Ruth, with our friend Andrei at the Orheiul Vechi Historical Complex at Trebujeni, Moldova. Photo taken December 2, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is Mexico safe?

This question drives me nuts and this is the only time I'm going to address it here.

Yesterday, reader "Nan" left a comment...

Kevin and Ruth, dear friends heard me tell someone that we plan to motorhome in Mexico. Well, guess what happened, they are so concerned that we will be robbed, shot, whatever. They say it is unsafe to travel in Mexico. I have given them your blog address and the addresses of a couple of other Mex bloggers. Do you have any other suggestions? OH....and it was on National (U.S.) news this morning that a busload of tourists was stopped and robbed in Mexico.


We went for a walk around a different part of the lake yesterday.

People who have never been to Mexico only have one source of information regarding the country. The news. The news bombards you with bad things, never telling you good things. So of course people who have never been to Mexico think that only bad things happen here. Yesterday, it was widely reported that a bus load of cruise ship tourists were robbed. Turns out the organizers didn't follow recommendations regarding security and timing of the tour, and sure enough they got robbed. A bunch of rich gringos from a cruise ship wouldn't be good targets, would they? Of course they would!

Now, for those of you who think this is news, think about how many Americans were robbed yesterday in the United States. Why would a robbery in Mexico be such a big deal? Because it happened in Mexico!

Just before dinner, it got cloudy and there was a bit of a rainbow.

I bet you all can tell from reading our blog what a dangerous place Mexico is. We trip over the heads rolling by every time we open the motorhome door!

The sky was really pretty.

In all seriousness, Mexico has some serious problems related to the drug trade. However, if you stay away from drugs, and you are not in the Mexican military or police, and you don't try to pick up a drug lords girlfriend in a bar late at night, you will not have any more problems being a tourist in Mexico than you would in Canada or the United States.

Then we had a big thunderstorm!

You have to be a smart traveler though. Here are the guidelines we follow...

Don't do things that increase your chances of having a possible problem. Don't be flashy. Don't give the appearance that you have money. Don't carry a lot of money with you, only enough for that day. Don't wear jewelry. Don't look like a "tourist". Wear clothes like the locals do. Try to blend in. Don't drive at night. Plan your driving so that you can arrive at your destination by 2:00pm. This way if you have a problem, you have lots of daylight hours with which to fix it.

Also, if you want to RV in Mexico, I'd suggest you try and go the first time with people who have already been here.

Watching the news has got to be the most negative thing somebody can do. We don't watch the news. Personally I find it depressing hearing about all the bad things that happen in the world. However I do stay informed so I scan the news headlines on the internet, that way I can pick and choose what I want to hear about.

So, the next time you ask somebody about travel in Mexico, make sure you ask someone who has all the information. People who are afraid to visit Mexico will always be afraid to visit Mexico.

29 comments:

  1. You hit the nail on the head with that one.
    Have been reading your blog for years and will one day also RV in Mexico.
    Keep on "rollin".

    P.

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  2. Great post. Reading your blog has definitely given me a much better understanding of RVing in Mexico, the Mexican people, and also their world in general.

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  3. When our cruise ship stopped in Ensenada, we spoke to a local Mexican tour guide. He felt that the bigger problem was not drugs, but the human smuggling across the border. He said most killings were related to human trafficing. I think no matter where you travel, common sense and precautions are important. Sounds like you guys have a good handle on how to stay safe. Enjoy yourself and stay safe!

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  4. Great post you said it all in a very few words. We three months rving there in 2009 with no problems and never once felt unsafe. And like you said I am sure there is a lot more crime in the US everyday that is not news worthy because it is so common place.

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  5. When going to Mexico, we take the same precautions they we do in going to Italy. All your suggestions are all we do. We have gone to several Mexican cities and have not ever felt a bit like we were not safe. I say...if you don't feel comfortable, don't go! ~wheresweaver

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  6. Every time I read about the crime in Mexico, I remember all the wonderful people that invite you over for meals and parties.

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  7. Living life is harmful to your health, especially done when to excess. ;-)

    The world is a big scary place for people who've never seen it. We've even had people say that they wouldn't RV in the US because being in an unfamiliar place all by themselves sounded dangerous.

