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Central America and Mexico Topics specific to Central America and Mexico only.
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  #1  
Old 28 Aug 2013
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Chicago to Panama end of November. MX Safety?

Hello folks. Tim here from Chicago. I plan to ride a Triumph 800 Tiger from Chicago via St Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, Dallas, San Diego, then down the west coast of MX to Guatemala. I have been to Guatemala all over 3 weeks and really just want hit the highlands and Nebaj areas, friends in Atitlan, then down to E.S for some surf around El Tunco, possibly Sochitoto, then to spend time in Nicaragua, mainly the north as I have done the south by bus. I have been to Honduras for scuba diving Bay Islands, so plan to skip it and maybe get bike on a cargo boat across Bay Fronseca to Polasi Nica and then inland from there to Sandanista/Estelli areas... Costa Rica have a lot of friends but have been there a zillion times, so want to head to Panama and check it out, maybe go down Pacific side and back up caribe side to CR.

I have 8 weeks, a rush I know, as I have to get back to Chicago. I was thinking of going up east coast of MX after a little Yucatan ruins (been to Tikal but, not Livingston/Rio Dulce or Tulum).

Whats your thoughts on this grand plan? Is 6-8 days in MX on west coast too fast? What issues/dangers/areas I should avoid?
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  #2  
Old 29 Aug 2013
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You are joking, right?
You are from Chicago and you are somehow worried about safety in Mexico?
Your government and media parroting your government spreads a lot of BS about Mexico, in fact, msny governments and media outlets do this.
You will find Mexico totally different than what you have heard.
I can also recommend a good place for Triumph servicing.
If you happen to be in the southeast of Mexico, I can send you a free ride guide in PDF format for this area rnd perhaps meet up with you.
I live here and have done so permanently since 1993, ride daily, and know the area on and off road since 1978.
Riding solo here, I feel safer than I would riding in any US city. Sitting in a bar here I feel safer than watching Batman in a Colorado movie theatre.
Read motorcycle journalist Graham Field's take on Mexico in the latest issue of Overland magazine. I get passionate about this because the US president and his attorney general thought it was a great idea to send more illegal US weapons here. I dont like guns, I dont think Mexico needed them. The good news is that Mexican people wont hold that against you. What will surprise you is how much better you will be treated here in Mexico than in your own country.
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  #3  
Old 30 Aug 2013
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I am currently on my first moto trip to Central America. I left the pan handle of Florida in early July. I am currently in Xela (Quetzaltenango, Guatemala) to study Spanish. I originally scheduled two weeks here and i am still here after six weeks. This is a very cool place and i don't want to leave. As for Mexico, I spent about two weeks there making my way to down the eastern side through the Sierra Madre Oriental. Very cool riding. And, Mike is right. The people in Mexico are great and many will go out of their way to help you and treat you like family. All of my friends in the States thought i was crazy and told me i wouldn't make it past the boarder. Nothing could be further from the truth. The commentary in the US about Central America makes me angry. Again, as Mike said, check the crime statistics of any fair sized city in the US any you'll will find they are as bad as any city in Central America. Why is it that Americans are oblivious to this. How about last week when the Australian baseball player residing in the Oklahoma on a scholarship was shot in the back and killed by three young thugs. When asked why they did it, there answer was for the fun of it. And, that was a middle class small town. If i were a parent in the US i would be afraid to sent my kids to school, because there have been so many shootings across America. I can make a good case that the US is the most dangerous place in the world. I could go on, but.....

Enjoy your trip and i'll be in Costa Rica in November for and extended period. Feel free to get in touch if you are passing through.
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  #4  
Old 30 Aug 2013
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+1 on all MikeMike and Astockjoc say
I am also puzzled by the way you are trying to pick and avoid
all those places . Get used to the idea that you are on a MOTORCYCLE, not a globe hopping helicopter or a travel video where you can skip or fast forward past the bits you don't care for.If you can't bear that then maybe get back into bus travel If you have been there as often as you say
then you really by now should have a fair understanding of
travel in these countries and little need for our advice.
As for putting the bike on a freighter across the Gulf of Fonseca
.... why ? The whole operation would probably be more time and trouble
than the short ride around.
Not trying to be mean or nasty , just expressing my thoughts
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  #5  
Old 1 Sep 2013
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I felt safe in Mexico. The State Department travel advisories suggested you keep to the toll roads but we felt safe everywhere. Your more likely to have your pocket picked in Paris France. Maybe you want to avoid some rough neighborhoods just like you would do at home. I did go to Kinko's and have them make a plastic wrapped color copy of my drivers license and it and some expired credit cards went into a duplicate wallet with a days supply of money. I kept the real wallet buried deep. But I do this everywhere I travel. I used the copy of my drivers license (duplicate wallet) everywhere even at borders, Dave
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  #6  
Old 1 Sep 2013
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Tim you've been around long enough to know how this works. Asking how dangerous it is is the same here as over on the TT: we all chime in to tell you not to worry, that Chicago's worse, that you should carry a mugger's wallet..... Then we tell you how unrealistic and altogether rushed your trip is going to be and how much better off you'll feel if you limit your plans to a trip appropriate for the amount of time you've got. Since you've posted the same stuff at least thousands of times on the TT, and since you asked here once previously, I'm left to wonder: why are you really asking? What do you hope to hear differently?

