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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 19 Sep 2011
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Safe traveling in Mexico right now?

Hi everyone,
I'm planing to ride from San Francisco, leave in november, to South America, going through Mexico, obviousely. Baja and then zig zag through Mexico on to Guatemala. Now I just talked to a friend from Arizona and she highly recommends not to go because of the gang wars and people getting kidnapped and killed. She sounded serious and cancelled their mexican beach holidays.
Has anyone any very recent information regarding safety in Mexico?

Thanks, Helly
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  #2  
Old 19 Sep 2011
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My friend tells me New Zealand is dangerous because she saw horrible earthquake damage on the news last year. Should I avoid traveling to Nelson? Just kidding. But that is what your question reminded me of.

Yes, the drug gang violence is there in Mexico. It is reported in the US newspapers and on TV. But lets face it, sensational headlines sell newspapers and get you to read ads. I know people who canceled their New Zealand vacation plans because they saw sensational footage of earthquake damage in Christchurch. I just rolled my eyes in disbelief. New Zealand is a big country. Why not try the north island if you are afraid of Christchurch aftershocks. And Mexico is the same. Why not avoid the big cities and border towns where the violence is being reported. Mexico is a HUGE country with many friendly people and wonderful things to see and do.

So I imagine your friend in Arizona is reading the news and it scares her. The reason more people don't travel from the US to south of the border is because their friends who read newspapers tell them it is dangerous. Which is fine by me, since it is less crowded and keeps the prices down.

The thing is, there is violence in Arizona as well. Yet your friend still lives there and gets in her car and drives around. When I was in Arizona last year a crazy guy shot the Arizona representative to US Congress in the parking lot of a grocery store down the street from where I was staying on my way to Mexico. I felt safer riding through rural Mexico last year than downtown Phoenix.

But come on! You're from EnZed. Kiwis are some of the toughest, most fearless travellers I have met. Who else eats muttonburgers and camps on a beach covered in sandflies? Mexico is cake in comparison.

Heck yes, its dangerous to travel on a motorcycle from the US to South America. Anybody that tries to tell you different is deluded. So what? Its a hoot!

Not to say you shouldn't avoid riding through the big Mexican border towns at night when the gang shootouts usually occur. And it would be prudent to avoid the big cities and stick to the rural mellow areas.

As we say in the rural north central US: Buck up buckwheat. (perjorative slang for strength and courage).

P.S. I Love Nelson. It was one of my favorite areas when traveling in NZ. Did a farm stay and spent my time remodeling the farm kitchen instead of working in the orchard in autumn (March). Wired the kitchen lights and plugs. Had to go to the government to get 220 wiring and switchs since they weren't sold commercially in stores. We flip the light switch up to turn it on and you flip the switch down to turn it on. We walk on the right hand side of the sidewalk. You walk on the left. I kept bumping into people until I figured it out. We go around roundabouts counterclockwise. You go around roundabouts clockwise. That nearly killed me. Finally learned to always keep my right shoulder next to the centerline. In fact I think riding on the left in New Zealand is probably more dangerous than riding in Mexico for a slow witted chap like me.

Cheers,
John Downs
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Last edited by John Downs; 19 Sep 2011 at 06:38.
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  #3  
Old 19 Sep 2011
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Mexico City

I agree with everything said except avoiding the big cities. Mexico City is one of the world's largest cities and really shouldn't be missed. We have great museums, restaurants, shops and a beautiful downtown area. If you want to come we can probably put you up and show you around just pm us or post here and we can fix it up.
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  #4  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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Mexico trip cancelled

Thank you John Downs and Garry Dymond for your reply and point of view.
After doing a bit more research plus another very strong warning from my friend in Arizona, her brother works for the border intelligence service, I decided to cancel my trip through mexico. Too much potential for violence on the road. One concern is that drug gangs do do road blockages, dressed as military personal, kidnap, steal and sometimes do organ removal. Life seems to be not worth much to some gangs. Also there is a strong travel warning on the canadian govt. site that suggests not to travel to mexico or if you have to, use only planes for traveling. All that adds up to me not really wanting to ride my bike in that kind of environment.
I've changed the shipping of my bike to Lima and start there my 6-12 month journey there.