    Just be thankful you're not them. It must be an extraordinary limiting life to be constantly constrained by your fears.

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  8. Why love your life in fear? Instead live it to the fullest and where better than here in Mexico where the people are so open and friendly.

    For first time RVers there are books to help you navigate the border and where to find RV parks. Once you get your bearings, the hang of the money, how certain things are done you can then roam about as freely as Kevin and Ruth should you so chose.

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  9. you hit the nail on the head!..I have enjoyed riding along with you and all the friends you have met along the way!..stay safe and keep on keeping on!!

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  10. We hear such a mixed bag on Mexico but when we talk or read about people who actually live there, they all say the same thing. That it is as safe as living in the US. No matter where you live the recommendations you suggest apply. You are totally right about the news, its whole objective is fear - crime and what's the next thing that going to kill you. After watching the news its amazing any of us step outside.

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  11. It's a mystery to me how some stories get blown out of proportion, while all the rest of the crime in North America gets buried. Or is only "local" news.
    Statistics don't lie, but of course, statistics don't make for "good" news. Or maybe, "news mongering" would be a better term.
    I won't say any more, since it's really not helpful, and some arm chair know it all will likely get into a snit.

    Apparently though, it's unsafe to take a train these days in my home town.
    this happened Sunday afternoon
    By the way, this wasn't all that far from Ted's Service, where you got Sherman e-tested back in what? 2010? I don't recall exactly.
    It happened over on the other side of King Rd., closer to Ikea.
    I could sit here all night and come up with examples of sh*t that happens somewhere or other, and how to possibly avoid it.

    Prudence is fine and dandy, but living life in constant fear is just too stressful.

    And annoying for the rest of us.

    I guess the bottom line is, some folks just need to stay home. Better for all concerned. That way we won't have to read about them doing something retarded in a foreign country.

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    1. Bob, it's funny that you mentioned "something retarded in a foreign country." I was thinking the very same thing. If you read one of the detailed accounts of the cruise ship passenger robbery, the bus was traveling back to the ship as night was closing in. We all know the rule of "prudence" regarding long-distance night travel, whether it be in Mexico, U.S., or Canada.

      Dee

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  12. A guy was just sentenced to life in prison for killing four people, 4 miles from where I live in Oakland, CA. I often hear gun shots at night. I would welcome moving to Mexico.

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  13. I find it pretty easy to respond on a situation by situation basis. My response to the cruise ship tourism risk is that it is risky to go to high school in Ohio link re Ohio High School Shooting

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  14. Funny you brougth this up. Yesterday I posted on my blog that if I didn't watch the local news and stayed away from the newspaper, I wouldn't have a clue as to what is going on here. Enough said.

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  15. We follow the same general rules as you do. I could add, don't spend any more time than necessary near the US border and like you say, never drive at night. My friend "Belgique" who is probably retired CIA practices what he calls "Situational Awareness" where you are always aware of where you are and what is going on around you. If something does not seem right, leave. This applies to traveling anywhere, not just Mexico and is actually pretty easy to do. Once you have done it for a while it becomes natural.

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  16. So true that if you don't watch the news you don't miss much and you feel a lot happier. The point of the news seems to be to make us all afraid so we'll tow the line and go shopping, that's safe. I know there are as many good things going on everywhere as bad, but apparently the average American/Italian/Frenchman/you name it prefers hearing about the most gruesome things possible and not about all the wonderful things that people everywhere are doing and involved with. Oh I forgot, some news shows close with a 2 second "human interest" upbeat story. Ok enough of my soapbox.

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  17. FEB 20, Monday, Horrendous news
    At Happy Hour, Pat and Rick came home from a golf game with our friend Craig and we learned that Craig’s truck was stolen from the parking lot. The horrible thing is that his passport, tourist card and wallet were in the truck; how awful!!! The police were called and now his nightmare starts, he will have to go to Hermosillo to the consulate to get a new Passport and tourist card (a nightmare in bureaucracy here in Mexico) then deal with the insurance, cancel all his credit cards and find a new truck IF they don’t find his in time. This is the third vehicle to be stolen in San Carlos in the last month...makes you wonder!!!

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    1. Okay...vehicles get stolen all over North America. What's your point?

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    2. Just wondering why you would leave your passport, wallet and tourist card in your truck...

