My first trip to Mexico was back in the 1970's, the company I worked for had a special reception for Mexican businessmen. I arrived a few days prior, to prepare for the meeting. I stayed in a very nice hotel in Mexico City, just a few blocks from the Archeological Museum.
The smog was so thick that the sun was not visible in the sky until mid-day.
I took the time to visit the archeological museum, which was very impressive, both in it's opulent display, and the superb building itself.
Later I was able to take a tour out of town, to the nearby Mayan pyramid ruins. I climbed to the top of one of the pyramids, and was quite inspired by the vista. I learned that Mexico City was in part built on the remains of the former civilzation.
Another time I returned to Ixtapa/Zihuteneo for a sales meeting. This was a lush new vacation facility, with beautiful beaches. I was quite impressed.
The Mexican border towns are gritty places. I have been to both Tijuana and Juarez. Juarez stands out for its cheap manufacturing labor and spectacularly gruesome violence.
Probably the last time I will ever be in Mexico was to be with a family I cared deeply for, who lived in Juarez. I spent a long weekend, and learned of the pride and fear that was present in this border town. This town that towered over El Paso like a monsterous demonic giant.
I remember driving by the hospital. A heavily armored tank was at the driveway entrance with numerous men armed with machine guns at the ready. They were dressed in black, with masks over their faces. These were the good guys, there to stave off an attack on the hospital, to dissuade any cartel member from following a victim into the emergency room to finish off the job....
They were prepared for a massive assault, I have to suspect there had been some success on the part of the cartel in the past, breaking through the doors and extracting revenge, vengeance, or just terrifying innocents with a brutality of violence that kept the millions of inhabitants in permanent fear..
Driving by, you could not look at these armed men with trigger fingers. These men who stood there waiting for all hell to break loose at the drop of a pin. You drove without stopping, without slowing down. You drove and kept your eyes straight ahead. You drove so that you could accelerate quickly.
You never, ever took the camera out of your pocket.