Is Mexico Safe?

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

  1. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,447
    Location:
    Canada eh?
    Well, I am home again, arrived a couple days ago. I was happy to be home, of course. I was gone a month and amassed 12,000 kilometers in that time. I tried to learn as much Spanish as possible before hand, but I had no one to practice with, and, I am a poor student.

    It took a looong time of highway riding to get to the mx/us border. I found it much more tiring on the bmw as opposed to my Hayabusa . I generally don't mind lots of highway riding, I can always amuse myself somehow, I find what gets hauled on the back of transports always interesting...lol....and the highway is a necessary evil.

    Crossing the border was a little confusing, as no one spoke English and didn't attempt to. But eventually, everything was in order. We were warned to not take the route to China from a employee at the mcallen bike shop, but we took it anyway, albeit quickly and with no stops.

    Reynosawas was my first exposure to mx driving and I actually found it pretty fun. The rules seemed to go out the Window. Chaos but I enjoyed it. Later on riding through the busy cities, I realized that everyone was avoiding me, not the other way around. I found it a challenge to navigate, get lost, watch for hotel signs, topes, people, animals, traffic, street signs and various other diversions at the end of a day of riding when you are at your most hot and tired.

    You curse and sweat and breathe fumes and go around the block yet again, but then you are finally stopped , bags off and showered and ready to see the town. I found I intensely disliked the bigger cities, Rio Verde, cuidad Valles, even Linares. I decided if I would go somewhere depending on the size and color of the dot on my map. Small and colorless was what I was looking for. A square with a solid dot...not so much.

    I rode with a partner part of the way. We both decided we did not enjoy the cities. Galeana and Dr. Arroyo was just about the right speed. Small and friendly, with a smaller community spirit. The zocalos were always lovely and we'll tended no matter where we were.

    Big rattlesnake sunning itself on the road in the mountains towards Galeana! Exciting stuff! I found the hotels to be a mixed bag of unexpected-Ness. One place might be a dive for 350 pesos and the next,terrific for 250. Where are all the toilet seats in mexico? My quads now look like Tom plat z!

    I found it unsufferably hot. I was drinking, but my klim didn't vent enough to battle the heat, but apparently there was a bit of a heat wave going on, even the locals commented on how hot it was. Between the heat and the fumes from the cars and traffic, I found I was quite nauseous a fair amount.

    I ran into a problem with my bank card, it wouldn't work in most of the bank machines, even if it had the plus symbol on it...and I was almost out of money. That was an issue I hadn't expected, as my bank assured me it would work " everywhere" in mx, not the case. The were always long lineups at atms I found, another unexpected thing.

    Or the atm would be out of money, otherwise just technical difficulties. When I finally was able to secure a working atm, I took out the maximum.

    I enjoyed oaxaca, it was bigger than I had expected, but I found the constant cacophony overwhelming for this gal from a very small Ontario hamlet. Where I live there are practically no ethnic people. Just a whole lot of white folks.

    The various squares were lovely, of course, but again, the constant presence and pressure from the street sellers soured it somewhat. I WAS fascinated by the "shoeshiners". They all had their own method, all incredibly efficient, a ballet of brushes, cloths, shoe strings , and softly murmured words between client and proprietor. Always with the days paper in hand, shaken out, slightly crumpled pages rhythmically turning, then folded with a light snap and placed gently on the ground for the next client to skim through. I was enthralled.

    The same for the fruit cup vendors. The slicing and dicing, the placement of the fruit just so, into the cup, then when a customer choose one, it was enhanced with various colors and flavors and perhaps, squirms of this or that, then in one smooth move, the cup is handed over, with a napkin that always seemed to appear as if by magic, where did that spoon come from? and without missing a beat, onto the next request. Pure theatre's, at least for me.

    Always children running happily, mostly unsupervised, sometimes falling, but no one seemed wound up over "srangers" or helicopter parenting thier little ones that is so prevalent here. I didn't see anything other than happy relaxed families enjoying a night out in the square, sharing some stories and laughs, usually with a band playing on the bandstand.

    I found that was lacking in the bigger cities, the squares lacked that community feel that last likes. I spent a few hours walking around Santana Anna? In the mountains on 85, a wonderful mountain road. Such a mix of rural and village right there. Pigs in yards, horses tethered to the front door, goats being herded along, small narrow winding streets leading to another mystery, it was great!


    The toll road to oaxaca was a surprise, well worth the ride. So high up!

    I found I didn't like the food very much, or maybe I was to cautious about what to eat, but I was hungry a lot. I did eat some street food, of course, and we ate at an excellent restaurant in Rio Verde, very good. When ever I had eggs, they were delicious. I also got a touch of tourist a from eating at a "nice" restaurant. I just would go into my grab bag and take 2 pepto bismol,2 gravel, and 2 immodium, lay down for a couple hours, drink some water and I was good to go.

