It has been nearly 14 months since we crossed the border south into Mexico. Nearly 14 months of fascinating history, delicious food, gorgeous countryside, and friendly people. Nearly 14 months and thousands of miles covering all of Baja and the vast majority of the mainland. During our time there, we have been disheartened again and again with the negative media regarding this most beloved destination. The myths of Mexico as highlighted in the media are profound.
We meet very few Americans and, those that are in attendance, are generally the heartier souls at the beginning of their long drive down the Pan American highway. Before we left we faced the questions…. is it safe? Are you sure you can’t just ship around Mexico? Of course, we ignored all naysayers and headed across the border for one of the best years of our lives.
We meet many a Canadian, entire campgrounds of them. A good percentage of travelers we encounter are European fully committed to ignoring the naysayers in the news. To be sure. Mexico has its problems. The ongoing cartel wars and border disputes will likely never end. The government is no stranger to protests of corruption. Crime does exist.
However, in looking at the statistics and in our own experience, we feel far safer in Mexico than in the United States. The difference? A large percentage of homicides are due to the drug wars and, quite frankly, if you aren’t involved in said activities your odds of being in danger are lower than in the US.
This last month the government spiked the tax on gas causing tales of gas shortages, lines, closed stations, rioting and protests. Did they exist? Of course they did. But as with most media crazes the drama was far less widespread than reported upon and for the most part ended quickly. As an example, during the time of the protests and rioting, we drove from the Guatemala Border to San Cristobal. Then to the coast at Veracruz. Inland to Puebla and San Miguel and then north to Zacatecas and Durango before heading west to Mazatlan.
Throughout those few weeks and thousands of miles crisscrossing the country we saw not one closed gas station, gas lines, protest or riot. Nor did any of the dozens of other travelers we spoke to. Now, before the comments begin let me just reiterate that these events did occur. Mostly in Mexico City. And yet, people were literally leaving Mexico early, or avoiding coming in at all, because of the overly dramatized reports while we continued to enjoy one of our favorite countries with no issues.
I write this now overlooking the tranquil Sea of Cortez, contemplating the past 14 months. We visited astonishing sites, both ancient and new. We ate ourselves silly with some of the most delicious food on the planet, most of it extremely inexpensive. We spent time with friends and family and also met dozens of wonderful new friends. We went from sea level to 10,000 feet and navigated at least 4 billion topes.
In all of those months and miles we have been stopped at countless military checkpoints and several times by the police, who simply wanted to say hi and shake our hands. Just once, ONCE, were we been shaken down for a bribe, and we have never felt anything close to danger.
I end this with a quote from our friend Nathan of the Wand’rlys who recently shared his thoughts on the ridiculous wall and immigration ban on Facebook~
“Sure, there are drug wars and assholes in Mexico. There are gang members and cartel nutjobs, thieves and liars. All of those things apply to our entire government, both Republicans and Democrats alike, though. The real people of Mexico could teach each and everyone of us a lesson in what is actually valuable in life.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.