"Mexico" Mike - Ex-media spokesman, Mexico Tourism Ministry. Named Mexico expert by NY Times, Wall Street Journal, TX Monthly, Guardian (UK), Mexico City News, Atención (San Miguel de Allende)
Tamul waterfall near Cd. Valles, SLP
These are email comments from those who consulted with me before they drove to Mexico.
Before I begin the good news about safety, I'd be disingenuous if I didn't warn you of some areas that are best avoided for the time being.
Palenque to Ocosingo and on to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. Documented reports of old-time robbers - locals, not cartels. This comes and goes. Best to avoid in 2019. Take toll road from near Vilahermosa to Tuxtla and over to San Cristobal instead.
Cd. Mante, Tamaulipas. Kind of iffy right now.
Bottom of Copper Canyon. You are just fine in the tourist areas of Creel, Divisadero etc. You could possibly go to Batopilas, but I wouldn't recommend it. Any camping excursions off the beaten track are definitely a no-no.
Acapulco. Bimbo bread trucks won't go to parts of it.
The short version is that driving driving in Mexico is safe. If you read my web page, you will see that Mexico is safe. Sure, you could be in downtown Cancun or a Cabo beach and get caught in drug lord crossfire. But what are the odds? You could just as easily get shot or run over by a car anywhere in the world these days, including the USA. Don't let fear run your life. These people are representative of average people like you and me who drove to Mexico, had a good time and felt safe.
Here are the types of people who wrote these stories:
Motorcycle-riding couple - Buck was a first-time driver to Mexico. He and his wife went from Laredo to Tamazunchale and the Huasteca Potosina to Puebla and on to Oaxaca with a side trip to Mexico City on their motorcycle. They hired me for guidance and felt I would tell them the truth about whether it was safe to go or not. Together we planned a trip that took them to some beautiful places they never thought of going. They had a ball. But let Buck tell you:
"We are home with our cat and this is my last entry. This trip has been most wonderful (except for dealing with TSA in Phoenix!) and I would recommend it to anyone.
Many folks have said they are worried about security. Dottie and I never had one moment of worry, day or night, big town or small village. We have never felt safer anywhere. I actually bought a big chain for our bike but never took it out of the packaging. The police presence is a bit over the top actually. I've heard things were different 10 years ago or so. I wouldn't know.
People say you can't drink the water. That's crap. We eat salads and fresh fruit. We have ice in our drinks. We eat any and all food from anywhere. The locals drink bottled water just as we do. Dottie brushes her teeth with bottled water. That's hilarious. I use tap water. It is possible that some folks might have more sensitive stomachs than us. We abuse our digestive system at every opportunity.
I love this place and it's people and really don't want to mention anything negative. But driving here is ... Different. It's fun but you must be very observant. For example there are quite a few missing manhole covers in the city. The 1st time I saw one of those my heart stopped. There are lane dividers that will put a bike down fast. They are not marked or even painted. And the Topes (speed bumps) ... Nobody that hasn't been here can imagine.
You simply cannot drive at night We did it because we were starving, and I was prettified.
Let's not forget. Mexico is VERY affordable. So come on down!" - Buck Swafford.
Missionary in Reynosa (border town) - George is a missionary in the border town of Reynosa (near where I live). If you believe the news reports, Reynosa is the site of 24-hour daily running gun battles. This is his own, honest story:
"Let me tell you an absolutely true story. Last year, we were working at a church near Colonia Benito Juarez. My son was there with his wife and our 3 grandkids. They were driving 2 15 passenger vans, with blackened windows. One day, they were followed to the work site and pulled over by 3 armed men in a pickup, just as I pulled in. My son leaned out his window and said, "a Dad, something us going on with that pickup truck". I got out of the car and walked over to the truck. The driver asked me who they were and what they were doing. I explained they were an American mission team, helping to rebuild a church. His exact response was, "We are very sorry to have bothered you." I spoke to them a little longer about the project and told him the only problem we were having was the fear of our materials being stolen, and that the pastor slept in the open, mostly awake all night to stand guard. He told me that wouldn't be necessary anymore. From that might on, for the next week and a half, he posted 2 of his men at the corner guarding our stuff so the pastor could get some sleep.
How's that for a verifiable story?!?!?" - George Waterman.
Overwhelmed With Help On The Highway - Hola a Todos! After a long, hot trip (We don't ever have to drive through West Texas again), we have arrived at our destination. We didn't see or experience any crime or bad guys, just lots of police and military patrolling the highways. All the authorities we interacted with were professional and polite. We did have one problem though. About 2 hours north of San Miguel de Allende we were cruising down the highway when the truck suddenly died. We coasted onto the shoulder, and within 20 minutes a father and a son stopped to offer help, then two Federal Police, then two highway workers, then a Green Angel.
