I am always amazed how a country so rich in history, culture and the arts and neighboring the USA, is a country that few in the USA even know about other than a beach vacation with margaritas in hand. Apart from the fantastic climate which is the lure for many, Mexico has a fascinating history that spans 5,000 years, and no, I am not talking about the Aztecs who were late-comers to the scene.

At the time of the Golden Age of Greece, Mexico was thriving culturally with mega cities that had developed a calendar, astrology, mathematics, architecture, agriculture, engineering, law, music, art, and sculpture. There are hundreds of archeological sites throughout Mexico, but they are predominately in the highlands and it is estimated that only 20% have been excavated. The cultures of that time and up to the Conquest in 1519 were highly developed and not at all what was depicted in the movie, Apocalypse. Quite the contrary.

The Conquest is a fascinating story that is replete with the clash of Western culture and Native American culture, with the native population suffering the consequences, as always. The epic story involves a Mayan princess who spoke seven languages and became the mistress of the Conqueror, as he used her and enemy warriors, numbering 100,000, to “conquer” the Aztecs and their emperor, Moctezuma. Since torture was unheard of in ancient Mexico, these tactics used by the Spaniards resulted in their triumph since their type of warfare was shocking and barbaric to the natives who had never experienced warriors of any nation massacring innocent women, children and old people as the Spaniards did so righteously in the name of their religion.

Today, as one walks the towns and cities of the historical highlands of Mexico, history literally lies beneath your feet. As you walk near the freshly plowed fields of Cholula, 1,500 year-old Classic Period “caritas” or fertility figurines pop up-everywhere. Pre-Colombian centers such as Chalcatzingo in Morelos state show stone carvings dating to 2,500 BC. Pyramids dating from 2,500 BC -1519 AD are everywhere from Mexico City´s Cuilcuilco Pyramid, Teotihuacan´s famous Pyramids to the Sun and Moon, Cuernavaca´s Teopanzolco, Tepotzlan´s Tepotzteco, Oaxaca´s Mitla and Monte Alban, Cholula´s pyramid whose original temple is larger than Egypt´s great pyramids, and of course centers such as Chichen Itza, Tulum and other middle and late Classic Mayan sites abound in the Yucatan peninsula. These historical sites are not just structures to be viewed, as there are state-of-the-art museums that house the sculptures, carvings, incredible crafts/art of everyday use which is the art of Native Americans, and jewelry/body ornaments based on lost-wax techniques using precious metals such as gold, silver and semi-precious stones.

Mexico has a rich history starting with it´s ancient, highly advanced cultures as they developed agricultural methods to cultivate corn, beans and squash, which then allowed them to develop cities and population centers as urbane and cultured as any in Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt or the Indus Valley. Come and explore what is so close yet so lost to the average traveler.