Yes, this country can put on an exquisitely beautiful face, but it has its problems, as do other countries. There is poverty; there is corruption; there is crime. In most parts scraping out a living is either impossible or brutally hard work.
Visitors who pretend those realities don't exist, expecting things to be just like their own priveleged neighborhoods back home, do both Mexico—and themselves—a great disservice.
I believe it's as wrong to idealize a country,
a culture, a people, as to ignore it.
You can have your sanitized Cancuns and your barricaded all-inclusives; I want to meet those hard-working people, not just my maid or waiter—folks who could never afford to live anywhere near where they wait on tourists—but shopkeepers, construction workers, folks I run into in back-streets miscelaneas.
I want to sample the kind of food and drink they enjoy, meet their incredibly close-knit families, and—with a little bit of forbearance on their part—speak their language.
I guess I believe it's as wrong to idealize a country, a culture, a people, as to ignore it. So I do, indeed, try to notice both those blemishes, those rough edges, and the priceless Aztec gold beneath the patina. I remind myself that they're not so different from the multi-layered reality of my own country of birth. And I keep open a corner of my hobby-photographer's eye—and my heart—for glimpses of both the post-card version and the real Mexico.