I often think of the places in Mexico that I have gone that have made the most impact on my life. Most were not anticipated as having a significant impact, but did.
The one that I don't have a photo of, but could definitely find one from the 70's, is Puerto Vallarta. That is when I first went there. It was pristine beauty. A small town at that time with no development other then two houses in Mismaloya. No highrises along the road from there to PV and few tourists.
It changed my life in the fact that I was there remodeling a house. The first house built there in the 50's by an expat. It was such a big deal that National Geographic did a photo essay and article on it back in those days.
It was located overlooking the river that flows through town to the ocean. I loved the house and PV. My client sold that four bedroom house with three baths overlooking the ocean for $85,000USD~! In fact, for quite a while after being there for six weeks, my mind was made up that that was where I was going to live. At that point, one could buy a house behind the church for $35,000USD with an inside pool. But, it obviously did not happen. However, Puerto Vallarta planted the seed of retiring in Mexico. I had just turned fifty years old. Nine years later, I was living in Mexico!
Patzcauro is a village surrounded by a beautiful lake that I exported from for about twenty years. It was not a place that I was able to get to often because the suppliers would meet with me in Guadalajara when I was on buying trips.
When I did start going there more frequently after moving to Mexico, it was apparent that I needed to go for Dia de los Muertos. Oh my, it was a life altering experience, to put it mildly.
If you haven't and you want to, plan on going but find someone to take you to the smaller cemeteries where there are not tons of tourists. Start planning a year ahead so you can get accommodations and make arrangements. The first time I went, I was amazed at how many Europeans were there. Obviously, it is world renowned. Go for a few days beforehand so you can see the flower markets and experience the town and the surrounding villages as well.
Xochimilco are the magnificent gardens about 20 minutes from downtown Mexico City. Developed thousands of years ago, they are still used to grow flowers for sale and to raise cattle on the floating islands built by the Aztecs!
The Sierra Gorda where the five missions of Father Serra and Las Pozas near the village of Xilitla are the last that I'm writing about today. It is not easy to get there. From San Miguel it is a six hour drive, but, so, so well worth going to see.
Father Serra, after finishing the five missions in various tiny villages, then traveled by foot across Mexico and up the coast of California to oversee the building of all those missions. That man had stamina! Each mission in the Sierra Gorda is different with outstanding decoration and architecture. The journey to get to each is exquisitely beautiful.
Then Las Pozas is a mystical, magical architectural wonder and a natural wonder. I'm not going to relate the whole story of Edward James because there are many videos and articles on the internet about him. I first read about him in a Smithsonian magazine then in Texas Monthly early in the 90's. It caused me to fly with a group from Houston to see Las Pozas. The article was wonderful but it in no way prepared any of us for the beauty of the area or what James had created. The waterfalls are magnificent. The Sierra Gorda is a biosphere area and so the butterflies, birds and other flora and fauna (wild orchids) are staggeringly beautiful. If I were to be able to go back to the beginning of time on Earth, I think it would be as beautiful as the Sierra Gorda.
I feel honored to have been to both and enjoyed the natural beauty of this magnificent country. Hope you see them some day as well.