During this summer break, I went on a trip to Mexico and Cuba. These countries, so foreign compared to my home culture in China, enchanted me. I felt that my horizons were broadened by these feasts of the senses.
In Mexico, my visit was mostly focused in Yucatan peninsula, which consists of coastal cities and historical sites related to Mayan culture. Since this was my first time in central America, the scenery and culture felt overwhelming to me. I would like to share all the different and beautiful colors I recorded during my stay there, which reflect my personal perspective of Mexican culture.
During my trip, I learned that Mexican traditions are largely connected to ancient Mayan culture and religion. Surrounding the Mayan pyramids, there were souvenir stands selling handmade products that, I was told, show traditional Mexican religious symbols. Interestingly, skeletons, considered to be a taboo in China, are popular symbols here. When I first saw the colorful skeletons on sale, I was slightly shocked, because according to my culture skeletons are mostly ominous, representing fear and death. However, what I saw during this trip, as well as what the famous movie “Coco” has portrayed about Mexican culture, tell me that skeletons sometimes carry people’s buried memories with their deceased families and friends, which add a layer of love and tenderness to the cultural symbols.
Besides the culture and religion-related products, Yucatan cities that I visited were also vibrantly colorful. In a gift shop near the historical site Tulum, I found everyday objects such as carpets and cloth dyed in extremely bold colors by the locals. These carpets shined their hues and patterns under the summer sunlight joyfully.
In Merida, another Yucatan city, even the ordinary streets take on the most spectacular colors. Walking in the streets that form a fairy-tale world, I felt that this was how a summer day should be.
This picture was taken in a coastal Yucatan town, Campeche. Perhaps because of the unique city structure and appearance, everything reminded me of a theater stage. In such a vivid and lively setting, commonplace, daily interactions also seem to take on a vibrant, story-like beauty.
The second half of this essay, detailing Carrie’s experience in Cuba, will be published in the next issue of the Phoenix: “Cuba: The Many Shades of Music”.