Is Mexico Safe?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Arte, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Arte

    Arte Pata de Perro

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,623
    Location:
    LEON, Gto. MEXICO
    FYI -
    Edited Sep -3, 2011

    " (1) México is dearly loved by the regulars on this thread. It is a country of breathtaking beauty and friendly people who will enrich your life for having met them. There are, however, some bad hombres and mujeres in the mix and, obviously, only you can decide whether a trip into Mexico is right for you.
    (2) Basic advice? Avoid riding at night and don't wander around in places your mom would not want you to be in, especially at night. Be respectful; don’t be a douche with an attitude. Watch out for loose livestock and topes.
    (3) Although there is much to gain from going through the entire thread you may want to consider posting your question at the tail end to get up-to-date perspectives from the regulars here.
    (4) Many of the regulars on this thread live in Mexico, have lived in Mexico or have crisscrossed Mexico from one end to the other and the thread also serves as a chat room of sorts while waiting for customers to drop by with questions. If you find this annoying, kindly go elsewhere. There are scads of sources on the web to find information on the Mexico “situation”.
    (5) All are warmly welcomed to influence the direction of the thread so constructive comments and suggestions are appreciated. However, if you come here to complain or just kick dust in people’s face, kindly go elsewhere; not every thread on ADV will please everyone so go find one that pleases you.
    (6) For best results, view this thread as you would a small town newspaper; some good stuff, some filler, some gossip, some trivia with a pretty darn good “ask the experts” column. There are semi-regular columns on motorcycles, Mexico roads & traffic norms, border crossing procedures, cigars, bbq, beer, and the appreciation of beauty, both natural and surgically enhanced.

    Bienvenido! "

    Edit Contribution by Weazybuddha - Thank you! -

    ========================================================

    In occasion of our almost 200 yrs Mexican independency anniversary; The tourism is being supported more than ever (promotion and security), and no one likes to mess with tourists, we all know they are huge money source to ramp up the poor economy situation.

    check some of Tamaulipas sites on this promotinal video, which is just at 3 to 4 hours from the TX border.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJvMJKDnGwc&feature=related

    you can check my last trip to see more pictures of the Zacaton area shown on the video.

    Now, you wanna some Mexico's unsafe places? well go outside at 2 am, walk by the "tolerance" areas and you might be at first row seat of non safe events.

    Arte
    #1
    et17smith, SandiaBMW and Drwnite like this.
  2. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,009
    Location:
    San Antonio
    Traveling in MEXICO

    The one question that is frequently asked and which was the foundation of this thread. It's typically in the back of almost everyone's mind:

    Editorial Intro: Is Mexico Really Safe?

    The following paragraphs are my op ed answer to that question. Here it is:

    There exists a broad spectrum of opinion out there as to just how dangerous Mexico is for the motorcycle traveler.

    Here in the Traveling in Mexico/"Is Mexico Safe?" thread (the title for some reason switches back and forth) we respect all opinions. And we don't care if you change horses in the middle of the stream, that is to say, you once thought it safe to ride there but have now decided to take a pause on travel south. That's fine. Or, maybe reading about the adventures of the regular posters here you decide to saddle up and see Mexico and/or points south. That's fine too.

    Many of us ride Mexico regularly. We love her people, her culture, her landscape, her food, her customs and often those things you just can't put your finger on. Most of us comment on how "safe" we feel once we cross the border out of the US of A and enter Mexico. There are some of us who only ride a couple of hundred kilometers inside the border, see a few things, and come home after a few days. Some, like Sjoerd, plot extensive routes inside Mexico and keep a history of off-the-beaten-path travels on a well worn map (he showed it to me at Casa Tricepilot). A lot of us have favorite areas of Mexico. Some of our current favs is the area surrounding Durango where SR lives, the area in and around Veracruz where MikeMike lives, and many of us enjoying my personal favorite part of Mexico, Oaxaca.

    Not one of the regulars here say that travel in Mexico by motorcycle is without risk. Mexico is indeed in the midst of a drug war and some would say in certain areas the climate borders on civil war. BUT, and the reader of this thread has to listen here, the task is to size up the risk individually and make a personal decision to go or stay home. My decision to ride through Mexico to Guatemala in January is not a signal to everyone else that the same decision is right for them. Once in Mexico, I generally do not go out late at night to parts of town I don't know and stay late into the night. Others have this practice, its just not normally mine. Different risk management choices. Some people take great pride in riding solo in Mexico. I have ridden many miles solo in Mexico. Whether you ride solo, with another rider, or in a group - your choice is right for you.

    Participation in this thread is not a stamp that those who regularly post here believe Mexico is without issues. Regular riders believe the risks can be managed and they press on. I have personally posted stories and follow-up commentary on those who have encountered danger in Mexico. I posted the letter to the editor of BMW ON magazine regarding the robbery near El Fuerte experienced by Tope_Stomper and her riding partners. The more we share these actual, credible experiences the more data points we have to use to make our go/no-go decisions and to adjust our habits and practices on the motorcycle should we decide to press on. Based upon her report, for example, several riders reengergized their practice of spreading money around their bikes and once again committed to carrying a "throw-away" wallet. Stories like hers have a definite home here in this thread. Also welcome is commentary by anyone who takes in such stories and changes their attitude about riding to Mexico.

