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  • 1 Post By garrydymond
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  #1  
Old 25 Oct 2011
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CA / Mexico Security

I'm planning on riding to Mexico / CA to Panama beginning in March 2012 and riding back up in May. I'm not an alarmist but how safe is CA currently. I know that stuff happens but does it happen here more than elsewhere? I have read everything from "safer than a mothers arms" to "you will die if you come here". What is the true state of affairs at this time. Is there any country I should avoid? Should I be more afraid of the government or of the civilians or neither. Good info is hard to get from our media and I'm depending on you guys that are there or have been there recently.

If it matters I'll be riding a R12GS.

Any info better than Lonely Planet would be appreciated!

Oh yeah! I am a Latin American newbie so please pardon my ignorance!

Kurt
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  #2  
Old 25 Oct 2011
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Which border crossing are you using into Mexico and what is your basic route plan?
Here in Mexico, it is a case of eyes open, head up, and just pay attention to your surroundings like you would in any other place. Watch out for the transit cops in Tampico if your route takes you through there. I am in Veracruz if you need the usual "do this and don't do that" kind of stuff. Send me a private message if you like.
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  #3  
Old 25 Oct 2011
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I have had over 60 motorcyclists stay with me over the last 5 yearsat my home in Mexico City. Of those, 3 have had serios problems. 1 one was shot at near I think San Pedro in Guatemala. Another was robbed at gun point at or very near the same place. The other one died in a traffic accident in Oaxaca in Mexico.
You are riding a motorcycle it is inherently dangerous. Use common sense, don't ride at night, don't go out looking for drugs. hookers etc. or if you do expect unpleasant things to happen.
If you want a place to stay in Mexico City you are welcome to stay with us.

Garry
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  #4  
Old 25 Oct 2011
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It is quite survivable in Mexico and Central America as long as you keep your eyes open , mind your manners and don't do stupid things.
For a first timer it might be easier to go into Mexico from Eagle Pass and down to Allende.
This gets you into the country through a relatively small town and all the border paperwork can easily be done at Allende when you are already 52km away from the border. This way you avoid big city traffic and road signange which may be new and confusing to you. You then get to work yourself into good habits and soe familiarity with Mex traffic before the next big town Monclova and the next big city Saltillo .
Make it a point to always get a hotel well before dark and never ride out along the open highways after dark-- this is because of the CATTLE which roam freely nearly everywhere, even along the median of many socalled fourlane freeways.Besides at night you see nothing of the country except the patch in your headlight beam.
If you keep an ear to the latest news you can steeer around any trouble spots , but if you only travel during daylight even those may be of minor concern. Most of the shootups between police and narcos seem to happen in the dark of night when any sane treaveller should be snoozing comfortably in a nice little hotel.
Central America is the same story
In general do take the trouble to watch people in your surroundings .If you stopped along the highway or if walking in crowded inner city areas Stay ALERT. if some car suddenly hangs a u turn after passing you make ready to ride off PRONTO. There is the chance that they are intent on larceny, a crime of opportunity, a highway mugging.
Same thing if standing at roadside vista points. Stay alert.
With practice and common sense you can easily have a great uneventful trip.
Note on Tampico transit cops: it was re[ported earlier this summmer that the whole lot of them has been replaced with federal police. Good!! The same should be done in many other towns -- always ride with full attention to the rules and speed limits when in any town , don't give them any excuse for stopping you. If stopped stay polite but refuse to cave in and after a while you will be let go.
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  #5  
Old 25 Oct 2011
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Thanks for the replies! They pretty much confirmed what I already knew. It's just that the media here is so full of contradictions even to their own reports.

I have heard stories about the Tampico area. Even so, I am not really worried about Mexico. It is mainly El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. (My apologies to those for being so gullible an un-trusting!) Actually I am an ESL teacher with students from all those countries and I should know better. I am brushing up on my Spanish as much as I can because I do not want to be an "ugly American".

I plan on riding in through Eagle Pass and continuing to Belize, making a wide circle around Tampico. Then to Guatemala and El Salvador to pick up the Pan American down to Metiti and then back up the Pan American to Mexico. In Mexico I plan on taking the ferry from from Mazatlan to La Paz and ride up Baja to Tecate. Then to San Diego to visit family. From there back across the US to Asheville.

Thanks and any other thoughts would be appreciated!
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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This is from a friends blog dated today, October 25, 2011.


We're taking a rest day in Santa Ana. The idea was to give Greg Powell, a Canadian friend making the same trip a chance to catch up with us.

