I have been awfully quiet for the last few weeks. There is a good reason for that: I went to Mexico! I travelled solo around the Yucatan Peninsula and explored this beautiful region.
Sitting in the airplane and writing in my notebook, the first thing that comes to mind is the color. I felt like there was this sense of tonality in the Yucatán, that we just don’t quite achieve in the north. It radiated off the clothes, the food, the buildings and even nature seemed to be a bit more color confident.
It was about 5 PM, I was traveling with a girl I met in Mérida and we just got off the bus in Izamal, sweaty, and let’s be honest, a bit smelly as well. We turned around the corner in search of our hostel and there they were: the amber–colored houses unter the most striking blue sky in the evening sun.
Somehow the honey–houses created a special aura with the warm evening sun that radiated off the smallest shed. It was color perfection. It felt so natural that all the houses were yellow; it was meant to be. The village couldn’t have had any other color.
Try to imagine having an all yellow village in Switzerland. It wouldn’t work, would it? It wouldn’t fit into our landscape and culture, and you would end up asking yourself 'who had this crazy idea?'. Not so in Mexico. Mexico seems to be naturally colorful. Whether it’s the light, the nature, the culture or the mentality I don’t know. It just works.
A different example is Valladolid, a bigger town about 2h away from Izamal, where almost every house has a different color. There weren’t any of these poisonous neon shades, that some people deem worthy around here. They were incredibly soft yet intense tones that seemed to have burnt a little in the sun. A wonderful dirty rose next to a smoky baby blue and a dark terracotta formed an unlikely yet fitting mosaic. Like in Izamal it was expecially fascinating at sunset, when the colorful sky made all the shades fall into place to make them even more inseparable.
Then there was the food. The glorious ceviche, juicy tacos and spicy habaneros. What a treat! What I loved most about it, were the simple yet potent flavors. I am a bit of a chef myself and simple recipes, simple in terms of few ingredients, are my favorites. You can taste every single note in these kinds of dished, which makes it necessary for them to be perfect. You might get away with a half–ripe avocado in a pseudo–healthy muffin where you don’t even taste it and which seems to be all the rage right now. But to achieve a creamy guacamole containing the afore mentioned avocado, sweet tomatoes, crunchy onions, zesty lemon and a bit of salt and pepper, it needs to be perfectly soft.
Simple recipes are the hardest to get right. It’s the same principle you use for choosing the perfect yellow color, which will create a lovechild with the setting sun: Intuition.
And Yucatecos got their crap together, when it comes to color & taste.