Grand Adventure or Foolish Mistake?

A reader writes:

We have planned to rent a car in Guadalajara and to drive to Guanajuato, Leon, San Miguel, Mexico City, Patzcuaro, Ajijic and back to Guadalajara. We are monolingual English speakers. We plan to only drive during the day. We are old lesbians. Does this seem like a great adventure or a foolish mistake?

Churpa responds:

I’m going with grand adventure, with two caveats regarding Mexico City and Michoacan. I highly recommend driving around Mexico in general, but under no circumstances should you attempt to drive to or in Mexico City. Driving in Mexico City is restricted to minimize pollution, and though you could potentially acquire a special tourist pass, it’s not worth the effort. Mexico City drivers are insane, the traffic is terrible, and the city is roughly the size of the state of Delaware. Leave your car in San Miguel de Allende, where you can easily catch a comfortable first class plus bus into the city.

 

mexico mapThe cities you list are relatively safe, tourist-friendly destinations and shouldn’t pose any particular problems. That said, you may want to cross Patzcuaro off your list. Although the town is beautiful and likely safe enough, it is in one of Mexico’s more dangerous states, which has particular problems with cartel violence. I doubt you’d run into any problems driving across Michoacan, but you would definitely want to be particularly aware and it might not be the best choice for novice Mextrippers.

As to traveling gay, I don’t see it as an issue.  Mexico has definitely become more open-minded over the years and some cities, including Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, have gay neighborhoods that cater specifically to gay tourists. I would love to hear from any readers who can weigh in on traveling in Mexico as part of a lesbian couple. Any advice?

As to general advice, I would recommend learning some Spanish phrases. Even if you can hardly say anything, the attempt will be appreciated. Also, don’t be afraid to eat tacos and other food from street stands. You haven’t really experienced Mexico till you’ve eaten a decent street side torta, washed down by a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice. And, of course, don’t forget your copy of The People’s Guide to Mexico.

2 Responses to “Grand Adventure or Foolish Mistake?”

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  1. Marcos El Malo says:

    I do miss having a vehicle in Mexico, but the bus system is great. The executive class buses are more comfortable than any airplane I’ve been on. I’m curious as to Churpa’s opinion about taking the bus to Patzcuaro, either from DF or San Miguel.

    Regarding the language, I’d advise setting aside a week or two in Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende to take conversation classes. There are many schools that offer weekly half day sessions. If they’re driving from GDL, they’ll be hitting GTO first, so maybe that would be the best place. The problem with SMA is that there are so many English speakers (whether fellow gringos or Mexicans) that it’s too easy to avoid practicing your Spanish after class.

    Oh, one more thing to pass on to our intrepid gringa adventurers. The word for parking lot is pensiòn (pen-see-OWN). If they park in SMA to take the bus to Mexico, they’ll want to find a secure pension and not park on the street.

    • Felisa Rogers says:

      Good points all around. As to parking, it also may be possible to pay your hotel a bit extra and leave the car there. And excellent point about taking the bus to Patzcuaro. That would likely be a safer option.