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?
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.
The 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.