Ciao, Helly
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  #5  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helly View Post
Thank you John Downs and Garry Dymond for your reply and point of view.
After doing a bit more research plus another very strong warning from my friend in Arizona, her brother works for the border intelligence service, I decided to cancel my trip through mexico. Too much potential for violence on the road. One concern is that drug gangs do do road blockages, dressed as military personal, kidnap, steal and sometimes do organ removal. Life seems to be not worth much to some gangs. Also there is a strong travel warning on the canadian govt. site that suggests not to travel to mexico or if you have to, use only planes for traveling. All that adds up to me not really wanting to ride my bike in that kind of environment.
I've changed the shipping of my bike to Lima and start there my 6-12 month journey there.

Ciao, Helly
Don't be daft !

Did you miss read the above posts ?

Mexico is as safe as any where else you intend travelling. Just choose a border crossing, get a 100Ks past it and relax.

Do *not* bypass Mexico. It is a beautiful country full of good people.

You can get shot in LA/New York etc etc, just as easily.

We did 3.5 weeks in Mexico last year (and went to see Garry in Mexico City). All military stops were real ones.

*No* problems.

The US/Canada gov warnings need reading carefully.

eg: The US site warned that if we went to Lago De Atitlan (Guatemala) the road was closed and the "back" road was full of bandits.

As it turned out the back road had been tarmac'd and was patrolled by police because of these stupid false warnings.

If we had not gone, we would have missed a great experience.

You are missing a great country and a great trip.
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  #6  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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It's disturbing how much scare-mongering goes on. It's not just an American thing either - I think every government does it, either through wanting to 'err on the side of caution' or something more sinister (making the grass seem greener on this side of the fence).

I've never seen anything in the European press about forced organ removal, although we did have some pretty graphic reports of people being disemboweled for opposing drug gangs in Mex.
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  #7  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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I think we sometimes forget that "adventure travel" ...or whatever we want to call it means different things to different people. To some it might mean flying to Cancun and going on a bus tour and to others it might mean rolling our eyes at the exaggerated news reports and rumors loosely based on some isolated events, and heading out anyway. To others it might mean going into active war zones.

We're all at a different "level" when it comes to travel. But it still saddens me when someone decides to bypass an absolutely amazing country due to internal drug violence, not directed at travellers, and exaggerated news reports. I found Mexico to be one of the highlights of my visit ...from the lonely, rugged stretches in the north, to the central colonial cities filled with hospitable people, to the culturally rich south, to the long stretches of Pacific coastline. I'd go back in a heartbeat to meet more of these wonderful people.

By going directly to Lima you'd also be missing the very interesting and friendly Central American countries. Guatemala is one of these small countries jam packed with wonderful discoveries around just about every bend. I too was warned not to stray from the Pan American there. Of course I ignored the scare mongering and explored the back roads around Lago Atitlan and found them to be absolutely spectacular, not to mention quite thrilling on a motorbike. Not once did I feel threatened or in danger while travelling in Mexico (6 times via various methods) and Central America.


...Michelle
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  #8  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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totals US vs Mexico

Mexico - est. 35K drug related murders in 3-4 year period

USA - est. 14K+ murders EVERY YEAR

4 divided in 35K equals 8.75K.....Mexico


GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL USA !


http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cr...ers-per-capita

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cr...-with-firearms

Last edited by Zigeuner53; 22 Sep 2011 at 16:53. Reason: stats
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  #9  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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I honestly think that the vast majority of the folks murdered in Mexico the last few years have been involved in the drug trade in some way. If you are a tourist passing through, stay away from the drug scene, and use a bit of common sense, Mexico is still a relatively safe place. I can't see how Lima is really all that much safer than a large city in Mexico.

And besides, this is -motorcycle- touring we're talking about. I think that dealing with crazy drivers and city traffic poses a far, far greater danger than being mistakenly shot at by drug dealers.
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  #10  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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I live on the border mostly

at Palomas Mexico

the official word from people I know who may be involved with the Narcos is that, 'seguro' (for sure) in Palomas, it's hand's off the Gringos, and no dealing drugs in town to them...otherwise you get buried with 19 others about 5 miles south of town...

