A husband-and-wife duo from Canada is illustrating the colourful side of Mexico, providing would-be travellers with a counterpoint to the headlines about violence and organized crime.

Full-time globetrotters Katie and Geoff Matthews, the married couple behind a travel blog called Wandertooth, have got into the business of publishing adult colouring books. They kicked off their venture with “Travel Between the Lines: Inspirational Coloring for Globetrotters and Daydreamers.”

In partnership with another Canadian travel duo and an illustrator, they recently put the finishing touches on a second adult colouring book. Based on personal photos, the illustrations depict the vibrant streets and landscapes of Mexico.

Mexico adult colouring book

Katie said their aim with “Travel Between the Lines: Coloring Mexico” in part, is to counter the perception that the whole country is a dangerous place for foreigners.

“We’ve experienced nothing but warmth and hospitality and the country is stunningly beautiful,” Matthews said in a recent phone interview from Guanajuato, Mexico. “All of us feel it’s a shame that, as Canadians, all we hear about are the negative things.”

Since they arrived in Mexico last September, Katie said she receives messages over social media from people “all the time,” asking if the country is a safe place to travel to.

“To be honest, I have more anxiety about travelling through some places in the United States than I do with Mexico,” said Katie, who has travelled to more than 50 countries with her husband.

Katie said headlines about violence in Mexico and travel warnings might leave the wrong impression with travellers planning to visit.

While the regions featured in the colouring book have “zero” travel warnings from Canadian or American authorities, Katie acknowledges that there are some places in Mexico that should be avoided.

“Of course, you have to keep your wits about you in Mexico, because there are areas that are very dangerous,” she said. “So we don’t personally want to travel to those areas, either.”

Mexican adult colouring book

While there is no nationwide advisory in effect for Mexico, the Canadian government urges travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution due to violence in those parts of the country experiencing a deteriorating security situation.”

Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to several northern and western states “due to high levels of violence linked to organized crime.”

Last year, a spike in gang violence in the Mexico’s Jalisco state threatened to affect Mexican resort destinations frequented by Canadian tourists. Violent battles between drug cartels and state police prompted Canadian and U.S. embassies in Mexico to warn their citizens against travelling to popular areas such as Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara.

In terms of cartel violence, Katie said that “ordinary Mexicans are suffering because of that more than any foreign visitor would be.”

While Katie and her husband have not experienced any crime firsthand, their partners in the colouring book venture, Pete and Dalene Heck, have. On their Hecktic Travels blog, the Hecks describe an incident two years ago in Mexico when Pete was robbed at gunpoint during a run on the beach. However, it did not stop them from returning to Mexico, as the couple is currently staying in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Hecktic Travels and Wandertooth
Travel bloggers Geoff and Katie Matthews (front left) and Pete and Dalene Heck (back right)

'Colouring Mexico'

This is the first entrepreneurial venture for Katie and Geoff since they hit the road permanently. They are currently selling the adult colouring books online, and Katie said at least one bookstore in Calgary is putting the book on their shelves.

The couple hopes to build a Lonely Planet-type collection of adult travel colouring books.

“We had wanted to start our own business for a while and we just got stuck in the research phase. Finally, we just said, ‘Let’s go big or go home,’ and at that point it literally was, ‘go home and get jobs,’” Katie said with a laugh.