    It is true that most of the posts here in this thread are by frequent Mexico riders. Out of that association a bond has grown and we look forward to hanging out at the "bar" so to speak and having a virtual coffee or beer together. And from that, many of us have met via this thread and have gone "downrange" across the Rio Bravo and gone exploring Mexico together. These days, what we often like to do is point the bike towards an expat's house in Mexico and go and enjoy their hospitality and share in the discoveries they've made and go meet and enjoy the friendship of their neighbors. We often meet here in virtual space to shoot the breeze, have a laugh, and do what most regulars do on all threads that have legs on ADV.

    Don't think that all the while, we're not keeping an eye ourselves on the news, the State Department warnings, intel from those living inside the country, and sending PMs to each other with "what do you think?" We keep in mind what we read from everyone here who post "this happened to me" stories. What is most useful, IMHO, are the local reports. Not the media, but stories and impressions of those who live in Mexico, who ride there frequently, and who can see past the media layering.

    What is not helpful here is the broad brush on Mexico, one way or the other. Certain posts in the past that included wording to the effect that Mexico "has the smell of death, eminating from its bowels" is a perfect example. This is disrespectful, untrue, insulting and does not make a contribution. We will address these posts and posters, and attempt to draw out a more meaningful dialog. By the same token, if anyone can send me a PM with a link to a post where a regular on this thread made any kind of statement that Mexico motorcycle travel is completely risk free and without concern, provide your address in that link and I'll send you a case of your favorite beer, and I will personally issue you a public nod that we haven't done our job here in our endeavors to keep perspective in balance.

    With those thoughts expressed, on to the free guide:

    Free MEXICO Guide

    I keep adding to and expanding this guide. If there is a topic you'd like to see added, send me a PM. The guide is as current as of the "Last Edited" date at the bottom of the post.

    Insurance for Mexico

    I recommend at least liability insurance and, depending upon your budget and desires, bumping this up to include full coverage on your bike.

    It used to be the case that you would not need to produce evidence of insurance while riding in Mexico unless and until you are involved in an accident and you are detained until guilt is sorted out. This has changed! Baja example: Prior to 2012, drivers were only required to demonstrate proof of financial responsibility if they were involved in an accident which caused damage to third parties. Before 2012, Mexican authorities would only ask for proof of liability insurance AFTER a driver was involved in an accident. Now, Baja police are authorized to request proof of Mexican liability insurance during any routine traffic stop, and they are authorized to ticket any vehicle which is not carrying Mexican liability insurance. Having insurance will pave the way to get you out of a jam and most underwriters include a bilingual attorney to represent you in a court of law. Other Mexican states are sure to follow suit! Remember! Mexico insurance is becoming mandatory in more places!

    I have for years used MexAdventure but there are other equally good companies who have been around a long time.

    A very huge side benefit of insurance is "Trip Protection" which varies by company but includes things like getting you and your bike to better places after an incident. Read carefully IN ADVANCE the language attached to any policy you may consider. The time to examine your policy is not roadside just after an accident!

    Another great company is Baja Bound Insurance

    Take a look at their fantastic list of FAQs on Mexico Insurance

    Note that liability limits for the 32 Mexican states have increased! Here's your chart:

    [​IMG]

    If you want to read more about these limits, and why they changed you can go to this LINK

    I also recommend MedJet air evacuation insurance. I will not travel in Mexico without it! It is good worldwide. If you are hospitalized in Mexico and need further hospital treatment back in the U.S., MedJet will come and get you and take you home in an air ambulance. If you don't think the cost of this coverage is worth it, consider the alternatives. If you ever need this type of service you will be glad you paid every penny of the premium. For an additional small fee, MedJet will also repatriate your motorcycle.

    Note: Be aware the MedJet has two key stipulations:

    (1) You have to be an inpatient at a medical care facility (not necessarily a hospital as we would define it). In other words, MedJet will not come pick you up roadside.

    (2) A doctor (or medical provider) must recommend that you receive continued care in another medical facility back home. In other words, MedJet won't come to Mexico, pick you up, and take you to an airport to watch you get in a cab. Remember: medical facility in Mexico to medical facility back home.

    [​IMG]

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    Mexico insurance underwriters such as HID Seguros, ACE Seguros, and ANA Seguros as brokered by Mexadventure also offer air evac coverage as part of their policy. Look for details under variously titled "Travel Assistance" packages sold as part of the policy.

    Mexadventure advertises: "Medical Evacuation Insurance and Plane Tickets Home are automatically included with our Mexican auto insurance policies"!

    FAQ: So, why bother with the extra expense of MedJet?

