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Central America and MexicoTopics specific to Central America and Mexico only.
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My wife and I are travelling across the USA and plan to head down through Mexico to South America. On our trip through the US, every American we've come across, from Connecticut to Texas, has said they wouldn't go to Mexico, due to drug wars and kidnapping. We at first thought that perhaps the people here are a little over cautious due to media hype, but as we near the Mexican border there is an abundance of Police and Texans who use to go to Mexico warning us off. What is the situation here? If all these people say that its dangerous, but I still go, and put my wife and myself in danger, who's really the idiot here? Anyone recently go through Mexico? Which route did you take?
Having just returned to the U.S. I find the level of irrational fear in society here astonishing. As a tourist I believe you're statistically more at risk visiting New Orleans, Chicago or Los Angeles than you are by visiting Mexico. Mexican violence is real, however the biggest risk to your safety is caused by "topes", animals on the road, and poor driving standards. Avoid the obvious border hotspots, cross the border in the morning, push on into Mexico, and apply the normal precautions you would when visiting any other country and you'll be fine. You'll also be rewarded with the diverse culture and latin warmth that awaits you.
I would add that after 3 years in the saddle and 80,000 miles on the road I've had my first accident; I was driven into by a cell phone wielding driver in Louisiana. I was recently threatened for the first time on my trip too; in Tennessee. Neither incident has put me off enjoying what the U.S. has to offer so please don't let innuendo deter you from enjoying Mexico. I'm certain you'll get more feedback from motorcyclists enjoying the region who'll be happy to share first hand experiences of their travels.
I agree with the previous post. Danger is everywhere. When you get to Mexico everyone will tell you not to go to Guatemala because it is very dangerous.
You're riding a motorcycle which is obviously a dangerous thing to do but you have evaluated the risk and decided to take it. It is up to you to do the same with any contry you visit
I have lived in Mexico for over 30 years and heve driven cars and ridden motorcycles all over Mexico without serios incidents.
If you make it to Mexico and want to visit Mexico City you are welcome to stay with us. We will put you up and show you around. Many many people will tell you to avoid Mexico City but it is a great place and there is a lot to see.
Whatever you decide to do use common sense and enjoy yourself.
While I agree with most of the above posters, there are areas that are much more dangerous than they were a couple years ago. I don't know your route, but I would avoid the state of Tamaulipas entirely, and cross the border at Laredo or upriver from there. Travel south during the middle of the day for a couple days and then relax a little. As stated above, and as you are finding in Texas, the locals will always tell you the people over the next hill are the bad ones. Usually they are wrong, but sometimes they are right, but it's hard to tell when.
I live in San Antonio and work with a lot of Mexicans, most of them won't go back to visit family now, due to the narco violence. I don't want to tell you not to go, as I think you would have to be very unlucky to have any trouble. I love travelling in Mexico and plan to go back myself this fall, but this thread sounds a little one sided to me.
I rode solo through Mexico in the spring of 2010 on my Central America trip. In fact I drove through twice since it was a return trip. Aside from the "driving style" that's customary down there I came across exactly zero problems. There's no doubt that there is a lot of drug violence going on but as others have pointed out you'd have to be extremely unlucky to get caught in the crossfire. My experiences were all positive and I encountered nothing but friendly, helpful and hospitable people including the military and police. Nasty people do exist in abundance in Mexico as well as the USA, Canada, Britain, etc, etc.
If we made our travel decisions based on media reports then pretty much the entire globe would be off limits. Just Google crime reports for a "peaceful" little city like Vancouver, for example. Hockey riots with looting and torched vehicles, drug shootouts, break-ins, vehicle thefts, etc, etc. But would we avoid Vancouver as a result? Most likely not.
Enjoy your trip, take normal precautions, don't go into known drug backwoods areas.
Just rode from La Mesilla to Agua Prieta, the entire length of Mexico. Zero issues.
I have been out of the States for the last 2 years so I have not been bombarded by sensational, the world is coming to an end, media reports. I of course know that things in Mexico have heated up wrt to cartel violence but I honestly didnt worry about it affecting me.
Its possible that you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the chances of that happening to you in Mexico now is probably greater than in the States, but it is what it is. I still think that its a very, very low probability that you will be affected by the cartel wars.
In addition, I have not heard of cartel members specifically targeting tourists or motorcyclists at this time.
I think if you use the normal precautions, being off the road well before dark, etc, etc, you will be fine.
hi i spent almost three months in mexico this year starting in Baja, heading south mostly close to the pacific, i went in to Durango, Zacatecas Guadalajara, Morelia, Oaxaca and Chiapas! I spent 1 month in mazatlan which at the moment is one of the more dangerous places, (one night i did here machine gun fire) but in saying that I travelled solo. Sometimes i rode at night (not my plan but it happened) i walked around at night by myself.
I parked my motorcycle on the street some nights (with a cable and lock).
There was never one time where i felt in Danger or nervous in any situations, the traffic was even better than i had expected! Given i did not go to mexico city!!
I just fined by the cops in Acapulco for not wearing a helmet, everyone does it but i got busted.
Just to sum it all up as i am sure hundreds of people have wrote, if you keep out of trouble take the normal precautions, most the violence is between cartels, cops, etc, etc, from my experience and after talking with a lot of back packers you will have more good experiences than bad.
That sounds terrible, but you need to understand that the vast majority of these murders involve people directly connected to the drug trade or law enforcement. You as a tourist passing through on your motorbike don't face anywhere near the same risk as those people.
Unfortunately the support vehicle driver following a group of motorcyclists in Mexico last month was kidnapped and everything taken. He was held hostage for several hours but released unharmed. One motorcyclist in the group was also chased. This was on the coast road north of Acapulco.
I have crossed Mexico 3 times in 3 years and it is a much scarier place now. But I agree with all the above. There are much worse dangers in the US!
But please be careful, observe the advice on US government websites, stick to daylight travel and don't be flash. Recently several commercial motorcycle tour companies have suspended their travel to Copper Canyon and the Acapulco and Manzanillo area. Go and look at their websites and do as they do.
But do go.
My fiance and I heard the exact same things from everyone in the US before we entered Mexico. "It's dangersous", "Your might get kidnapped/robbed/killed/etc", "Are you insane!?!"
We crossed at Nogales about a month ago and had no probs. The ride south through the desert was boring and uneventful. Yeah, plenty of military and cops about, but if anything, that made the scenery at least a little more interesting. We have traveled all the way through Mexico and are now in Tulum (going too fast, I know). We are also traveling in a Ural sidecar rig, so we tend to draw lots of attention.
To sum things up, we've had no problems at all, except from a couple of dodgy Pemex guys. As people have said before us, most of what you are hearing is US media hype. Don't sweat it and enjoy yourselves.
And by the way, if you do happen to pass through Mexico City, we highly recommend staying with Garry. Him and his wife Ivonne are fantastic hosts!
Thanks for the responses. I must say, its been hard to not get bogged down with all 'danger' hype, but we are about 2 days out from Nogales, and are optimistic about things. Thanks again for all your encouragement.
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