He stopped over at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and was beaten and robbed, and on top of it all his bike damaged. The State Department Advisories say Don't go to Lake Atitlan. We followed their advice. Greg is physically OK but the bike needs work and he needs to replace a bunch of his gear.
We're glad there are two of us and even more so that we're out of Guatemala.
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  #7  
Old 26 Oct 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ferris View Post
This is from a friends blog dated today, October 25, 2011.


We're taking a rest day in Santa Ana. The idea was to give Greg Powell, a Canadian friend making the same trip a chance to catch up with us.

He stopped over at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and was beaten and robbed, and on top of it all his bike damaged. The State Department Advisories say Don't go to Lake Atitlan. We followed their advice. Greg is physically OK but the bike needs work and he needs to replace a bunch of his gear.
We're glad there are two of us and even more so that we're out of Guatemala.
Just what my wife needs to see. BTW, I will be travelling solo!
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  #8  
Old 26 Oct 2011
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Sjoerd,
The transit cops weren't replaced, they are still at it and on the job.
Last rider that came through that had problems with them was only a few weeks ago. The PFP supposedly supplanted the local police and not the transit cops.
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  #9  
Old 1 Nov 2011
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Re Tampico transitos - still there still crooked
Drat, mierda and all such sentiments. \
Guess we'll have to really mind our road manners going thru there and if stopped stick to the lines of not speaking spanjol , not handing over any license and just biding our time till hey give up and let us go. Maybe, someday they will be removed, we can always hope.
If stopped for a clearly false reason get out the digital camera and start shooting video in an obvious fashion .That helped me immensely this past February , they immediately changed their tune and turned into being effusively helpful and sent us on our way..
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Old 3 Nov 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nugentch View Post
Just what my wife needs to see. BTW, I will be travelling solo!

Lake Atitlan is like anywhere else, there are places you just don't go, if you stay on the main roads leading into the towns and don't ride around the lake you will (or should) be fine. There are really nice places alongside the lake. listen to the locals and you will be okay.
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  #11  
Old 3 Nov 2011
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Greg's back on the road, again.
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  #12  
Old 22 Nov 2011
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tampico transit guys

Was in Tampico 2 weeks ago and got stoped twice in 2 km by these clowns.

Both time I didn't speak a word of spanish and was telling them (in french) that I would like to pay the ticket. They got tired rather quickly and sent me off.

Regarding the original poster question. I crossed in Matamoros. Clean and easy border crossing, same for La messilla in Guatemala (crossed 3 days ago, change guys gave good rate).

My impression of both country so far is that by traveling by day you will only see regular people just living their lives. I haven't seen anything scary anywhere. I drive in the day only and stop only where there's some population. I'm sticking to major roads in central america.

Hope this helps !
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Last edited by Guillaume; 22 Nov 2011 at 04:48.
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  #13  
Old 22 Nov 2011
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Greg stayed in my house for a week and all that his bike needed to be done was replacing one mirror .
If you are so glad to be out of Guatemala , so why did you come down here in the first place ???
Guatemala is a pretty safe place to ride , I'm out there riding 3 days a week , most of the time solo and never had a problem . Use common sense and be respectfull with the locals , never forget that you are a guest and you will be OK .
The only place you should stay away from , are some bad neighborhoods in Guate city , but the same goes for every other big city in the world .



Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ferris View Post
This is from a friends blog dated today, October 25, 2011.


Greg is physically OK but the bike needs work and he needs to replace a bunch of his gear.
We're glad there are two of us and even more so that we're out of Guatemala.
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  #14  
Old 23 Dec 2011
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Hoduras and El Salvador

We spent 5 months in Mexico and 1 month in Guatemala, maybe the best time of our lives, I also traveled with my twin children 4.5 year old 2.5 months through Mexico, not one bad experience sleeping in the van most of the time, the contrary.

NOW we are on to Hoduras and it has the biggest homicide rate in world, San Salvador is known for (ex Los Angeles) gang violence...
Does any one have some recent specific information?
Or better just avoid the capitals all together...

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  #15  
Old 23 Dec 2011
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I felt Safe

I am one of the guy's who was waiting for Greg in Santa Anna. I did not feel unsafe in any Central American country. I did feel a need to be cautious. I read state department advisories. I avoided bad neighborhoods, and did not stay out late at night. I was aware of crimes like express kidnapping that you don't have a lot of at home. Greg went to a place the State department advisories said "don't go." These countries have a high crime rate. But so does L.A. I would not avoid any country. Your more likely to get ripped off going across the border by a customs person than any crook.

I am now in Argentina. Everyone says the cops are trouble here, but they have not bothered me. I have a go pro cam mounted on my helmet. Any cop who pulls me over knows in advance his picture is going to be on film. Maybe that is a factor. Dave
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