    Answer: If you need medical air evacuation, go with the pros whose job it is full time. Based in Atlanta, experienced on a daily basis doing this, always on their "A" game. When Whiskeysmith crashed in Mexico, and was hospitalized in Parral, we thought he had MedJet but all he had was Mexadventure's "Platinum" coverage which appeared to offer medical extraction as a bonus. I was on the phone with their rep all night long as was told to "call back tomorrow" - and this was a Spanish speaking operator in Mexico City. You want that when you are in a tough bind? I don't. Don't get me wrong, I've been with Mexadventure for years, and always go back to them. But I consider medical extraction by air the same way I do a parachute: you want some extra, seldom used, old model lying around the back of the hangar on your back when you jump? Or do you want the state-of-the-art, tested frequently, highly rated rig on the other end of the line when you pull the coord? Your body - Your money - Your choice.

    Having these coverages is an element to my Risk Management Strategy. Yours may be completely different. I can point you in the direction of riders who have been on both sides of this fence and their stories tend to back up my recommendation on this topic.

    Trip Planning for Mexico & Sjoerd's Guide

    Frequently we see posts asking for route suggestions and what-to-see type lists. All well and good but remember the typical novice mistake is to try to pack a hundred pounds of potatoes into a fifty pound sack. IMHO you're much better off with a general direction and a few highlights and then modify your daily itinerary to fit how things are going. It is a BIG MISTAKE to, let's say, arrive in San Miguel de Allende in the afternoon, hit a restaurant and a bar, and then shove off early the next morning. Mexico is if nothing else a destination to be savored, not approached like a cruise ship docking schedule.

    Here's a tip from RW66, our man in Zacatecas:

    A route planning tool for Mexico you might want to check out is Traza Tu Ruta (Trace Your Route). Just enter your Mexico state/city of origin and that of your destination, and click enter. (Note: most web browsers will offer to translate the page for you). The website provides a list of enroute points and other data.

    There exists a fine listing of hotels produced by our own Sjoerd Bakker which if nothing else should find a home in your tank bag. I don't care who you are you don't have the experience in Mexico that Sjoerd does so pay attention to his posts and send him a PM for specific advice about this or that Mexico state you are eyeing.

    When planning your trip leave out ideas about taking your sleeping bag and tent, for there is simply an overabundance of options on any given route. While you may be the type to carry an emergency bivy sack, you won't need your Yellowstone camping package in Mexico and with just a little thinking you can choose very affordable places to stay.

    The "Three Finger Rule" means when you hold you hand up to the horizon and the sun is about three fingers above, start thinking about your map and putting a close to the day. You certainly don't want to be riding at night in Mexico primarily due to livestock on the road and other road hazards, so operate in daylight and save dusk and night time for a cold Indio and some street tacos.

    Hands down the most knowledgeable and experienced Mexico traveler who is not from Mexico itself is ADV inmate Sjoerd Bakker, from Canada. Sjoerd has been on more hiways and byways of Mexico than anyone I know, and his depth of knowledge is unsurpassed. He has created a set of guidebooks, self-published, on economical hotels and travel in Mexico and Central America

    Where has Sjoerd been in Mexico? Take a look at his map:

    [​IMG]

    And that's a dated photo. He keeps adding to the routes he's been on. There isn't anyone more experienced in Mexico. Period.

    Here is the LINK to that guide

    Details on how to acquire his guide are at that link.

    Here's a tip on a great mod for Sjoerd's Guide:

    Temporary Vehicle Import Permits

    To operate your bike south of the border zone and outside Baja and the western part of Sonora state, you will need a TVIP. A TVIP can be obtained online or at a border aduana. You can PM me for details and advice about how to get a TVIP online. Documents you will need to obtain a TVIP either online or in person include the bike's "ownership document", which can be satisfied using either your title or state registration.

    For online TVIPs you can click HERE

    The "ownership document" and your passport, passport card or drivers license need to match each other. If you have a lien on the bike, you either need a letter from the lender stating you have permission to take the bike to Mexico, or select a document that does not reflect the lien.

    Note that Mexico now requires possession of a passport (or passport card) past the border zone. Since you need one of these to re-enter the US anyway, it's not an issue.

    Make sure when acquiring your TVIP that you pay attention to the length of validity, which should be 180 days (by law it must match the valid period of your tourist card). There have been anecdotal stories of riders being "asleep at the switch" as the TVIP is being prepared and finding out the official made it valid for only 30 days.

    Be sure to turn in, in other words, cancel, your TVIP as you exit Mexico, and do this prior the TVIP expiration, so as not to forfeit your TVIP deposit. You will have bonded your moto either by cash or by credit card up to an amount of $400 U.S. depending upon the age of the vehicle (see the chart) - so don't skip the cancellation process due to a fit of "border fever".

    No TVIP required in all of Baja and in the Sonora Free Zone:

    [​IMG]

    Vehicle Deposti Fees, payable by credit card or cash bond:

    2007 and newer models, USD $400.00 deposit required
    2001 - 2006 models, USD $300.00 deposit required
    models previous to 2000, USD $200.00 deposit required

    And as to the cost of the TVIP and the amount of money you tie up to bond the bike, there is no discount for paying in cash.

    [​IMG]

    As of this writing, your TVIP is tied to your passport (or passport card) number and your VIN number.

    You can aquire the TVIP online or at a border aduana, but to cancel it, you and the bike must both be present at a border aduana where the actual VIN on the bike will be examined and compared against the VIN on the TVIP itself.

