Nineteen years ago two young men got drunk in a bar in San Diego and came up with the brilliant idea of flying down to Mexico, buying horses and riding them from Leon to Veracruz. One of these men was James and the few months that he spent on horseback, negotiating the diverse landscape, filled him with a real fondness for Mexico and its people.


All these years later we again find ourselves in this place, this time with the indelible connection of our first child being born here. The onset of hurricane season means that the boat is in down mode, sails off, wheel off and numerous jobs started and not yet finished which leave her totally disabled. In fact, our time in Mexico will run from June 2013 through until March 2014, when we set off for the Pacific crossing, making it the longest we will have been in any one country.


The reason for all these choices is our unadulterated delight in the place and I think it’s important to explain just why we are so positive about this country.


Firstly, the history. Our time in the Caribbean left us longing to be somewhere with an older culture. The layers of centuries of civilization are felt profoundly here; the Spanish, the Aztec, the Mayan, Zapotec and Indian each leave traces on the land, the buildings and the people. Add into that the strong Catholic influence, the animal symbolism, the ethos of the fiesta and the strange juxtaposition of humour and spirituality that is the Day of the Dead. The beauty of all these lines of personality within the Mexican spirit is that they get blurred and tangled and each is coloured by the presence of the others.


Then there is the sheer strength of vibrant creativity here. This is a place full of blinding colour, complex pattern, with a passion for craft, design and ingenuity felt in everything. A tiled floor, a building façade, an unusual use of space or a nifty solution to a problem are all settings for the inventive resourcefulness typical of Mexico.


And this is displayed in excess if possible. If something is colourful it’s more often so many dazzling, outrageous colours at once that your eyes ache from looking at it. And there is a real sense of fun and joy in the things made here. Given that we both trained in Fine Art as well as Architecture we found that after being in the comparatively ‘young’ countries in the Eastern Caribbean and all our time in Panama we had developed a real thirst for somewhere with a more aesthetic sensibility. Our time spent in the cities of Oaxaca and Guadalajara felt as though we were gorging our brains on the artistic food that we had been lacking.


Next I must mention the warmth of the people. We have only just started learning Spanish and we’re not all that good at it. But, as guests in this country, we felt that it was important to master the key phrase ‘I’m sorry that my Spanish is so bad, I am learning’. This has helped our education no end as it establishes a sense of respect, which, in turn, gets met with kindness and patience. Yes, we are still learning, but in the meantime we can muddle through thanks to the helpfulness of most Mexicans we have come into contact with. They’ve helped us with directions in cities, with processes like getting a passport, with explanations of delicious food dishes and by translating things into English that we still haven’t found the right word for. And they’ve seemed to keep a certain amount of humour when our words fail us and we resort to exaggerated gestural charades.


There’s also something innately comforting about walking down the street and having complete strangers saying hello or wishing you a good day or evening. Plus, another Mexican flavour that we’re particularly sensitive to at the moment is their great value of the family. Sure, we have a pretty cute baby, but we weren’t expecting the genuine interest that the average passer-by has in her. It’s an attentiveness equally displayed by men and women as people here really love kids; talking about them, playing with them and generally just including them in everything.


Following this: the food. How could I write without mentioning the irresistible allure of the fish taco? Mexicans just get flavour. They understand it and celebrate it in so many things they make. Many would associate Mexican food with chilli. Yet, just looking at this as one example of a food is interesting in itself as there is such a broad spectrum of strengths, tastes and looks available; from the smoky richness of the black Serrano, to the sharp piquancy of the green jalapeño or the kiss-ass spice of the fiery orange habanero. As it’s such a large country with such varied climates it seems that there is an abundance of fresh produce grown locally. All great-tasting, all cheap. For us boat folk that means that we feel as though our diet is luxurious as well as healthy, which makes a big difference when travelling on a budget.


Lastly, there is the final gift that we get from Mexico, which is that our daughter is allowed citizenship of this marvellous place as well as that of her British parents. It means that we’ll be able to take a little souvenir of the country that we love so much wherever we go.