coin — the sun set only to rise again, just as dead souls would be reborn once more. This deeply rooted belief led to their downfall when the Spanish conquistadore Hernán Cortés was mistakenly welcomed as the reincarnation of the Aztec god Quetzalcóatl who, according to legend, had sailed toward the risingsun, vowing to return. With the arrival of Christianity and its central belief in resurrection, Mexicans could adapt to the new spirituality without totally abandoning the old. Hence Mexico's traditional serenity in the face of death.
Mexico Is... Folk Art
Folk art, in a bewildering variety of colors, forms, and media, is present all over the country, as diverse as the landscapes and peoples from which it originates. Industrialized techniques may be creeping in to replace time-honored skills passed on down the generations, but little can change the imagination and flair of the craftspeople.
Most regions of Mexico have specific craft traditions, whether pottery, woodcarving, basket-making, weaving, metalwork, or simple objects made from pine trees, maguey fiber, and sisal. The markets of large towns generally offer the best selection for visitors, with the majority concentrated in the states of Michoacán, Jalisco, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, but Mexico City and Guadalajara offer the most varied selection from every region of the country. Hard to resist, these beautifully crafted objects were once extensions of spiritual beliefs, a rapidly disappearing practice in the face of commercialism and large-scale demand.
Mexico Is... Indigeneous People
Colorful and exotic, Mexico's indigeneous peoples are the most marginalized section of the population. Reflecting a strong continuity with the past, they are the victims of a political system and world view whose economic ends disregard their constitutional rights. Their very existence is now under threat.
Mexico's original inhabitants are an estimated 29 percent of the total population. Despite Independence and the 1910 Revolution, their lot has deteriorated with the demands of a rapidly modernizing Mexico. Most exist in extreme poverty and earn less than the minimum daily wage as artisans or members of the campesino (peasant-farmer) class. With negligible social assistance, their only recourse is to try for work in the big cites or seek illegal seasonal employment north of the border. For others, the last resort is begging.
Mexico Is... Tacos and Tortillas
Mexican cuisine is a combination of traditional Indian dishes and later Spanish influences, often spicy and invariably accompanied by tortillas and red beans. Its famous mole (sauce), when cooked over three days according to custom, is divine; when prepared in fast-food style it can be heavy, tasteless, and depressing.
From north to south, the basic ingredients in Mexican food remain much the same. Outside the main towns, it is difficult to find restaurants of a high standard, but Pacific and Gulf regions compensate with a wealth of exquisite seafood (lobster, red snapper, abalone, clams) on an often gargantuan scale or integrated into delicious soups. Resort towns have an increasing variety of sophisticated restaurants catering to an international clientele. Meanwhile, Mexican nouvelle cuisine is visible above all in the capital, where stylish restaurants revive Hispanic recipes.
Mexico Is... U.S. Relations
Mexico shares a 1,952-mile border with the United States. This vast strip has long been a testing-ground for two different cultures that meet, clash, and join economic forces. But interaction does not stop there. Particularly since the advent of NAFTA in 1994, Mexico's way of life is increasingly dominated by American culture.
There is nothing new about Mexico's fears of a cultural and political takeover: the country has been under invasion by the U.S. in one form or another since the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War. This cost Mexico half its territory. Since then, the arrival of each new fad or technology from the north has been denounced by pessimists as heralding the end of Mexican traditions. However, extensive U.S. investment is nothing new: in the late 19th century the policies of dictator Porfirio Diaz led to substantial American participation in profitable oil, mining, lumber, and transportation concerns.
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Table of Contents

How to use this book 4
Contents 5
My Mexico 8
Mexico is 9
Exuberant 10
Life and death 12
Folk art 14
Indigenous people 16
Tacos and tortillas 18
Deserts, mountains, and tropics 20
Environmental problems 22
Boom or bust? 24
U.S. relations 26
Seismic 28
Mexico was 29
Olmecs 30
The Golden Age 32
The Maya 34
Rival states 36
Aztec 38
Nueva Espana 40
Independence and occupation 42
Dictatorship and revolution 44
Reform and corruption 46
A-Z
Mexico City 48
Introduction 49
Zocalo 52
Alameda 54
Zona Rosa 58
Bosque de Chapultepec 59
Coyoacan 66
San Angel 68
Accommodations 71
Bars and restaurants 72
Shopping 74
Nightlife 75
Practical points 76
Focus On
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo 62
Walk
San Angel 69
Baja California and the North 78
Focus On
Cacti 85
Mexico on screen 90
Gray whales 93
The Tarahumara 100
Drive
Baja California 105
The Pacific Coast 106
Focus On
Modern architecture 118
The Central Highlands 124
Focus On
Mariachi 138
Day of the Dead 144
Huichol peyote pilgrims 149
Drive
Lagos de Patzcuaro and Zirahuen 156
The Central Valleys and the Gulf 158
Focus On
Ball-games and human sacrifice 168
Baroque architecture 172
Gods 180
The South 188
Focus On
Rainforest flora and fauna 196
Over the border 203
The Lacandon Maya 209
Indigenous dress 214
National drinks 217
Drive
Oaxaca's valleys and Zapotec sites 218
The Yucatan 220
Focus On
Pink flamingos 226
Mayan astronomy 228
Underwater 236
Drive
Haciendas, Mayan villages, and sites in the Puuc Hills 250
Travel Facts 253
Arriving 254
Essentials 256
Getting around 258
Communications 262
Emergencies 264
Other information 266
Tourist offices 268
Hotels & Restaurants 269
Index 284
Picture credits and contributors 288
Maps and plans
Regions and three-star sights IFC-IBC
Mesoamerican civilizations 34
Mexico City 48
Mexico City environs 65
San Angel walk 69
Mexico City--metro 76
Baja California and the North 78
Baja California drive 105
The Pacific Coast (south) 106
The Pacific Coast (north) 108
Acapulco 111
The Central Highlands 124
Guadalajara 131
Guanajuato 135
Morelia 141
Queretaro 146
San Miguel de Allende 150
Lagos de Patzcuaro and Zirahuen drive 157
The Central Valleys and the Gulf 158
Puebla 174
Taxco 177
Teotihuacan 179
The South 188
Monte Alban 199
Oaxaca 201
Palenque 205
Oaxaca's valleys and Zapotec sites drive 218
The Yucatan 220
Chichen Itza 220
Cozumel 235
Uxmal 249
Puuc Hills drive 250
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