Last updated: 12:30 PM ET, Mon July 25 2016

Opinion Home | Magic of Mexico

  • Greg Custer | July 25, 2016 12:30 PM ET

    The World Next Door

    The World Next Door

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    For the second year in a row, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has added a Site in Mexico to this iconic global treaty for protected patrimony. Last year, they recognized the extraordinary-yet-rarely-visited Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System in Hidalgo State. This year, it’s a cluster of obscure islands off Mexico’s Pacific shore.

    Even veteran Mexico-selling agents know almost nothing about Hidalgo State, now home to two World Heritage treasures. The Aqueduct sits straddling a rift across the barren high desert some 20 miles northeast of the Teotihuacan archaeological site. Originally constructed between 1553 and 1570, the stone aqueduct stretches for 28 miles, beginning at Tecajete volcano and terminating at Otumba, site of an epic battle that nearly wiped out the Spaniard Conquistadors in their retreat from the Aztec capital (but that’s another story).

    This year, UNESCO celebrated a remote group of off-the-radar islands that some might call “Mexico’s Galapagos.” Located far off the Pacific coast at a latitude matching Manzanillo (and due south of Los Cabos), the Revillagigedo Archipelago is part of a submerged mountain range, with four volcano peaks emerging from the sea floor. The islands provide critical habitat for a range of wildlife, including nesting seabirds. The surrounding waters have a remarkable abundance of large species, such as manta rays, whales, dolphins and sharks. The four islands are uninhabited with the exception of a naval station.

    The Aqueduct and Archipelago share something we can all appreciate. We can smile and “virtually” savor these special places while knowing almost no one will be planning vacations to these remote locales. World Heritage is an emblematic part of your trip-planning prowess. But some places are best left undisturbed, to be what they are: cultural and natural landmarks to human ingenuity and nature’s majesty.


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Greg Custer Magic of Mexico

Greg Custer Greg Custer is a California native with more than 35 years working in various international travel industry capacities. He spent 14 years in aviation (TWA, Mexicana, Aerocalifornia). With a love for studying all things Latin America, (BA/MA UCLA, Latin American Studies) he is a leading authority on travel agent educational programs for Latin American tourism boards. Greg is fluent in written and spoken Spanish and has conducted hundreds of training workshops for travel agents. He is an accomplished travel photographer and author (with wife Jane) of the “Magic of Mexico” travel agent study guide. He resides in Ajijic (Jalisco) Mexico, enjoying one foot in the modern world and the other in Mexican pueblo life.
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