Tulum, Mexico (Photo: QUIQUE ANDRADE)

Complex does not even begin to sum up Mexico. Its beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean side are all that most people see when they visit, but brushing off the sand and delving slightly deeper will offer some of the most rewarding travel experiences you could hope to have. Relics of two of the world’s great ancient civilizations – The Aztecs and Mayans – poke through gaps in the jungle, volcanoes regurgitate Earth bile, and from the smallest indigenous village to the busiest metropolis diverse culture seeps forth. European and the myriad indigenous cultures have blended to create something quite special. For all of Mexico’s strides to modernity, its soul will forever remain rooted with the people, rooted in spirituality, rooted in family and rooted in authenticity. Mexico is a country where you can be climbing the side of an ancient Aztec pyramid in the morning, visiting a Spanish Baroque cathedral in the afternoon and dancing in a trendy club at night. José Gil Olmos calls it “a country where surrealism is life and death is a saint made of metal and resin.” Catholicism plays an integral role in daily life, and death is not feared but accepted as an inseparable part of living. Festivals are held year round, adding to the colour and the sensory overload. Then there is the food, which deserves a separate introduction of its own.