Drug country or fascinating diversity?

About the real México.

Monterrey from our apartment's perspective.

Monterrey from our apartment’s perspective.

It is hard to tell you what México is. First of all I would say that México is different. Different from Germany, from Europe and especially from America. People tend to say that México wants to be like America. They also think about México of being a country where criminals live. And of course every Mexican man is a drug dealer and every Mexican woman is married to one.

To be honest, Mexican stereotypes and prejudices are easy to figure out. Yesterday I read an article about 45 missing students and the presumption that Mexican police had killed them all. A German comment posted below it was “The country reminds me of a civil war. I don’t understand how people can even think about their vacation in Mexico.”

I felt really ashamed and also was I frustrated because of people’s imaginations of this country. However I calmed down, because I started to feel sorry for those who tend to have a narrow-minded, one-sided point of view. The reason why I felt sorry was, because they won’t ever be able to experience such unforgettable moments, see statements of the world’s purest beauty or get to know people of an incredible kindness and self-irony like I had the chance to do it the past two months.

The thing I can tell you by now about México is that it is unique. Starting by the landscape of a country that is six times larger than Germany

Caribbean beaches that make you feel being in paradise.

Caribbean beaches that make you feel being in paradise.

and contains nearly every variation of climate zones: jungle, beaches, deserts and mountains. There are places where it can snow in the winter whereas at other places you can drink a cocktail lying on the beach. At Yucatán for example. The Mexican Caribbean is a place that is worth to be called “Paradise”. I already spent ten days there travelling around feeling like being in a never-ending dream. Palms, beaches, blue water, coconuts for breakfast- that are not only stereotypes, but the truth about the places where I have been. And it was amazing. It took me only one hour and half to go back to Monterrey by plane. A huge city which is situated in the mountains in the state Nuevo León. Because of its five million inhabitants you can also call Monterrey a metropolis. That is why I had to start thinking in new dimensions.

People call the weather in Monterrey “loco” (=crazy). Summers here are very hot. The first few weeks it had been nearly 40°C. However, we had situations when we still sweated because of the heat when it suddenly started raining like hell. You think that the whole city is going to be flooded then. Sometimes the rain can even change in freezing rain. However, 30 minutes later the sun will shine again as if nothing has happened and you are standing there wearing wet clothes wondering what that was. Now, the autumn (“el ontoño”) makes the sun shine less intense. In December we either have to buy warm clothes or just travel in the south of México, where we can wear our summer clothes. I think it is going to be the second option.

Another thing that I want to tell you about México is praising the people. It took me one day to fall in love with Mexican characteristics. Mexicans help and support you every time, everywhere and in every situation. They just do it and do not want to have anything in regard- quite uncommon for us Germans. Of course you cannot generalize those characteristics, but people tend to be like that. Especially the educated ones. Those who have the opportunity to study or the ability to speak more than only one language. I experienced that they really want to improve the image of their country.

Rural desert and mountains around the urban Monterrey.

Rural desert and mountains around the urban Monterrey.

A thing you must not forget is that México has a divided society. More than 60 percent of the population lives in poverty and earns less than 300 Euros a year. That is why Mexicans tend to call Monterrey a “bubble”. Although it also has its poor parts, Monterrey is one of the most prosperous cities in the country. That is why you can compare the living standards here with the ones we have in Europe: an extensive infrastructure, electricity, water and universities. However, a thing that differentiates a lot from Europe is that education is a matter of money here. At our campus are about 20.000 students paying a huge amount of money for their education. Private universities and schools often are the only way to become successful here. If people cannot afford it to send their children there, they will stay being a part of the poor ones.

So far, so good. You see that México is not only a “drug country”. Of course there a several problems the country has to struggle with. In 2009, Monterrey has been one of the most dangerous cities in the world, because the situation of the drug cartels escalated. In this year, even students of our university had been killed or kidnapped. However, nowadays we are able to walk on the streets and feel secure again. I got to know México and Monterrey as very charming and sympathetic places. Places that are in a stage of being in progress of development, but they seem to succeed. I like to get to know the Mexican culture and the Spanish language. More and more I’m starting to feel like being a part of that fascinating country and I appreciate it that it gives me the chance to do so.