    Most riders keep the TVIP hologram and the form it comes on safetly tucked away somewhere on the bike. There is currently no requirement to display the TVIP hologram sticker on your windscreen.

    Click LINK to understand the One TVIP Two Vehicles policy

    For questions about vehicle permits you can call Banjercito direct at 011-52-555-328-2329

    If you're thinking that the TVIP process is too complicated or that you might want to try to run the mainland without one, read the June 2014 experience of our man dimkick here.

    Tourist Cards

    Tourist cards (FMM) are required past the border zone and can be purchased for around $23 US. They are currently not tracked like TVIPs and are not bonded. Bear in mind that if you exit Mexico to the south via Guatemala, you must obtain a Mexico exit stamp in your passport before the Guatemala aduana will issue you an entrance stamp. To get the exit stamp in Mexico, your tourist card must have the payment receipt attached to it.

    Topes

    [​IMG]

    A Tope is in effect a speed bump, you'll hear the term "topes" all the time, because topes are all over the place in Mexico. They are commonly built before and in towns of all sizes, to control speed. They may be signed or not, tall, short, wide, narrow, and be made of asphalt (the familiar berm) or consist of low profile metal domes, or even ridge bumps. If hit at speed, they can, and have, thrown riders off their bikes.

    Here is a great shot from Jim, "Our Man in Mazatlán" (Going South) on what the "metal dome" topes look like:

    Ground clearance is an issue sometimes. Dual sport bikes with long travel suspension often have no issue with topes when taken at low speed. Sport bikes and cruisers can "bottom out" to the point that a hole is created in the oil pan or bash plate (I've seen it happen). Low clearance bikes sometimes take topes at an angle to assist with clearance.

    An ideal technique to deal with topes is first of all, to anticipate where they might be. Watch the behavior of traffic ahead of you to guage just how severe the tope is. I like to stand up in "topes zones" to stretch, but to also help the bike bounce over. Bending at the knees and elbows permits the bike full flexibility - take them slow and go with the flow.

    Good Topes News #1: Yes! There are good things about topes. They are great for slowing down big trucks so you may pass with ease. In twisty mountain sections it can be a challenge to pass large, slow trucks. When you come upon an ejido, all the trucks will have to reduce to a crawl, that's when you can blast by them.

    Good Topes News #2: Because traffic has to slow to a crawl over any typical size tope, you will often find folks selling everything from drinks to dried shrimp right there at the tope. You will have fun discovering just how many things are sold there on the street with traffic at a snail's pace in both directions. Observe people holding cans for donations to various causes as well. You may have your hands full with your motorcycle, and change not readily available, but the opportunity is there for a true Mexico version of "fast food!"

    Tip: I keep my jacket in my top case to help pack things down. Bouncing over topes can cause your valuables to jostle (is that the word?) around, and you want to avoid damage. However you pack, remember in Mexico that off the cuota it's never a smooth ride. Topes will shake things up, the more you do to keep things packed down, the better.

    Heed this advice about being careful with topes. Here's my buddy Turkeycreek, Tom, and his helmet showing the end result of hitting an unmarked tope at speed:

    [​IMG]

    I took this photo of Tom at his Hotel Los Arcos de Sonora in Banámichi, Sonora, in October 2013. This is a must visit place! Ask Tom to make you some of his adobe oven pizza!

    Be careful out there! Stay alert!



    Recommended Gear: Delorme inReach (#1) or SPOT Tracker (#2)

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    I started riding Mexico with a SPOT tracker, but now only take the Garmin (formerly Delorme) inReach SE.

    SPOT

    Here's a sample "breadcrumb trail" from last October's run through Sonora and the Copper Canyon and back through Texas:

    [​IMG]

    You are strongly encouraged to consider using a device such as a SPOT or inReach tracker, to keep family and friends aware of your location at all times. Your family will be able to track you in real time. Your current position will always be known.

    The latest tracking devices allow you to configure how many "pings" are sent at timed intervals.

    SPOT Unlimited Tracking:

    "Only available with SPOT Gen3. Unlimited Tracking allows you to choose your tracking rate. Before you go, program your SPOT to transmit a track message every 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. Unlimited Tracking doesn't stop until you do; with Unlimited Tracking your SPOT will continue to send Track Messages until you turn SPOT off or the batteries run out."

    SPOT Extreme Tracking:

    "Only available with SPOT Gen3. Get all of the great features of Unlimited Tracking but with the added ability to vary your track rate down to every 2 ½ minutes. Perfect for pilots and the ultra outdoor enthusiast"

    Like MedJet Assist, the cost may make this device seem like an unnecessary expense, but they are priceless when you need them.

    I have the Garmin Flex Plan which allows me to suspend service (and not get billed) during the months I am not using the service. Which are not that many.

    Tips and Tricks on Learning Spanish

    2018 update!: this section is now place carded, so to navigate to it, [​IMG]

    Photography in Mexico

    I very much recommend that you consider taking a small point & shoot (hereafter: P&S) camera with you to Mexico for the one reason that is my biggest tip in this department: unless your camera is out and is handy, you're going to miss a lot of photo opportunities for which you will kick yourself later.

