editor’s note: We love hearing from our readers, and sometimes the conversations that develop seem worthy of a larger audience. If you feel up to adding a comment, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Hi Carl and Lorena
I’ve traveled with you folks for the last twenty years, and have had
only wonderful fun on my trips there. Through all that time there
have been people most willing to tell us scary stories about bandits
and thugs and all those unfun things. By staying sober, checking
things out with locals, everything has gone well in my travels, that
include all sorts of backwoods and strange destinations.
Lately the stories seem to be reaching a fever pitch, with news of
30,000 dead in the drug wars, and I find myself starting to get
nervous. I used to dodge places like Culiacan, and sped through most
of coastal Guerrero because I’d heard stories about violence in those
places, now I’m hearing stories of violence everywhere. Even my
friend, Rolando, of Cuernavaca tells me of gun fights in front of the
hospital, and he has clients ( he is some sort of counselor there)
who worry daily about kidnappings and gratuitous violence..
Now that I am getting older, I know that some of the stuff is just
plain hype, but I also want to look at the possibility that the whole
country has changed, and is not the peaceful, loving place that I
have known for so long. Am I going crazy, or has Mexico? It is so
hard to tell. I would like to go there permanently as I move into
retirement. Is it enough to just be savvy to travel in Mexico, or is
it getting genuinely dangerous?
First of all, we really appreciate your support of our book over the years. It is no exaggeration to say that the long run we’ve had with The People’s Guide To Mexico is largely due to the support of readers like you and small independent bookstores. So… Mil gracias!
It is obvious that you have “been around the block” in terms of Mexico travel. Mexico has experienced some serious ups-and-downs over the years but the narco violence we’ve seen recently is really without precedence. Nonetheless, the practical, commonsense precautions you’ve used in the past still apply to current conditions. The reason for this is that the “fever pitch” of bad news you mention almost always relates to violence between rival drug gangs, or between them and some authority, usually the Mexican Army or Navy.
As in past alerts raised about safety in Mexico, the actual statistics clearly show that tourists, visitors, and foreign residents are rarely among the victims. The narco violence would be more accurately described as a kind of criminal civil war. (And unfortunately, it is often hard to know which side the “authorities” are on.)
Depending on where you travel you could see a lot more uniforms, including highway checkpoints and increased security on public transportation. One measure that I’d add to our previous advice about street-wise safety is to always put caution first. If something unusual seems to be happening on the next corner or if people are scurrying away, turn around and go elsewhere. We can sometimes be drawn into dangerous moth-to-a-flame situations by curiosity.
I hope that this helps you make a decision about Mexico. If you do move south, we ‘d certainly appreciate hearing about your experience there.
Carl & Lorena
Yes, my plan was this time to go down near the border, and then find some travelers who have recently been there, and treat particularly the first part of the trip as if I were entering some of the areas that used to be so spooky, like Sinaloa and Guerrero used to be. Are there any particular words you could offer me about Chihuahua which sounds like where a lot of the violence is centered? Any areas that still seem safe? I realize this is a big request.
I’m really hoping that Mexico has the good sense to legalize the drugs in their country, and lets go of the battle.
I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated the common sense perspective of your book. It is very refreshing in a world where there is a lot of nonsense.