The news media loves to pick up on stories about violence in Mexico. The following story finally hit the news in Canada...
We had met the second couple mentioned in the story...David and Joyce Miller...when we were in Huatulco February 14, 2009.
We knew about this story the day after it happened. I have no idea why it took the media more than 2 weeks to pick up on it. We also know of two other mishaps that happened to RV'ers travelling in Mexico. It is interesting to note that the media story above doesn't tell that the bandits were arrested and are now in prison. Sure would be nice if they told the whole story.
We've travelled Mexico in the motorhome for a total of over 7 months. During that time, the worst thing that happened to us was a van full of Mexican police officers who wanted some lunch money. That episode cost us $20 US. But we were new to Mexico, and if we were to repeat that exact same incident I wouldn't have paid.
Now we know that there is a drug war going on in Mexico, and that there have been many people killed over the last few years. But that problem is located very close to the border, and is the druggies trying to kill the cops, the military trying to kill the druggies, and the druggies trying to kill each other. Very rarely does someone who is not involved in the drug trade get taken out.
And, it gives us comfort that the police and military in Mexico are much more visible than they are in Canada or the U.S. We had several pleasant encounters with them. Here's one just outside of Campeche and here's another at Maruata.
Rough math says that well over 1,000 RV'ers cross the border into Mexico each winter. We know of 3 problems that people have had. There may be more unreported problems, but the RV'ing community is fairly tight knit and word travelles quickly. So lets say that there were maybe 6 or 7 dangerous episodes this past winter. I'll agree that the risk has probably increased over the last few years, but I still consider that to be pretty good odds of having a great winter, and well worth the risk/reward scenario. The weather, scenery, and the people make Mexico a far better winter destination for us than Florida, Arizona, or Texas!
You do have to do things a little different in Mexico though. We don't wear any jewelry while there, except for our wedding bands. When going into town, we dress like the Mexicans, we don't dress like tourists. We never drive at night, and usually only during the morning (we think the bandits are still sleeping then!). We aren't flashy and don't draw attention to ourselves. We still think we are very safe in Mexico.