..same people have told me that this is SOP for all of Mexico...don't kill tourist, don't deal drugs to them...it brings the military in hot n heavy -
and they shoot back.

I think except for the small time crooks and snatch thieves, Mexico is safer than Detroit.

Zig
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  #11  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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Originally Posted by bclarke View Post
I honestly think that the vast majority of the folks murdered in Mexico the last few years have been involved in the drug trade in some way. If you are a tourist passing through, stay away from the drug scene, and use a bit of common sense, Mexico is still a relatively safe place. I can't see how Lima is really all that much safer than a large city in Mexico.

And besides, this is -motorcycle- touring we're talking about. I think that dealing with crazy drivers and city traffic poses a far, far greater danger than being mistakenly shot at by drug dealers.
Aren't the Shining Path still active in Peru ?

He'd better miss that then.

And I heard the FARC are up to tricks again in Columbia, then they have all those nasty road blocks in Bolivia.

If he goes straight to Chile he should be ok there, except in Punta Arenas where there seems to be some shooting of Prostitutes going on.

And he won't want to go to Argentina, all the police are corrupt there (apparently :-) )
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  #12  
Old 22 Sep 2011
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Me and my wife are riding two up around the world. Currently we are in Mexico and it just so happened that we stayed in Veracruz two nights ago only a few miles away from where they dumped the 35 bodies. We only found out the next day when I was reading the paper. Even with all that going on we don't feel that Mexico is more dangerous to travel than anywhere else in the world. The people are friendly and helpful. Of course you need to use common scene just like anywhere else. I must say that we felt more worried driving through some neighbourhoods in the US than driving around Mexico. The element of crime is everywhere so don't let that stop you, just get out there and enjoy the world, you are the lucky one being able to do so having the means and the freedom to venture wherever you want to.

Mark
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  #13  
Old 24 Sep 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helly View Post
Hi everyone,
I'm planing to ride from San Francisco, leave in november, to South America, going through Mexico, obviousely. Baja and then zig zag through Mexico on to Guatemala. Now I just talked to a friend from Arizona and she highly recommends not to go because of the gang wars and people getting kidnapped and killed. She sounded serious and cancelled their mexican beach holidays.
Has anyone any very recent information regarding safety in Mexico?

Thanks, Helly
Hi Helly,

I live in Leon, Mexico (Central Mexico), Before I live in Monterrey, Mexico (North East)
I agree with all how says Don´t avoid Mexico... Its a matter of be aware. Its more danger to be hitted by a Car that to have a Holdup with a gun.

Going to Sturgis this year, in a secundary road a crazy guy liteeraly try to run my bike and me off the road, almost killed me...So you know how important is to be aware when you are riding in traffic....
In this roas there were no cars, but this truck almos killed me...

In Mexico, now is not recomended to ride at night. But I can tell for sure that the sates in North Mexico like Chihuahua, Coahulia, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, MUST BE AVOIDED.
If You are coming from San Francisco, You can Cross Tijuana, and go all the Baja to La Paz, take the ferry to Mazatlan, and go down to Guadalajara Jalisco, where you can make a very nice and beautyfull stop in Puerto Vallarta, and after Tequila, Jalisco
From Jalisco all the way down is Mexico, City, Oaxaca, Chiapas, all this places and roads are in great condition and secure..
If you want more information or routes, I will be glad to help you or any one else.

I have ride for 16 years Alaska, USA, Europe, México... and what kill is distraction and be hited by a car, NOT A GUN...
Only Bikers Know more about security than people reading news in there office..
Dont stop being a Biker, I trust more on comments likeKusi1 and other Bikers, than the news...

Forget Shipping to LIMA AND ENJOY THE EARTH....

JOEL
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Old 25 Sep 2011
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Mehiko

I've worked in Emergency Departments for years. The most common place for somebody to be when their illness or accident occurred was "lying on the couch" (usually a heart attack). Think about it.
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  #15  
Old 25 Sep 2011
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Ok that's it

I'm selling my couch.
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