A climate of
fear and panic has seized our nation and has affected how we look
out at the world. What we
used to know as dependable and true has dissolved into chaos, and
transfixed US citizens are glued to their TV screens eager to find
out the latest debacle either politically, financially or
Is it no longer safe to take a trip to Mexico?
Let's take a look.
Many of our
readers have written to us asking about safety conditions in the
Land of Mananas. News reports fill the TV screen warning
would-be travelers not to venture into the nation south of our border due to
horrendous drug violence, kidnappings and who knows what else.
Cities such as Juarez,
Nogales and Tijuana are plagued with almost daily aggression between drug gangs
and Police. Tourists understandably do not want to be caught in the crossfire.
The U.S. Department of State has issued strong warnings against several
locations for annual college spring break trips to Mexico. “Know before you go!”
is good advice.
Billy and I have been spending time in
Mexico with various trips traveling by bus to
Beach and through
plus 600 miles up the western coast. No
doubt that what appears as naiveté bordering on simple mindedness has some of
our readers scratching their heads.
We have been
living in and traveling through Mexico since the 1970‘s. There have
Colonial Colonial cities, dazzling beaches, dusty and
downtrodden border towns, upscale expatriate enclaves, seemingly
endless mountains, lakes, and deserts. We have seen native peoples
weaving baskets and rugs, and have experienced inept government
bureaucracy. From staying in resort hotels to eating street foods I
would say we have a good bit of direct involvement and first hand
outdoor restaurant in
But do we know the future? Do we know what you should do? Of course
Fear versus Caution: Know the Difference.
A few years ago I read a book by
Gavin de Becker called The Gift of Fear.
Becker takes the position that violence isn’t just "random" and that clues and
access to information which can prevent us from becoming a victim is available
to us beforehand. He explains that caution is different than fear, with fear
actually being a gift that can save our lives. Gut instinct is much different
than an over-active imagination.
The information in this book is good, solid advice to use anywhere, including
your own home town.
A very high percentage of victims of violence will admit that they knew
"something wasn’t right" or that they felt strangely before violence struck.
They shushed themselves up and went ahead into the dangerous situation anyway.
In other words, we as human animals "know" but often don't take our warning
doesn’t normally happen to someone who looks confident, or appears
to know where they are going and walks with a purpose. Perpetrators
look for someone who is distracted or lost, seems weak, has their
purse, money bag or belongings helter-skelter while they are looking
at a map. They could have their hands full and generally they appear
worried or look down at the sidewalk when they walk. Criminals seek
the weak not the strong.
If you are lost or trying to get your bearings, step inside a
building and gather yourself, then go back onto the street.
Distraction or desperation brings with it a
high probability for trouble. Walk confidently and with a destination in mind.
Give the impression of being self-possessed when you are traveling and walking
around in unfamiliar locations.
Desperados don't want trouble, they want an easy take.
Common Sense Rules the Day
In most situations, using common sense is … well… common sense.
Keep a low profile, avoid being loud or argumentative, and if you meet friends
at a bar, don’t get so looped that you can’t find your way back home. Too much
alcohol consumption contributes to situations we call "leaving your brains at
the border." Keep a certain "situational awareness" about yourself at all times.
When street or
vendors ask politely "Where are you from? Where are you
staying? Where did you have dinner?" realize that they want to know this
information for a reason. Vendors have years of experience sizing up tourists in
order to estimate what price they might be able to extract from you for their
goods - they are not "just being friendly". When you divulge too much
information about yourself, your whereabouts and what kind of money you may be
carrying, you are clearly asking for trouble.
If you travel to
Mexico dripping of jewels, yielding loads of cash, staying in
high end resorts with a false sense of security, brandishing an attitude and
generally not aware of the impression you are giving to poorer locals, you are
setting yourself up to be a target for theft or worse.
Be willing to use all of your abilities -- the rational, conscious mind as well
as the subconscious mind which picks up hundreds of clues and processes
information more quickly than the rational mind is able to do.
Do not be taken in by a stranger in strange circumstances. If it walks like a
duck and quacks like a duck it’s probably a duck. Politely and quickly disengage
yourself from the situation and get out of harm’s way.
No one is telling you to throw caution to the wind. On the other
hand, if you never leave your 10 mile radius of daily travel in your
home town, you will be missing out on a whole lot of adventurous
opportunities. If you knew how dangerous it is to drive a car, and how
many deaths a year are related to motor vehicles, you might not go
to the grocery store. But more than likely most of you drive
somewhere every week. Do you realize you are taking your life in
your hands by doing this?
Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Yet you make those judgments every day
with confidence. You put things into perspective, you trust your
abilities and you go on living your life. Violence and the
unexpected can happen anywhere, including our
own home cities like Los Angeles, Toronto, Miami,
Winnipeg or Chicago. Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the
United States and
yet people travel there daily.
Going to Mexico or not are two sides of the
same coin. Some harbor angst about the Mexican side of the border and would never take the
chance of visiting. Then there are those who gleefully trade their homes and the
familiar surroundings in Canada or the US for a new lifestyle with tropical
sunshine and warm breezes.
Whether you decide to go
to Ole Mexico is up to you. But if you live too cautiously, you could miss out
on life enhancing adventures, something we're not ready to give up.