    Staying on pavement, I've often kept a P&S on a lanyard around my neck. To make a quick stop while staying on the bike to grab a roadside pic, I've even gone to the point of wearing a fingerless glove on my (right) shooting hand.

    You're not going to get a lot of use from your camera if you have to stop, turn the bike off, get off the bike, open a pannier, get the camera, take off your gloves, grab the shot, put the camera away, lock the pannier, put your glove back on, and start the bike and go.

    You don't have to go out and buy a fancy camera. Unless you're going to publish to National Geographic, your existing camera, P&S or not, will be great, if you'll use it. Most of the time these days, your photos are going into a ride report or into Facebook anyways, so who really cares how many pixels a camera has. There are many existing P&S cameras that can do decent depth of field, and with a small portable tripod, night photography too.

    Motojournalism E-Book - Learn Motorcycle Travel Photography! By Antontrax

    In the link above you'll find my #1 recommended resource for moto related photography. One of the big take aways from that resource is this: you don't need a better camera, you need to be a better photographer. If you don't know how to frame a shot or use existing light, an expensive D3 isn't going to help you.

    The next thing I want to encourage you to think about is workflow. This means simply the major steps between photo capture and publishing. Often times this can simply mean camera - post processing - hosting - publishing. For ride report purposes, being familiar with your camera's exposure setting, doing some simple cropping and enhancing with Snapseed, and hosting on Smugmug, and adding links to your photos to your ride report can be a simple workflow solution.

    You may be taking an intermediate camera such as the Canon G16 or even a full frame DSLR on your trip to Mexico. There is no "best" camera - with a caveat:

    Just remember my #1 tip - whatever the camera, if it's not handy, you're not going to use it like you thought you would. Don't assume you'll just get the camera out at your hotel and go walking around. Since we're talking about motorcycle trips to Mexico here, you're going to be on your bike - a lot. You'll be passing things all the time you'll want a memory of. Roadside vistas, beautiful churches, interesting people, boats, statues, your riding buddies, what-have-you. A camera kept handy is a camera that will get used.

    Tip #2: My personal camera mantra is this: if your eye is drawn to it, take a photo of it. I remember my first trip to San Miguel de Allende. Walking down a street, my eye was drawn to an old wooden door with an ancient door knocker on it. I snapped a photo of that door. Then the one next to it, then I spent the late afternoon (when the light is the best in San Miguel) walking and snapping photos of all the doors I could find. That collection of photos is one of my favorites. It was after that trip that I consciously attempt to take a photo if my eye is drawn to something on a trip to Mexico (and elsewhere). You can go back and sort through your rough batch of photos and delete however many you wish, but you can't go back through your photos and make one appear that you wish you had taken.

    Tip#3: Did you know that Smugmug is owned by Baldy, the site owner of Adventure Rider? Smugmug is a pay site, ADV is free. If you enjoy ADV and need a photo hosting site, consider paying Baldy back by subscribing to Smugmug. And it isn't just doing him a favor, I can't think of a better hosting site than Smugmug, even if I wasn't on ADV. And a pay site isn't likely to go away anytime soon, certainly not as likely as a free site to disappear. So you're not at significant risk on "losing" your photo links in your ride report.

    FAQ: is taking a big, fancy DSLR going to make me into a "target"?

    Answer: IMHO, no. You're already somebody standing out. But think of it this way, only you can "sense" your surroundings. There are parts of San Antonio when my spidy senses kick in when I'm walking around with my D700 and a fat, long lens. Just use your common sense.

    Classic Mexico Ride Reports

    Title says it all. An appendix of links....links to some of the best all-time reads of travel in Mexico here on ADV and perhaps from elsewhere. Interesting places. Reports with great narrative and/or great photography. Pioneering women rider tales. Eye opening forays into one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse countries on earth - Mexico!

    Note: all ride report titles are active links to the actual ride report

    "No Te Ahuitas" Tour - Urique/Batopilas by Gaspipe

    Bruce's pioneering rides into back country Mexico are the stuff of legend. Check out his "threads started" list in his profile for a full list of his exploits. Why you want to check out this report: Everybody dreams of doing it Gaspipe's way.

    Motoventuring From Alaska to South America - A Collaborative Video Blog! by Becktastic

    Mexico is a ride through country for Bonzai Becky and Andrea. Pioneering report focusing on the use of videos to tell the tale. Andrea lost all her paperwork in Baja and had to have it all replaced. She prepared before the trip by learning motorcycle mechanics. Becky's videos are available on their YouTube page as well. Why you want to check out this report: Two spunky women combine talents and head south, what could be more interesting? Not much!

    Riding Little pigs in Baja! by rnrdozer

    This is the ride report that led me to buy my own KTM 500 and outfit it almost exactly like how Rich did it in this report. I traded a bunch of PMs with him in which he graciously helped me prioritize the build. Hint: go for the steering damper early on! A great Baja tale as well. Why you want to check out this report: How to build the perfect Baja bike and what to do with it.

    The Way South by rockymountainoyster

    Penned by our man in Telluride. A solo ride through Mexico, including passage through the Baja. A great read by a good friend. Why you want to check out this report: Not many of us has had the interesting life and career that David has had. See Mexico from the perspective of a man who knows half the icons in Hollywood.

