Colorful Mexico | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Colorful Mexico

I like to write about the Mexico that people don't always see. That's why I've made so many posts about police and street vendors, and so few about cathedrals. That's why I've held off from posting about the colors you see in Mexico. It's been done. Often. Maybe too often. How many coffee table books have you seen with photos of bougainvillea crawling up a painted wall?

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You can see why so many people do pieces on Mexican color. The images are arresting. They call to photographers the way crack cocaine calls to junkies. I shoot a couple of scenes, and before I realize I'm hooked, I have hundreds of them. Like these first two images captured in Jalpan.

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So sooner or later, I knew I'd have to do a post on color. But by the time I succumbed to the urge, it was too late. Too many images; too little time.

I think that we Norteamericanos are a little afraid of color. Earth tones, pastels, muted tones go on our buildings.

In Mexico, exuberance is the watchword. The owner of this building in Xilitla woke up one morning and said, "I see green."

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Why not? The saying here is "It's only paint."

Xilitla is not a particularly attractive town. Most of its buildings are drab. But a few brave souls want to make statements, and they do.

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Tequisquapan and the towns stretching eastward into the Querétaro Semi-Desert favor an orange and yellow theme, especially on public buildings.

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Use of a common color scheme provides a soothing sense of unity, compared with the chaos on the other side of the Sierra Gorda.

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In Aquismón, contrast is the watchword.

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Even so, a kind of unity exists here, owing to the common roof line in this block. The drugstore below coordinated with the shoe store next door: colors that are as different as possible, but lines carried from building to building.

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Campeche bucks the trend toward strong colors, requiring pastels on buildings in the centro histórico.

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Photo credit: Jean Wood

But it's still every man for himself when it comes to which pastel to use. Somehow, it all seems harmonious, though.

San Miguel regulates color choices in its centro histórico too. The rule here is earth tones: browns, terra cottas, mustards. The house below has complied, although they've taken some liberties with their door.

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These colors define San Miguel and meet approval by visitors. The architectural board insists the city center look authentically colonial. The only problem with their interpretation is that in colonial times, the city was white.

Outside the colonial portion of the city, the gloves come off.

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You can paint in whatever way you're inspired.

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That's any way you're inspired.

Nearby Delores Hidalgo allows any colors you want, Red is nice.

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Photo credit: Paul Latoures

Unlike suburbia, there's color everywhere you look in Mexico.

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It's a country where hot pink is a neutral.