3 Unbelievable Things I've Heard When I Tell People I'm Going to Mexico City

Mexican flag

In case you missed it, earlier in the year the New York Times listed Mexico City as the #1 place to go. Now if that didn’t add this mega-city to the mainstream, very much on-the-beaten-path, list of popular travel destinations, I don’t know what else will.

And yet, I’ve continued to receive bewildered and stunned looks almost every time I utter the following five words: “I’m going to Mexico City”.

From the uneasy expression on my friends and colleagues faces you would think I had announced I was going to some faraway, war-torn country. More often than not, what has followed in conversation are statements about Mexico City, and the country as a whole, which have quickly revealed people’s limited knowledge of Mexico: all-inclusive resorts, beaches, Corona, mariachi bands, and drug-related violence.

Here are three unbelievable things I’ve heard when I tell people I’m going to Mexico City.

1. "Mexico City? wow, I can't believe you're going to South America!"

Although Mexico might be more similar to South American countries based on language and cultural traditions, Mexico, along with Canada, USA, Greenland, and the Caribbean countries, is considered a part of the North American continent.

One other thing I’ve heard repeatedly is that many people believe Mexico is a part of Central America. Wrong again - Central America is bordered by Mexico to the north. I believe this confusion between North/Central/South America may be because some people believe Central America to be its own continent, when in reality it is simply a region that makes up the southernmost portion of North America.

2. "You're going to be spending so much time at the beach!"

It’s true: Mexico has countless extraordinary beaches and beach towns.

From the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán peninsula, where you’ll find a myriad of palm tree laden, postcard-worthy beaches (not to mention the northern portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world) to the otherworldly Baja California, the world’s second longest peninsula, which is made up of surreal rock formations that run along the striking royal blue shoreline, there is no shortage of beautiful playas in Mexico.

Mexico City, however, is about a four-hour drive from the nearest beach and located 2,250 m above sea level.

So, will I be spending much time at the beach? Probably not.

Will I be spending time lined up at a street vendor selling tacos? Definitely.

3. "Be careful. Pablo Escobar runs a cartel down there." (Yes, seriously)

Where to even begin? I guess the success of Narcos (which is an amazing show, by the way) has refreshed some people’s severely fragmented memories of news reports that came out of Colombia between the 1970s and 1990s when Pablo Escobar was busy running the notorious Medellín cartel. Not only was the “King of Cocaine” living and overseeing his empire in Colombia (which, in case you were unsure, is in South America - refer to #1), he was also killed in Colombia back in 1993.

But I suppose it's an innocent mistake to make since Escobar is by far the most famous criminal associated with drugs and violence in a Spanish speaking country. I mean, Colombia and Mexico, it’s all the same thing, right?


What are some misconstrued things you've been told about a place and how did you respond?