    Mexico in Pictures by lexluther11

    Photography and ride reports go together like Salma Hayek and the Snake Dance. Mexico is one of the most diverse and beautiful countries in the world, don't blast through it without taking a camera and keeping it handy. Why you want to check out this report: Allow Lex to show you how beautiful Mexico is from the perspective of a talented lens man.

    Seattle to Argentina on a KLR650 by OZYMANDIAS

    For a long time, this 2006 ride report by Clayton Schwartz was stickied at the top of the ADV ride reports section. It was "released to float" in July of 2010. One of the most famous ride reports on ADV, not just in the Mexico category. A tale of lessons learned, a twist of fate, the risk of motorcycle travel, a mother's love, of life and loss. Ozy left for Argentina but only made it as far as Mexico before being airlifted home, paralyzed from the chest down. Why you want to check out this report: a young man's life is changed forever by a chance encounter with a donkey in Mexico.

    2 months in Mexico solo on a KLR... by Ideikis

    Luke's engaging story of taking everyman's motorcycle and meeting up with his woman in Mexico. Why you want to check out this report: see what happens to Luke's subframe and how he deals with it. My comments on this ride report back in 2009: LINK

    A tip from our man Sjoerd Bakker:

    "Somewhere on Mexico road wisdom I put up a post on this a few years ago .
    Basically if you see an Octogonal STOP sign Mexicans , even the cops , take it as optional to stop only if other traffic is coming . Other times that STOP sign may have an accompanying sign like a YIELD, Or you may see something like 1x1 with a YIELD ""CEDA EL PASO" meaning go " one by one " alternately taking turns from each direction. Then there are red/ green ONE WAY signs and street name signs like this:

    [​IMG]

    If you are coming down for example on Dominguez and face that red arrow sign YOU are obliged to stop and yield to traffic on Morelos. If you are coming down Morelos and come to the green Dominguez sign you have right of way. This sign also tells you that Morelos is ONE WAY and Dominguez has two- way traffic. The size and design of these signs varies so figure it out as you find them.

    Remember this and don't sail through every junction just because you see no Octogonal STOP sign."
    #2
  3. Arte

    Arte Pata de Perro

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,623
    Location:
    LEON, Gto. MEXICO
    #3
  4. varna2win

    varna2win Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    38
    Well, if you have to ride through Juarez or Tijuana to get to your safe place then I think the term," vaya con dios" is appropriate.
    #4
  5. acejones

    acejones Long timer

    Joined:
    May 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,437
    Location:
    MS. Gulf Coast and Puerto Vallarta, MX
    You ever ridden through those areas Varna2win ?
    #5
  6. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    La Paz, Baja California Sur
    You don't know what you're talking about. Oh wait, you must've read the LA Times editorials this morning at Starbucks? Would you care to compare rates of violence in TJ and LA over the last 30 days? I dare you!

    Riding thru TJ at night is no different than riding thru Compton or Watts at night. Pretty dumb thing to do so don't do it. Ride thru in broad daylight when the animals are sleeping and you having virtually nothing to fear.
    #6
  7. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,009
    Location:
    San Antonio
    Updated for 2018

    This post is place carded in the Mexico Guide at the very front of the Is Mexico Safe? thread (Post #1 & 2), and is merely an expansion of that Guide. ADV has a 40K character limit per post that I cannont get around, so I have had to move information down the posting succession in the Is Mexico Safe? thread to keep from running out of room in the original post.

    To quickly find the beginning of the Free MEXICO Guide, [​IMG]


    If you are interested in learning the Spanish language, why not get with it in 2018 and really amp up your ability to communicate!

    Editorial, updated for 2018. Back in the day I thought going to Spanish school in Mexico was my key to fluency. Read some books, try to remember high school Spanish, and carve out time on my Mexico travels to study Spanish. Even live with a Mexican family, what could be better than that?

    All well and good, but you can have all of this and more without leaving your living room and this means getting your Spanish down in advance and then you can concentrate on using your Spanish on the road when you're traveling to see the wide world and not sitting in a classroom. That's how the internet, YouTube, and video teleconferencing has changed the landscape.

    Think of it this way: If you're going to do a ride report from the road, and you're going to be gone for several or more months, then it makes sense to do your ride report tasks, which take a TON OF TIME, while you're out there in adventure mode.

    Same with Spanish school on the road - sure, if you're going to be out there for a long time and you think you can nail the right school for the right amount of time for the right amount of money, and you're willing to spend your precious travel time in a building and hope you hit the nail on the head, then it may be the answer.

    But when you consider you can electronically connect with an almost endless universe of language learning, including one on one personalized instruction, for a fraction of the cost, why would you not consider that?

    YouTube had become a phenomenon. There are many vehicles for learning Spanish that did not exist even 5 years ago. And the content is growing exponentially. I now people to grab a good Spanish grammar book (see below), get an idea of the mechanics of Spanish, then add in good online Spanish teaching (see below), and then if you're interest and motivation propels you, do online tutoring with a platform such as italki (see below). You can even do a one-two punch by doing all of this as well as going to Spanish school in Mexico if you like. For me, I'd rather spend my winter off the bike time learning Spanish, then take those skills with me on the road and really get around and explore. For me, I don't feel Spanish school is a magic bullet. It's not an injection that once you leave the building, you're this fluent Spanish speaking guy.

