¡Bienvenidos a México!

This morning I hopped on an early flight from New York City, and within 6 hours I land in México. I collect my luggage, and proceed to immigration and passport control to get my passport stamped.

I’m immediately struck by how big Mexico City is. I mean massive, expansive, sprawling. Mexico City is home to approximately 21 million people, which is about 9 times the population of my hometown of Toronto, Canada.

México’s capital is in a valley surrounded by mountains, but the country as a whole is so vast and diverse that every one of its 31 states has a different landscape. México is home to rainforests, deserts, canyons, and large grasslands. In order to appreciate this geographic diversity, I will also be visiting the cities of Oaxaca and Mérida.

For me, it’s a priority to learn as much Spanish as I can during my travels. Most of the people I will meet will speak Spanish. I want to make the effort to communicate with all of these people in their native language.

Did you know that nearly 400 million people speak Spanish as their native language? México has the highest number of Spanish speakers in the entire world! (Yes, even more than Spain.) The language was introduced to México during the early 1500s when the conquistadors arrived in the New World. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, many pre-Columbian languages were spoken in México. Though some people in México continue to speak these native languages, more than 90% of Mexicans speak Spanish as their first language.

I’ve already noticed that people here in México are appreciative of my attempts to communicate in Spanish, even if some phrases are supplemented with creative hand gestures to get my point across. It just goes to show you, making the effort to learn a new language always pays off.