Your schedule is within the realm of possibility for a dedicated rider. The fact that it's going to be impractical, unsafe, uncomfortable, and won't be much fun even at its best had better be irrelevant to you. If so, go for it. If not, find another plan.

If you ignore the advice universally given here, it won't be the end of the world. Six weeks is a reasonable, hurried, one-way trip, so four weeks just means being 50% faster, more efficient, or more focussed. By all means post back here to tell us you had plenty of time, found the whole thing relaxing, fought off bandits wherever you went, and are relieved to be back in familiar, safe and secure Chicago (in February, huh).

Mark
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  #7  
Old 4 Sep 2013
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Mark
What is the TT forum you mentioned ?

Thanks

Steve
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  #8  
Old 5 Sep 2013
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TT = Thorntree, the oft-maligned Lonely Planet travel forums.
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  #9  
Old 17 Sep 2013
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Okay folks I appreciate the advice, the main reason I was wanting on the ground info on MX was there is not a lot of current trip reports and it is a big country compared to all the others in CA.

As for the cargo boat across the gulf of Fronseca from El Salvador to Nicaragua, the price is $50 for a bike I last heard, though the boat is not daily.

Can someone suggest a Baja/West Coast route over two weeks to Guatemala, and a East coast/Gulf side route? I am struggling to get a plan, as I am coming from New Orleans, Texas to Cali is lot longer than just going south, but I am dying to check out the coast/baja area...

I have family in Dallas, and was thinking of leaving my cold weather gear there, and getting on way back in Feb. I also have family in San Diego, and could leave it there and UPS it to Dallas so its there on my way back..

Thanks everyone, I just need to get MX figured out...
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  #10  
Old 17 Sep 2013
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There are a ton of ride reports from Mexico over on the ADV forum.
You have more to worry about in Washington than you do in Mexico.
I wonder when the last time was some authority issued a travel warning for the USA?
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  #11  
Old 8 Oct 2013
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No worries mate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solohobo View Post
Is 6-8 days in MX on west coast too fast? What issues/dangers/areas I should avoid?
Earlier this year I spent 4 weeks riding in Mexico. Almost everyone I encountered on the way from LA to the Mex border warned me about safety, drugs, shootings, cartels and told me I was sure to die.

I speak no Mex Spanish.

Not once, not even close to once, did I have a problem. I was met by gracious people, kindness, good fun, fantastic and varied scenery, gorgeous beaches, good roads (although some tolls were expensive), cheap prices and cold . I made the mistake of spending only 4 weeks there.
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  #12  
Old 26 Nov 2013
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I concur that Mexico is not the criminal wasteland that the media purports it to be. Having said that , I just met an ex- Juarez resident in the Copper Canyon area who moved his family there after seeing, in his words, at least 20 murder victims including kids and women over the course of his living there. It was time to get out he said. Poor agricultural workers are co-opted by the gangs and paid to kill, which he said they do with zero hesitation to get ahead. Food for thought.. caution is better than fear. BTW anyone currently near Mazatlan and headed south to Guat as of Nov 26?
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  #13  
Old 26 Nov 2013
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I would worry more about getting from Chicago to Mexico than what laid south of the border. I am along the Baja for the winter, Mexicans are generally some of the nicest people I have met. Not so greedy like the gringos to the north. I don't loiter at the border though, I still think it is a good idea to hover near the border, cross early in the morning then head on down the road. I try not to stay within 100 miles of the border
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  #14  
Old 26 Nov 2013
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Even staying in the border towns need present no hazard and I make a fair habit of doing so.Last year I slept in El Paso Texas ,only because it was early evening already and a dust storm was raging ,too late to go into Juarez to get a room which I was planning on.. Later that year I slept very well in Matamoros before leaving Mexico and this year likewise I slept in the border towns of Nuevo Laredo ,Tecate, San Luis Rio Colorado and Reynosa.Over the years I have done this in most Mexican border towns. Never had a worry about my safety by staying off the streets late at night . Night time is for getting restful sleep. .. then
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  #15  
Old 1 Dec 2013
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Mexico is not dangerous. I'm English and lived in Mexico (though for 4 months only) as well as visiting the States a few times. Americans seem to have an innate fear of Mexico. Hollywood and your media tell outrageous lies

Whilst Mexico does have a terrible problem with drug cartels, as a foreigner you would be very unlikely to encounter this, and if you did it'd be bad luck rather than you being targeted.

The vast majority of Meixcans I encountered were extremely friendly, welcoming and just really cool people in general. It is by far the most hospitable country I have visited, and you can add laid-back, outgoing and vibrant to that as well.

Most of the bad traveller tales I heard came from Central America and not Mexico. Not that central America is particular dangerous for a gringo but you must exercise caution there. Apart from a city in Panama that has a very had reputation, I never felt threatened in central America. That said, I was quite cautious and avoided going out at night, etc.

Mexico by comparison, I went everywhere and walked around at night. Never any problems at all. Highly recommended!
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