One of the greatest joys I experienced as a child while growing up in Mexico was to invite a friend to my house for an afternoon. What truly enhanced that pleasure was to hear my mother say to me later, "I congratulate you, Ricardo; that's a very nice boy you have chosen as a friend."
The feeling became even richer when, at school the next day, my friend would say, "I like your mother very much, Ricardo."
Now I find myself in a similar situation. Mexico is my homeland, my Mother. And the United States is my Friend, the best one I've ever had.
If these two great countries would get to know each other as well as I know them, then I would again hear those wonderful reciprocal compliments that gave me such happiness and joy as a child.
Mexico is a country with a magnificent abundance of beauty, color, warmth, joy and artistry. I wish that all my American friends could see her incredible variety of terrain -- from the rather austere north to the tropical jungles of the isthmus--a wealth in scenery, vegetation, animals, birds. She is rich also, as so many travelers are aware, in exquisite beaches that extend along her superbly beautiful coastline with its backdrops of the Sea of Cortes, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico.
But undoubtedly, Mexico's most precious resource is her people. It has always been so. All the archeological discoveries give testimony to this. When you visit these ancient sites, you can't help experiencing a feeling of awe at the majesty, artistry and talent that went into their creation. That artistry is still very evident, enriched by the later influence of the Spanish culture. It is one of the reasons why the cuisine of the country is one of the richest and most varied in the world.
Today, those ancient builders of Mexico's pyramids and temples are still very much with us, having left an exciting legacy to our modern architects. Nurturing the ageless tradition of courage and daring, today's professionals continue to emulate those ancestors and to distribute space with a majesty, uncanny imagination, grace and warmth that ultimately proclaims, " Mi casa es su casa ."
Oh yes, many have already discovered the sincere warmth and hospitality that has always characterized the people of this great lady, my motherland, Mexico.
And if Mexico, in turn, could know my Best Friend, the United States, she would marvel at this country's exceptional qualities, the beauty and contrasts of the terrain, the vitality and resourcefulness of her people and, most particularly, their generosity.
There is never a call for help, whether from the Red Cross, from a newspaper article about a person in need, from disaster areas anywhere in the world, but the American people hasten to answer it, ever opening their hearts and pockets with characteristic good will and compassion. It is that extraordinary compassion that has also impelled America to open its doors to receive millions of people from every continent, every nation. Today, the United States has become a remarkable microcosm of the planet Earth, and, miraculously, the society functions by gradually, but inexorably, evanescing old xenophobic prejudices through the positive and overpowering force of generosity.
Yes, there is much that is good in my marvelous Mother, Mexico and in my exceptional Friend, the United States.
I can assure you that all of Mexico is eager to greet and entertain you, just as I can assure you that the United States has so graciously and openheartedly accepted me.
So enjoy Mexico's beaches and resorts, her temples and her cities, and tell those wonderful people that you will meet there that one of her sons, Ricardo Montalban, has sent you.