After all the Mexico-praising posts I wrote, I want you to know I’m not denying the issue of safety that exists in the country.
Mexico´s homicide rate is skyrocketing. More than 30.000 people were killed in 2018, numbers that weren´t reached since 1997. Rates are rising as well in before inviolated, touristic areas like Quintana Roo. Mexico as a bridge between South America and the United States is the scene of bloody fights between the cartels over drug trafficking routes.
(related articles: https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2018/05/09/why-mexicos-murder-rate-is-soaring, https://globalnews.ca/tag/mexico-crime/, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/23/mexico-crime-homicides-violence-up-report)
Although nobody can or should deny those facts, I’ll try to explain you why I still felt way safer than I expected.
Before I went to Mexico I’ve heard two completely different things about the safety there. One being from colleagues of my parents who travelled and lived in Mexico for business reasons. They told them things like “The country is way to dangerous, don’t let your daughter go. When I was there, there were shootings in front of the office. You couldn’t go out of the house!”
The other feedback, coming from exchange students who went to Mexico before me, said “If you follow some rules, you won’t have any problems.”
I didn’t quite understand how the opinions of people who all knew what they were talking about could be so incredibly different! I decided to go see myself.
When I came to Mexico I was extremely careful and worried even during the day. I first learned that at daytime there is no reason to be scared at all. Then it’s basically like in every other country and if you follow your prudence and stay in “normal” areas you won’t have any problems.
In five months in which I was both a student and a tourist on my several trips, absolutely nothing happened to me and there were very few situations in which I felt unsafe.
I’m convinced this is due to three things:
- Some simple rules I followed. I talk about them closely here.
- The accommodations I stayed at. I think the area and security of your “temporary home” is one of the most critical factors if it’s about your overall feeling of safeness. Whenever I chose a Hostel I payed special attention to its rating for safety and location.
- The people I surrounded myself with. I try to travel and spend time with people I trust and who take care of each other. A thing I personally enjoyed a lot in Mexico and that made me feel very safe was that people are extremely caring, even if they don’t know you. For example if you’re alone, at the end of your trip Uber drivers would wait until you entered the building.
Generally in Mexico I had the feeling in any situation someone would be there to help. One time for example our car broke down. Immediately there were three people checking it and giving us instructions about what to do! According to my experience this effect even accelerates if you’re a female solo traveller.
I think those three factors are as well the explanation for the different feedbacks I got before coming. As a business man you probably won’t have the time to learn the “rules” you should follow for every country you visit. Your hotel would likely be located closest to the airport, train station or your company, but not necessarily in the nicest and safest area. And you might travel alone or with business partners who don’t really care about you.
As a student or traveller on the other hand you’d inform yourself about the country before coming, you’d chose a safe and maybe touristic area to stay in and you’d most probably make friends quickly!
I’m not saying the situation in Mexico is perfect. I’m saying you shouldn’t let news and statistics keep you from visiting this beautiful, multifaceted country.