Mexico safer than headlines indicate —vindication, at last!
Hola Amigos de la Casita,
What with all of our protestations of media mistreatment, we know you’ve probably been thinking “boy those Casita people sure are conspiracy theorists.” Or maybe you were going to start calling us Cassandra de las Flores.
But no, we’re not nuts, just the on the David end of the David and Goliath Public Opinion of Mexico Syndrome (commonly known as DGPOMS).
The attached article on safety in Mexico is so balanced and honest, it deserves a re-print in its entirety. Will send (Oaxaca) chocolate (the cinnamonny kind) and flowers (calla lilies) to Christine Delsol. Or better yet, invite her to stay at the Casita.
The only thing we’d criticize about the article is the lukewarm headline. We feel it should be something more like “Most of Mexico is probably safer than where you live, so get over the media hysteria and get down to that beautiful, amiable and fun country!” Guess that might not fit, though.
Don’t miss the safety travel tips—good while travelling to Mexico or anywhere. (Our personal fave: “Don’t get drunk and stumble around dark, unfamiliar streets.”)
Wishing you happy travels and many adventures (preferably in San Miguel de Allende, so we can see your smiling face),
Mexico safer than headlines indicate
Christine Delsol, Special to The Chronicle
Pedro Pardo / AFP/Getty Images
Tourists enjoy the beach near a police officer on patrol in Acapulco. The U.S. State Department issued a warning for Acapulco, its first for a popular tourist resort, after a year of violence in the city.
Mexico safety tips
Your most important tactic for traveling safe, in Mexico or anywhere else, begins before you even decide where to go. Get familiar with Mexico’s geography; it’s a big country, and your destination might be hundreds or even a thousand miles from violence-prone areas. Keep up on Mexico coverage in major dailies, then do some focused research. Some sources:
— The current State Department travel warning (travel.state.gov) and security updates make a good start.
— The travel agents trade publication Travel Weekly has created a map that puts the latest travel warning in easily digestible graphic form (travelweekly.com/uploadedFiles/MEXICOMAP4.pdf).
— The United Kingdom Foreign Office Travel Advisory for Mexico ( www.fco.gov.uk; “Travel advice by country”) provides another perspective.
— Stratfor, a global intelligence company that advises government agencies and international corporations on security issues, is a reliable, up-to-the-minute source. Membership is expensive, but the website ( www.stratfor.com) makes some reports available for free.
Assuming you’re not headed for northern border areas, normal safety precautions that apply anywhere in the world will suffice. These are particularly important in Mexico:
— Don’t pack anything you couldn’t bear to part with; leave the bling at home.
— Carry only the money you need for the day in a money belt (not a fanny pack), and leave your passport in your hotel unless you know you will need it.
— Get local advice about areas to avoid.
— Don’t get drunk and stumble around dark, unfamiliar streets. Drunk or sober, don’t walk beaches late at night.
— Stick with taxis dispatched from your hotel or a sitio (taxi stand); if you go out for dinner, ask the restaurant to call a taxi for you.
— Drive during the day; if nighttime driving is unavoidable, use the toll roads.
— Leave a travel itinerary and a copy of your passport with someone at home. If you’ll be traveling in higher-risk areas, notify the nearest U.S. Consulate.
A final note: Don’t get rattled if you see armed soldiers patrolling the beach or manning highway checkpoints. They are young men doing a difficult job. On the road they’ll usually just ask you where you’re coming from and where you’re going; very rarely they will ask to inspect your trunk or your bags. I’ve never encountered one who wasn’t cordial and glad for a smile or a brief conversation.
– Christine Delsol