    Again, remember these are my opinions. If you disagree, well, then it's up to you to create your own post like this and change it to your specifications. Until then, you're here, and now you know how I roll. Good luck!

    "Realmente no importan esos errores pequeños, creo que al inicio es más importante enfocarse en vocabulario, estructuras gramaticales y conjugaciones básicas y con eso es suficiente para ser comprendido! Ya después, con el paso del tiempo, se pueden perfeccionar los pronombres, artículos, adverbios, preposiciones, que no afectan tanto la comprensión global de lo que se dice."

    - Andrea Díaz
    If you watch only ONE video in this entire post, let it be the one that follows. Why?, because it's a motivator and an answer to the most commonly asked question about learning Spanish.


    [​IMG]
    Here are my favorite YouTube channels with excellent content:

    Why Not Spanish? Maria and her husband Cody have a rockin' channel that you'll absolutely love. She is a Spanish language teacher from Colombia, and he is a gringo who met her while working on a cruise ship. Hip, enjoyable, and eclectic. Take advantage of the YouTube gear icon which lets you select a slower speed to play the videos if necessary.

    [​IMG]

    For the Why Not Spanish? YouTube channel, [​IMG]

    Señor Jordan. Señor Jordan is a Spanish teacher from Missouri and he was my original favorite YouTube Spanish teacher until the others joined him on my favorites list. A ton of great content heavily slanted on the grammar side of things. IMHO one has to understand the basics of grammar in Spanish to really make good progress beyond "dónde está el baño"

    [​IMG]

    For the Señor Jordan YouTube channel, [​IMG]

    Butterfly Spanish. Ana is a strong contender in this group even though her production value might not be as flashy as Maria's or Jordan's. She gets the job done and I think her content rounds out the other two and combined, really, it'll be all you need to navigate in Mexico and beyond. Check it out!

    [​IMG]

    For the Butterfly Spanish YouTube channel, [​IMG]

    The Spanish Dude. This one is growing on me and the format is somewhat unique. His dry humor style is catching, and I think you'll like it.

    [​IMG]

    "If you keep mastering specific situation after specific situation in Spanish before you know it you'll actually speak Spanish"

    - The Spanish Dude

    What he means is try learning Spanish dialed in to specific contexts like ordering food, buying bus or train tickets, or some oddball thing like making cookies. This helps you keep from "wandering all over the map with no purpose". It's good advice. Try looking at your day in micro situations and try in your mind to describe what you're doing. If you can't do that those are the areas you need to start with early in your journey, for they are the day to day routines that happen over and over.

    [​IMG]

    Click on the image below for some good perspective on why you should not believe that you need to be perfect before you open your mouth to speak in Mexico (or anywhere). Don't miss this video!!:

    [​IMG]


    For The Spanish Dude YouTube channel, [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    There is a super valuable website called

    [​IMG]
    That I highly suggest you open in a separate tab on your computer when watching the video channels. Especially useful for verb conjugations, but there are many other language learning features as well.

    For the SpanishDict website link, [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    For interactive Spanish learning with teachers and partners using modalities such as Skype:

    [​IMG]

    To navigate to the FluentU page, [​IMG]

    There you will find a bunch of different language exhanges online with native Spanish speakers around the world, both for free and paid. I personally started with italki, which you can find at italki.com or see the link below:

    The Art of Online Language Exchange with Skype

    Skype? Google Hangouts? Messenger? Whatsapp? What do I use to connect with people to learn Spanish.

    The Best Ways to Video Chat from Windows, Mac, iPhone, or Android

    ^^^Note: There is one error by the author in the above link in that Google's Duo app is cross platform, not Android to Android. And it may be my new favorite app of the all!

    [​IMG]
    In addition to videos and the website, there is one resource I value almost above all others when learning Spanish grammar, and that's this book:

    [​IMG]

    In my opinion, self study of Spanish Grammar is a critical component for understanding how to communicate, and this book is designed for you to learn and understand at your own pace. IMHO the five "key" verb tenses are present, past, imperfect, future, and the conditional. You can probably get away without the imperfect at first. This book will explain all of this and when combined with the videos above, will make perfect (no pun intended) sense.

    If you want to buy this book from Amazon, [​IMG]

    Here's one review from Amazon:

    "I had purchased other books on Spanish Grammar but was never totally satisfied until I found this gem. It presents Spanish Grammar in a simple, comprehensive style with clear explanations throughout, and because of its layout it can be used as a reference book, making it a reliable companion that students of any level would be happy to possess as they proceed through their language study programme.
    Nouns, adjectives, prepositions, - all the elements that form the backbone of a language are explained in depth by means of several examples and illustrations so that it becomes easy to absorb each concept effortlessly. `Por' and `para', the preterite and imperfect tenses plus other areas of difficulty are made clear.
    The book also contains a list of about 34 fully conjugated verbs and a section that indicates which preposition should follow each verb as a complement, in addition to explaining whether the indicative or subjective form should be used, based on the context. Also included is an area that focuses on self-correction techniques that allow the student to trace and diagnose their own errors and correct them, gaining self- confidence and becoming more self-reliant in the process.
    "Spanish Grammar for Independent Learners" is therefore like having 3 volumes in 1 and can be used by all students and lovers of Spanish, whether a beginner or advanced user."