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    3. Why did he leave his passport and wallet in the truck? I was always taught to keep those on your person at all times.

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  18. Mexico looks a wonderful place to travel around. There is crime everywhere but as you say you can limit the risk factor. Having followed your travels it would appear that the scenery and low cost of living and travel out weigh drastically any perceived risk factors!

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  19. Crime is everywhere ... common sense and awareness are key to enjoying travels. I find that most of the people who comment to us about our travels and how they would never 'go there' ... have never gone anywhere.

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  20. Um, any time my passport gets outside these very secure four walls of our apartment, it NEVER LEAVES MY SIDE. Why would anyone leave such documents in a pick-up truck? Good golly. What was I saying about "retarded"?

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  21. The main problem for us are the local cops shaking you down
    We were pulled our by Puebla city police(2)on the way to RV park in Cholula (Las Americas)
    We were 5 km frompark on main road from Hwy Mexico 157D
    they were just finishing up with some one on the side of road> I pulled over to left lane to pass and they came after me and claimed I cut them off I was going 10 km UNDER speed limit.
    They told me that we should not be going to Choulula as they was great unrest there.Told me that they were going to take me to jail for 3days and that I had to pay a $16000.00 pesos fine.They were going to have a tow truck take my 26 class C RV to the police pound.
    As I tried to use my cell phone to call Hans weber in San Miguel they threatened me and told me not to call anyone.telling them that i did not have $16000.00 pesos they then asked for American dollars.Told them we only had about 4500.00 pesos they wanted that.I said I needed some to travel as they made it very clear that we were to leave town now and after taking the $4000 they gave me my licese and papers back and then told me they were going to follow me back to main highway to San Miguel.
    they did that all the way to Hwy 157D and when they knew i could not turn back they disappeared.
    This is the 5th year we have RV'd in Mexico and will probably be the last as the bribe requests keep getting bigger and more aggresive.(this is the 3rd time in as many years 1st guy in Morelia got 500 pesos 2nd time on return to Columbia bridge wanted $1000 US but got nothing as I was forceful enough and they were private security guards as opposed to the last guys who were fully armed)
    i signed on to this blog as anonymos because it was the easiest for me to connect however my name is
    Robert Spencer
    Edmonton Alberta
    rds744@yahoo.ca
    if you care to ask any questions

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    1. I hope you don't take this the wrong way Robert, but this has nothing to do with safety in Mexico. What happened to you is that you got ripped off by the police. You were intimidated by them, and they took advantage of that. Do not EVER, under any circumstances, pay mordida to police. That in itself is against the law in Mexico. Notice how they gave up on the 16,000 peso fine and jail after you told them you only had 4,500 pesos. Trust me, they were QUITE happy to get that!

      In the future, ask to be taken to their officina and to talk to their supervisor. Simply refuse to pay until you are at their office. Most official fines in Mexico are FAR lower than 16,000 pesos. I'm only guessing, but the official fine for what they said was your offense is probably less than 500 pesos, and that's IF you did anything wrong in the first place.

      And don't give them your driver's licence. Carry a copy of it, and only give them that.

      And, you should report this incident to the proper officials. Hopefully your wife was taking pictures while all of this was happening and that you got their badge numbers.

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  22. There are posts after posts after posts on dozens of blogs, facebooks and web sites that offer advice on what to do when faced with Bob's situation, just as Kevin said, NEVER give in to them, and Bob just laid down and rolled over. Sorry, Bob, it's too bad you didn't do your homework.

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  23. Hi I like your blog and I am so happy for you that you are safe in Mexico. It is true that we only hear the bad stuff on the news. I have lots of friends who come and go and never have a problem. But I do have a tiny bone to pick with something you said. "A bunch of rich gringos from a cruise ship wouldn't be good targets, would they?" I have family members who take cruises now and then and my husband and I have take a cruise before. None of us are rich gringos. We saved our money for a while and were able to take our cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. My family members who went on cruises also saved for their vacation just as they would for any vacation. Not everyone who take a cruise is rich.

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    1. Hi Sue. The problem is the local bad guys who perceive you to be rich gringos. Whether or not you are rich in our eyes means nothing. It is the fact that you are rich in their eyes!

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