The tourism department of Mexico has a program called Angeles Verdes. They are mechanics who drive the roads of Mexico in green and white pickups helping stranded motorists. Our particular Green Angel, Javier, first used his pickup to push our pickup up and over a hill and down to a rest stop. Then he tested the electrical system to determine the problem, which was the alternator had died. He removed the alternator, and he and I drove into the nearby town of San Louis Potosi. Even though it was Sunday afternoon and 90% of the businesses were closed, there was an alternator repair shop open. Yes, an alternator repair shop, that's all they do. Try to find that in the U.S.
They replaced the broken parts and had us on our way within the hour. Javier drove us back to the truck and replaced the alternator. All at no charge (I gave him a hefty tip). The repaired alternator cost a third of what a new one would cost. And 4 hours after the truck died, we continued on our way to San Miguel. There are no shortage of bad guys in Mexico, but all we met were good people. Que se vayan bien, Rob
A Woman Alone - I arrived at my destination safely and your info was soooo helpful. thank you Twilla - Twilla Cauldron (she drove alone).
Regular Drivers to Lake Chapala - Just thought I would let you know that we traveled two times between Harlingen TX. and Chapala MX May, and July, once with our motorhome. No problems, crossed at Pharr, down 97 and on to Cd. Victoria, Tula, San Louis P., No problems what so ever. Roy
French Canadian Family of 7 - Marie France - she and her husband and their 5 kids drove all over Mexico. These are some of her comments:
Hello Dear Mike, We are back home since Friday. We had a wonderful trip to Mexico and I really fell in love with that country. Nothing bad happen in Mexico all good things! Ironically, we were robbed in our home! So bad people are everywhere!!! Nothing serious, don't worry.
Since I sent you an e-mail, we were in Tula, Tequisquiapan, Bernal, Querétaro, SMA, Guanajuato, SLP, Real de Catorce and crossed the border at Reynosa. We were stopped by the army 4 times and they didn't even ask for our passports!
Eventually, I will make a report of the hotels we stayed in, maybe you can use it. But for the moment, I just want to let you know of a few things that may be useful for your consultation. It is just our opinion though:
1- The road 175 from Talacotapan to Oaxaca is wonderful but it took us 11 hours to arrive!!! 2 hours for 40 km, curvas peligrosas everywhere!
2- In Villa de Reyes, we had the chance to visit the ex-hacienda where Zorro was filmed, it was fantastic. A guy named Jeraldo took 2 hours of his time to make a tour. It was very educational and interesting. They are renovating the hacienda and they hope to have an hotel, rest. in one year (Mexican year!!!) He charged 25 pesos each!
3 - In Real de Catorce we did horseback riding, it was FANTASTIC and SCARY!!! Not for everyone. We were so afraid to fall and so amaze at the same time! It is dangerous and people that are scared of heights or don't trust horses should not do it. My husband is always calm but in Rio de Catorce he was really stressed out!!!
4 - On your map of Monterrey, Toreon and Tampico, you have a little box about Huasteca Canyon. We went there... OMG!!! Once again, we had mixed feelings. It was fantastic, spectacular, wonderful, breathtaking BUT scary, dangerous, stressful!! Half the time, the road on our right wasn't there (wash out, rocks, water). It took us 2h45.
We are glad we saw that, but not sure it's for everybody! I will really miss Mexico and the Mexicans. I will have to wait a few years before I go back, but I WILL!
Thank you so much again, all your papers were useful even though we had too much. You were so right, our itinerary was too ambitious but we did a lot. Thanks again for Rudy's contact. He is amazing and what he does is humble. We will remember those 2 days forever. We will stay in touch with him and try to continue to make a little difference in those lives Ciao! MF
Her first message:
> -----Original Message----- > From: MF  > Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 6:15 AM > To: Mexico Mike > Subject: What a trip! > >
Dear Mike > We are in Mexico since July 7, We crossed the border at Brownsville > and did not have any trouble (we did not give the letter for the car > and they did not for it) We stayed at hotel Valles all together, they > managed to put more bed in the room, really nice place. We went to > Xilitla and Las Pozas. Nice town and we had so much fun swimming > there!
For the last 2 days we were with Rudy and had the experience of > a lifetime. We were so lucky. We swam in a creek where no tourists > went before, not even you!
At the where we were they were celebrating > an apostle and they had voladores from Hidalgo, We went to see the village where they make piñatas. They gave us one! Can you imagine! > To much to say. I wanted to thank you a million time, Mexicans are so > nice and Mexico is wonderful! > You can see us on FB and you'll see us having a great time! > > Muchas gracias, > > Marie-France=
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