    [​IMG]
    Mark (Misery Goat) goes to Spanish School on his epic ride to South America!

    For Mark's story and another person's insights to learning Spanish, [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    I wrote an article on using "canned" products for learning Spanish, such as Rosetta Stone, and the different types of learning modalities out there. For that, [​IMG]



    If you would like to make a contribution to this post, whether it be an experience, suggestion, or what-have-you, send me a PM
    #7
    KRob1 and thirsty 1 like this.
  8. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    La Paz, Baja California Sur
    One of these days I'm going to learn! Next time someone asks this question I'm going to tell them that the last time I went to Mexico my life was saved when the US State Dept. sent in Navy Seal Team Six to extricate me from the clutches of the vicious drug cartels of Gonzaga Bay.
    #8
  9. TomTom63

    TomTom63 Motorradfahrer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,622
    Cool video :thumb A me, me gusta mucho viajar a Mexico. Un pais con mucho corazon y alma ...:ricky
    <input id="gwProxy" type="hidden"><!--Session data--><input onclick="jsCall();" id="jsProxy" type="hidden">
    #9
  10. varna2win

    varna2win Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    38
    The beauty of ADV rider is if you make one comment in here everybody jumps on your ass. Maybe just maybe I don't know shit. One thing is for sure I'm not some candyass that rides a GS & drinks coffee at Starbucks. The Starbucks comment really pissed me off.
    #10
    530rider likes this.
  11. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,130
    Location:
    out and about
    Very creative....:D
    A good one.
    #11
  12. TomTom63

    TomTom63 Motorradfahrer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,622
    Why...? :dunno

    [​IMG]

    ...be a man, stand by your Starbucks :D
    <input id="gwProxy" type="hidden"><!--Session data--><input onclick="jsCall();" id="jsProxy" type="hidden">
    #12
  13. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,130
    Location:
    out and about
    It's been proven that caffeine kills penis cancer...
    #13
  14. Medic09

    Medic09 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    I'll admit my own wariness about Mexico.

    One of our flight crews (my usual partner and a different medic) went down to Mexico on a medical mission. Picked up a patient in a fairly small town to be brought to the US for specialty care unavailable there. On the way back to the airstrip, the ambulance stops and the driver gets out to hand a bunch of cash to someone by the roadside. A few minutes and kilometers later, he pulls over and tries to extort our medical crew. With a patient lying in the back. Didn't know our crew were military trained and unwilling to cooperate. The patient got to the US okay, but we now have orders to not go in to local hospitals on retrievals unless it is clear that the patient cannot be moved without us. This sort of incident has happened to other crews going down there, as well. Some US based flight medical crews won't even go into Mexico anymore.

    For what it is worth, we do NOT have these problems in the rest of Central and South America. Not even the cartel-ridden places like Columbia.

    So, for now, my wife and I are not riding down into Mexico on any vacations.
    #14
  15. Arte

    Arte Pata de Perro

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,623
    Location:
    LEON, Gto. MEXICO
    :dohPlease tell me that the military trained crew kicked big time that guy. if not, they should done something like Steven Seagal's bones breaking thing, so the next time dont dare mess with honest people.
    #15
  16. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,130
    Location:
    out and about
    My best buddy, along my son and his two daughters, are thinking about riding to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Fresno, Tucson, Houston, and maybe a run up tp St Louis, too. Is it safe for us to go there?
    #16
  17. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,130
    Location:
    out and about
    OK, I want to add New Orleans and Birmingham, AL.

    What about Jackson, MS as a stop over? Are we OK there?
    #17
  18. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    La Paz, Baja California Sur
    Vaya con Dios, amigo! :rofl

    I'd as soon go to hell as go to New Orleans or Birmingham. Oh wait, that is hell. Along with Biloxi, Miss. too!
    #18
  19. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    La Paz, Baja California Sur
    I apologize man, I didn't mean to do that and I appreciate your comments. I'll admit some raw frustration with people who know nothing about the subject telling other people who know nothing about the subject just how dangerous Mexico is.

    I'd go along with all the bullshit if it meant keeping more of California's fruits and nuts out of the place I love but the fact is that alot of Mexican families who rely on American tourists' dollars suffer from the non-stop LA Times propoganda.
    #19
    SkizzMan likes this.
  20. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,640
    Location:
    Mike's Sky Rancho
    I would much rather be just about anywhere in Mexico compared to downtown Memphis where I am sitting right now.

    Get away from the border towns (where people are sick of us spoiled Americans treating Mexico like our own personal dive bar) and you will be fine.

    I do not think you will find a more warm and friendly place or people than in the countryside of Mexico.
    #20
    Jammin and SkizzMan like this.