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National Geographic publishes in 16 languages around the world. Who better to point you to the best places to see in their countries than the editors of our international editions? Each month a real insider reveals five must-see destinations.

Luis Albores Celebrating his one-year anniversary this month as the editor of Mexico City-based National Geographic Latin America, Luis Albores has goal-setting on his mind. His plans? Push the three-year-old magazine’s circulation to 10 percent above the current 200,000-plus by year’s end, produce more material that appeals to Mexican readers as well as readers in the rest of Latin America, and add a couple of extra people to his staff to help handle the load.

“With a total of seven, ours is one of the smallest staffs among the international editions,” says Albores, “and we have the shortest production schedule.” Why such time challenges for so small a team? “Editorial Televisa, our publishing partner with National Geographic USA, wanted the magazine on the stands and distributed to members at the same time as the English edition,” he adds. “It was tough in the beginning, but everything seems to fall into place smoothly now.”

The former translator and his staff rely on all available sources to develop local articles, including the Internet for basic information and research. “A lot of people give us ideas,” he says, “or we build a story around photographs that have been submitted to us.”

Mexico


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Building a list of his top five must-see destinations in a country as diverse as Mexico was timely for Albores, who recently answered the question of “Where should I go?” for a French couple visiting for the first time. Here’s what he came up with.

1. The Palenque Pyramids
“These are a must for visitors who want to see how pre-Hispanic people lived. Palenque in the state of Chiapas is a spectacular example of the social and artistic achievements of Maya civilization during the Classic period from A.D. 250 to 900. To see more, follow la Ruta Maya, the Maya Route, in the states of Yucatán and Campeche.”

2. Colonial Mexico
“With anywhere from 100 to 300 miles [180 to 430 kilometers] between each stop, take a driving tour north from Mexico City to Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosí. The churches, buildings, and public squares, called zócalos, reflect what colonial Mexico was during Spanish rule and still is.”

3. The Beaches
“We have beautiful beaches on the Pacific coast, especially Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca. The waters are clear blue along the Caribbean, particularly along the coast of Quintana Roo near Belize.”

4. Mexico City
“Mexico is a big country. So if you don’t have a lot of time, Mexico City is the perfect place to get an idea of what the whole country is like. We have an enormous amount of museums with exhibits ranging from pre-Hispanic to contemporary art. And the nightlife and food are great!”

5. Geographic Diversity
“The land becomes richer traveling from north to south. The northern part of the country is drier, dominated by desert with sparse vegetation such as in the state of Sonora, where the saguaro cactus grows 50 feet [15 meters] high. Hills and valleys shape central Mexico, especially in the state of Michoacán where the terrain is softened by forests and lakes. Visit the town of Pátzcuaro, a gem that seems to have stood still in time a hundred years ago. Tarascan Indians on Lake Pátzcuaro still fish with traditional butterfly-shaped nets. The southeastern part of the country is lush with greenery. San Cristóbal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas is a beautiful old town where different ethnic groups—many dressed in brightly colored traditional garments—sell their crafts in the zócalo and local markets.”

Photographs by Kenneth Garrett (left), George Grall (center), and Sisse Brimberg

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