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By: Elvis Jocol Lara
Our Director of Digital Media is in Mexico City for the NBA Global Games featuring the Boston Celtics. While there he’ll be providing behind the scenes coverage of the game and the best Mexico City has to offer. Follow his travel blog on ElMundoBoston.com and on the El Mundo Boston Facebook, Instagram (@elmundoboston), Snapchat (elmundoboston), and Twitter (@ElChapin)
Back in April when the NBA announced that the Boston Celtics would be playing a regular season game in Mexico City as part of the NBA Global Games we at El Mundo immediately knew we had to be there. With Boston’s team playing in one the largest capitals in Latin America and the world, there was no way we could miss it. Problem is, none of us had ever been there before.
Then I quickly realized that, aside from my parents who made a quick visit in 1983, I personally didn’t know anyone who had been there before. Outside of the occasional aerial shots of El Angel de la Independencia on a novela or the view from inside of El Estadio Azteca on TV, I knew very little about one of the grand capitals of Latin America; and neither did anyone else I knew.
Now, obviously, there are many reasons for this. The lack of a large Mexican community in Massachusetts immediately comes to mind. In Boston we hear a lot about Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and in my community, Guatemala City and San Salvador but Mexico City never enters the conversation. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and the Mayan Riviera are popular Mexican destinations, but Mexico City is left off that list by American tourists.
Certainly the country and city’s reputation for drug-fueled crime is an impediment for most who don’t know anyone there but initial research suggests that that fear of Mexico City may be misguided. While friends and family expressed surprise and even concern when we announced that we’d be going to Mexico, crime statistics show that Mexico City is actually safer than some major American cities like Washington DC and Chicago when it comes to violent crime. Interestingly enough, while the US State Department has standing travel warnings across large swaths of Mexico, Mexico City is left off that list.
Of course, every major city poses some risk of crime and Mexico City I’m sure is no different. The east side of city is said to be unwelcoming to outsiders (we won’t be going there), travel at night is not advised (especially on the Metro) and petty theft reputedly remains a concern but that is true of many highly visited cities across the world.
Having visited Europe recently, I’ve seen the target placed on tourists by pickpockets in even some of the most glamorous cities in the world. Much responsibility falls on the individual tourist and common sense measures are a good start to avoiding any kind of incident.
With a direct flight from Boston to Mexico City now an option, the city is more attractive than ever as a tourist destination for Bostonians and as a Latino I must admit there is a certain level of added intrigue in regards to what the city has to offer. After all, this isn’t a European city, where our connection is largely conquest, pillage and oppression 500 years ago. This is one of our cities; a cosmopolitan center of culture and commerce enriched by a fusion of European and Indigenous roots; sort of like us as Latinos.
If the Celtics are willing to, maybe it’s time for more of us to give it a shot too.
Elvis Jocol Lara is Director of Digital Media at El Mundo, Founder and President of Casa Guatemala and an experienced Marketing professional who has worked with some of the world’s leading brands. A child of Guatemalan immigrants, he was born in Boston and raised in Waltham, MA. Follow him on Twitter @ElChapin and Instagram @ElChapin502