Part 2: Traveling Into and Around Mexico
Famous for its immaculate beaches, archaeological ruins, and enchanting colonial cities, Mexico has everything from stunning natural scenery to romantic architectural landmarks. A fascinating people and a rich culture add to the irresistible charms of this great nation. Many historical sites in Mexico are maintained at world-class standards but enjoyed at a fraction of the cost of European or American attractions. Unfortunately, many Americans and Canadians fear for their safety while traveling in Mexico, thus preventing them from experiencing this exciting country. This misplaced fear stems from the fact that Mexico is a developing country that is quite different from the United States. But different does not mean unsafe.
Statistically speaking, Mexico is a very safe country for visitors. Most of the crime in Mexico is drug-related and concentrated in a few areas near the border like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Ninety-five percent of Mexico is as safe as ninety-five percent of the US or Canada. Visitors to Mexico are not targets of public violence. But just like in other travel destinations, every visitor should watch out for petty theft or property crimes. There are pickpockets in Mexico in the same way that that there are pickpockets in Paris, the world’s leading travel destination. As Edward Hasbrouck, author of “The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World”, puts it, “the biggest danger for a law-abiding traveler in Mexico is probably the same as the big danger in the US – road crashes. everything else is negligible by comparison. ”
For a safe trip to Mexico, you should begin by choosing a safe yet exciting destination like the quaint Mexican towns located in the center heartland. Unlike the well-known beach destinations, these lesser known destinations offer you an authentic experience of the Mexican way of life. Best of all, these off-the-beaten-path attractions tend to be safer, cheaper, and less crowded.
One fine example of romantic “old Mexico” is the city of Guanajuato. Set in the rolling highlands of Central Mexico, this UNESCO World Heritage site has one of the best-preserved colonial architecture in the country. Guanajuato was built on the intense wealth derived from huge deposits of silver min within its area during the mid 16th century. Traces of its opulence are still visible today in the baroque buildings, aristocratic haciendas, a magnificent basilica and churches, impressive plazas, and colorful homes perched on hillsides or along cobblestone streets. These colonial elements blend well with organic urban structures like narrow passageways, underground tunnels, an opera house, museums, art galleries and cafes. With friendly and accommodating residents, Guanajuato is a pleasant and safe city for visitors.
Visiting Guanajuato is guaranteed to be an unforgettable and enriching experience for you. To keep you safe through your trip, you need to properly plan before leaving and observe the following safety precautions while traveling into and around Mexico:
- Travel during daylight. As much as possible, schedule your departures and arrivals during daytime. If you must travel at night, be sure to keep the main roads and well-lighted places.
- Keep an eye on your luggage and handbags at all times. If you need help from porters, make sure that they have badges and IDs. If your luggage is checked or stored, remember to get the luggage receipt. Never accept packages from persons you do not know.
- Use official transport services. In major cities, use official taxis (Taxis Autorizados) and avoid non-authorized cabs (piratas). There are official taxi counters in the airports and bus stations. Within the city, refrain from flagging taxis down the street. Ask your hotel or lodging host to call a cab via phone (radio taxicabs) for you and they may take note of the taxi license number and driver’s name. Once inside the taxi, make sure that the driver has his permission on display. For buses, stick to the first-class lines, since these buses take the toll roads (cuota) which are faster and smoother. The second- and third-class buses traverse the free highways (libre) that are slower, bumpier, and more exposed to petty crime.
- Drive safely. If you are driving your car or renting a vehicle in Mexico, remember that most Mexican roads are not up to US standards with respect to smoothness, hardness, width, curvature, grade, or safety marksings. The Mexican driving style may be more spirited, so use extreme caution and strictly observe traffic laws. Do not drive at night if possible. You do not want to get lost in an unfamiliar area at night.
- Stay in smaller inns, B & Bs, and owner-managed vacation rentals since these establishments give a more personalized service compared to the big hotel chains. In smaller establishments, the hosts or owners will remember your name, your preferences, your schedules, etc. They will typically engage you in friendly conversations, and these are perfect opportunities for you to learn about the place you are visiting. Being locals in the area, they can give you advices on places to avoid, the best possible routes to take, etc. They are the best up-to-date source of tips in the area that guidebooks can not provide.
- Inform your hosts about your expected arrival times. In smaller inns, the hotel staff and owners tend to be better at keeping tabs on when you leave the hotel and your expected arrival times. They can easily sound an alert and notify authorities if you are not back when expected.
Throughout your trip in Mexico, you are going to be mobile much of the time. Mobility may expose you to some risks other safety measures are taken. With a well thought out itinerary, good preparation, alertness, caution, and prudence, you will arrive at your destination and return home safely.
Source by MK Anderson