I don’t care what other travelers say, Mexico is dangerous. We followed the travel warnings issued by the U.S. State Department but still found ourselves in multiple situations where we felt unsafe. I researched as much as I could to prepare for leaving the safety of the U.S. We carried bear spray, a small hatchet and other blunt objects. I planned code words so we could communicate discretely. We studied Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu, and Sumo Wrestling for Dummies. Mexico Safety
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared us for the constant threat of the Mexican tope (toe-pay). Topes, or reductors de velocidad, are essentially shape shifting speed bumps that have been scattered like landmines throughout the country. Legend has it that these brake-burning, suspension-wrecking, margarita-spilling 😉 death ramps are built by chupacabras hoping to feast on unsuspecting drivers.
Travel Advisory – Stay In The U.S.
No matter the origin, our bribes, bear mace, hidden wallets and sumo skills were no match for the dangerous Mexican Tope. Consequently, we highly recommend avoiding Mexico at all costs. Instead we suggest shipping from California, around Mexico, and directly back to the United States. Given the number of car deaths per year we also suggest traveling sans vehicle. The following companies offer this shipping method: Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival. 😛
Mexico Safety – Alternative Facts
All kidding aside, it’s difficult to recreate the thoughts, fears and judgements we held prior to exploring Mexico. Perceptions of Mexico seem to range drastically based on where people are from, where they’ve been and what they’ve heard. We too were initially worried about security and wondered how we would fare in such a scary place. The media had us focused on the drugs, banditos, border wars and kidnappings; it was hard to see through the blur. We searched all that we could online and realized that our best resource would be the people currently or recently “on the ground.”
What better metric than the experiences of those who are traveling in the same manner and same locations, right? Time and time again the response would be a glowing review. “Six months isn’t enough time in Mexico!” “We love it and feel completely safe!” It didn’t seem possible. Surely people had to encounter more danger than they were reporting. Without direct experience it was hard to believe opinions that contrasted the available information, yet we knew the importance of remaining open to the possibility. With an open mind, we continued our search and repeatedly found the news reports and secondhand stories to be sensationalized and narrow. We also couldn’t blame those feeding us such garbage when we’re so willing to eat it up.
“Are Beaches & Tacos Worth Your Life?”
We were told repeatedly that we needed a plan to “deal with,” speed through or flat out skip Mexico. Some of these opinions came from the “everywhere outside the U.S. is dangerous!” type of people but many were also from intelligent and experienced individuals. With so much advice thrown our way we decided we would absorb all that we could, cut the fat, and make a decision. All said and done, we were going to Mexico!
But Did You Die?
So how was it? By now, I’m sure you’ve seen how much we enjoyed our time in Mexico. By now you know that we didn’t die. We weren’t robbed, we weren’t kidnapped and we weren’t forced to smuggle drugs in our bums. Truthfully, I can’t think of a single bad thing that happened to us during our time there.
On the other hand, Mexico is not the United States. This is both a compliment and a critique depending on what facets you’re comparing. There were towns we wanted nothing to do with and people we didn’t feel safe around. There were angry drivers, drunks starting fights and a lot of people who didn’t like foreigners. In some areas we found almost zero sense of community and terrible, terrible traffic. The crime rates in big cities can be astounding. And now for my complaints about Mexico. Yah, you see what I did there 😉
Honestly, if we aren’t willing to fairly and equally recognize the crime and danger in our own back yard, then it’s a bit silly to think we can truly evaluate another. And before you get ur panties in a bunch regarding my critiques about ‘Murica”, you can check out our U.S. road trip blog posts…or sit on a pinecone…don’t matter ta me.
Mexico – Reading Between The Headlines
Mexico absolutely has its share of problems to deal with. There is corruption, cartel wars, regulatory gaps and clashes between the people and government. There are too many neglected animals, trash problems and areas that are indeed dangerous. Unfortunately, these issues are continually and popularly broadcast to those who will likely never hear the rest of the story. Without taking the time you could mistakenly summarize Mexico as a drug war and a Corona commercial, and miss everything in between. Sadly, many do.
We too, are part of the problem. Browsing through our pictures you see Mexico as a collection of beaches, mountains and colonial towns. You aren’t shown the cities, factories, Walmarts, Home Depots, AutoZones and modern restaurants. There are RV parks, water parks, malls and marinas. There are 122 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. As I write this I feel completely ridiculous but know there are people who have no idea what Mexico is really like; I was one of them. Going to Cancun or Cabo and thinking you’ve seen Mexico is the same as visiting NYC and Miami as a representation of the entire U.S.
6 Months, Thousands Of Miles & A Million Memories
In the end, we spoke with hundreds of expats, snowbirds and travelers along the way and only found the following to be true: With a little common sense and a bit of planning, the real Mexico is accessible and amazing! The people are humble and friendly, the culture rich and the food delicious. We barely knew the language but were graciously helped when in need. Yes, we felt safe; more importantly, we felt welcomed.