Mexican culture holds a special place in my heart, from my earliest days exploring Ottawa for the first time.
When I first moved to Ottawa, everyone assured me that I had chosen the perfect city to get in touch with French culture and language. Eager to get acquainted with my new home and polish my language skills, I enthusiastically signed up to volunteer with Doors Open Ottawa (a free architectural event that celebrates the city’s heritage buildings) and the National Gallery of Canada. I was expecting plenty of opportunities to exercise my rudimentary French - but instead I found myself hearing a lot of Spanish instead!
No, I wasn’t lost - just lucky. Doors Open Ottawa assigned me to volunteer at one of the event’s star attractions, the Mexican ambassador’s residence. I spent the weekend guiding visitors through the tour (and, if I’m being honest, sneaking off to watch the dancing demonstrations and sample some of the delicious refreshments. It was hard to resist!) No wonder it was such a popular spot. Meanwhile, my new circle of volunteer friends at the National Gallery was meeting for regular happy hour festivities at the now-closed Byward Market restaurant Azteca and they invited me to come along. It was my first real introduction to the flavors of Mexico (aside from the trays that came out from the ambassador’s kitchen!) and I was enthralled. Who knew that salsa wasn’t always bright red and found in a jar?
And now, with a little help from the Mexico Tourism Board, I’m about to have the opportunity to discover so much more at the upcoming Experience Mexico celebration.
This incredible exhibit recognizes Canada and Mexico’s long relationship right here in Ottawa from May 5-7, 2017, as part of the Canada 150 anniversary celebrations. The three day event, “Experience Mexico”, includes special showcases on tourism, products and services, education, culture, and (my personal favorite!) gastronomy. And it all happens in one of the city’s most beautiful locations - the Lansdowne Park Horticultural Building.
We can’t wait to take in as much as possible. Here’s some of the fantastic events we’re looking forward to the most:
Looking back, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me all those years ago that there is such a strong Mexican community in Ottawa. Canada and Mexico have trade and cultural partnerships spanning decades and share an phenomenal travel relationship as well. Nearly 2 million Canadians travel to Mexico each year - and over 200,000 Mexicans vacation here. It’s about time this connection is celebrated in style!
And did I mention that this incredible schedule of events is entirely free? This is one of the things I love best about Ottawa. The city is wonderfully diverse and there are so many accessible events to celebrate our shared heritage and many communities. There’s such a proud tradition of hospitality and celebration here - one that I experienced first hand as a volunteer as an Ottawa newcomer- and I can’t wait to be a part of with “Experience Mexico”. Will I see you there?
Thank you to the Mexican Tourism Board for partnering with me on this post. All research, writing, and opinions are my own.