We arrived to Chichen Itza shortly after it opened and spent two hours visiting the site before the tourists arrived en masse. Once we were satfisyed that we’d seen it all, we plopped down on a bench in the shade next to the main pyramid. This is where the real fun started – we noticed that many of the tourists were half naked. Case in point:
In the Yucatan, we have seen girl tourists with half their ass hanging out of their shorts and dudes walking around shirtless. Forget the old saying of “suns out, guns out.” Here it is “suns out, buns out.” The Yucatan has some of the most conservatively dressed locals we’ve encountered in Mexico. I have always thought that tourists ought to dress more or less like the locals to avoid offending people. I am not sure if these tourists are unaware, or just don’t care.
Let’s take this time to rank the stereotypical travelers from around the world that we’ve seen in Mexico, from best dressed to worst, by nationality. This will only hurt a little for some of you.
Hierarchy of Tourist Fashion
- Asians – The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Malaysians, etc, usually wear pretty much what they’d wear at home, which means they are quite stylish and dress conservatively. Women often wear dresses, even when touring national parks, and carry umbrellas or wear giant sun hats to keep their skin shielded from the sun – they can’t have a suntan!
- Northern Europeans – Next, the French, Dutch, Germans, and Scandinavians are almost always dapper and dress respectfully. I usually envy their clothes.
- Mexican Tourists – In general, Mexicans dress pretty nice, with men wearing collared shirts and women wearing indigenous clothes or the latest styles. You do see some tank tops and shorts, but for the most part, they get high grades.
- The Americans – This is where things go downhill. Americans are all over the spectrum, with some people wearing nice, tasteful clothes, and some guys wearing LeBron jerseys and cut off shorts and some girls wearing pajamas or leggings for pants. By the way, when did tight black leggings become pants? Maybe I am old-fashioned.
- The Australians – Okay, so you knew this was coming. Aussie guys are the first to pop off their shirt when the sun is out. Several Aussie ladies at Chichen Itza took off their tops to reveal a bikini underneath. Something tells me that back home, businesspeople wear tear-away suits over their swimming costume just in case they need to spontaneously jump in the ocean to go surfing. You’ve gotta love the Aussies.
- Russians – Maybe the sanctions placed on the country after the Crimean invasion have made it impossible for women to buy a complete pair of shorts. Many of them wear shorts that only cover half their ass. It must be humiliating for them. Case in point:
Now that I’ve lost my Russian readership, lets take a look back at our week in the Yucatan with a photo of the day.
Day 49, Campeche
Campeche is a beautiful colonial city, but also very strange. The city center is surrounded by a wall which was built 200 years ago to keep out the pirates. Today, the wall seems to divide the pristine, colonial center from the more raucous, modern Mexican part. The wall seems to work to keep tourists in and the locals out.
I selected the above photo as the photo of the day because I am now obsessed with taking pics of VW bugs, which are as common as tequila here. I have enough for a coffee table book. On a related note, does anyone know how this Kickstarter thingy works?
Day 50, Uxmal
Uxmal, a stunning Mayan ruin about halfway between Campeche and Merida, is nearly as impressive as Chichen Itza, but without the crowds. On the drive to Uxmal, we passed random pyramids and Mayan sites on the side of the road. This area is so full of ancient sites that some are mere afterthoughts.
Day 51, Merida
Merida was in may ways the opposite of Campeche. Whereas Campeche felt a bit like a museum, Merida was well worn and lived in. The largest city in the Yucatan, it was busy, a bit gritty, and much more lively. Having said that, it still had some huge churches and grand colonial buildings, like the Government Palace in the above photo.
Day 52, Merida
The Palacio Municipal from the central park.
Day 53, Merida
A lot of men in the Yucatan wear guayaberas – shirts with four pockets on the front that button down and are worn untucked. Full disclose: I used to own a guayabera but gave it away because I was a bit too chubby (and a bit too gringo) to wear it.
Day 54, Chichen Itza
Pronounced “Chicken Pizza,” it lives up to the hype as one of the wonders of the world.
Day 55, Valladolid
Halfway between Merida and Cancun, Valladolid is a pretty colonial city. We are staying about a mile from the center in a very local neighborhood which is friendly and cheap. The city center fills up with tour buses each evening as day-trippers from Cancun to Chichen Itza stop for 20 minutes and rush around the center so they can say they’ve been to a real Mexican town.
So, that concludes our 8th week in Mexico. Although I’ve made fun of people on this blog who only go to Mexico for the beaches, I am really looking forward to getting over to the Caribbean and relaxing before we head back to the cold and gloom of the USA.