    I found on my map, not the guia roji, but my international traveller's map, what was on the street sign and what was on my map were very different which led to a few wrong ways. The numbers were different, by a lot, actually.

    Oh, I found in Texas, that my poly cotton clothes were soaked with sweat and I bought some wiki type, easy wash, quick dry clothes, which I washed a night and wore the next day. The poly cotton stuff was so unsuitable, I found anyway. Which meant I hardly touched most of my clothes.

    Yes..... I way over packed but I was going from very cold Canada to very hot mexico back to cold Canada. Having never ridden that far south, I didn't know what I was going to run into, and I had brought some nicer clothes to walk around in at night so I wouldn't look like shlumpy tourist.

    When home, I took my 40 litre dry bag and filled it with everything I hadn't used or had used a max of 3 times, I overfilled that 40 litre bag and it must have weighed at leat 10 lbs. At least.

    I was always soooo saddened to see the stray dogs, always looking for a kind touch a a scrap of food. So, so sad, they were always so gentle and grateful for some gentle attention. I was puzzled by the thousands of unfinished buildings everywhere. Why? Just thousands of them and piles of rubble.

    I enjoyed my trip to mexico but I think if I go again, I would have an entirely different experience. I would learn more Spanish, take more cash with me, or be prepared and not leave it so late, and I would pack waaaaay less. I may even consider taking the bus a, with some modifications as I THINK, if I chose my roads carefully, it might be doable. MIGHT be doable....

    The thumper was tiring, not my steed of choice. The only thing that would hinder my returning would be the long ride from 2 hours east of Toronto to mexico itself. It eats up soooo much time. I was gone a month and it wasn't enough time. I would also not worry so much about leaving my bike on the street, there are some towns and villages where I did leave it out and I wasn't concerned at all. I don't ride with the presumption that people are just waiting to steal from me as soon as my back is turned. I prefer to believe in the goodness of people, everywhere, and treat my environment in a suspicious manner. Which doesn't mean I am foolhardy or foolish though.

    Oh my.....before I forget, on my way back to my room after following yet AONOTHER parade and band in oaxaca, I passed a Latin dance studio where class was in session. I watched for a few minutes and then impulsively joined in. For the next hour, I danced with a young handsome Mexican with lots of fun, missed dance steps, and much laughter,

    viva mexico!
  2. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,334
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    Sounds like a great trip. Do come back and keep coming back.

    Well done
  3. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,447
    Location:
    Canada eh?
    Re-reading my post, I can see where my tablet did some auto- correct, but I think you guys are savvy enough to figure out what I am trying to say......aren't you....?...:norton
  4. acejones

    acejones Long timer

    Joined:
    May 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,394
    Location:
    MS. Gulf Coast
    I have noticed that there are only a few ATM's in Puerto Vallarta where Canadian cards work. I expect that's true of a lot of Mexico.
  5. SR

    SR Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,042
    Location:
    Western, Mexico
    A few shots from nice Saturday afternoon ride.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  6. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,974
    Location:
    West Texas
    Did you get a FMF pipe on the WR?
  7. SR

    SR Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,042
    Location:
    Western, Mexico
    Yep. I put the FMF pipe on, took a giant restrictor plate out of the air intake box and re-tuned the EFI for uncorked. It gained at least 20% more power in one day. It's a whole different bike!:D
  8. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,974
    Location:
    West Texas
    I figured you'd eventually do that. I bet that was a nice feeling having the motor free to breathe.
  9. TRAVELGUY

    TRAVELGUY Old Traveler

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    728
    Location:
    Georgetown, In / Costa Rica
    Used this border crossing into Baja a few months ago, really easy, helpful personnel. Nice not needing a TVIV for Baja but I have a question. Is it correct that if staying only three days or less you don't need a VISA for Baja and if your plans changed for a day or two would that really create a problem?

    Have probably done more than two dozen border crossings in Central America but continually stay screwed up on what is necessary for Baja.

    Planning on going down to watch the Baja 500.

    Thanks for your help!

    TravelGuy
  10. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,334
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    The rules say you need a visa to be in Mexico for more than a day or 2. In areas where you do not need a permiso (TVIP) like Baja or the Sonora Free Zone, you can frequently just ride into Mexico without stopping. The odds are that you can spend your entire trip in Baja without a visa and won't have a problem. Unless you have an accident, need to file a police report, get a traffic ticket or otherwise have to interface with the government. Even then, you may not have a problem.

    I know people (gringos) where I am living in Sonora who don't have a visa or papers for their vehicles and have not had them for years. We are not in the free zone but we are just outside and off the federal highways so rarely see federal police here. I only know of 1 gringo in my 6 and a half years here who has had a car seized for no TVIP and that was at a tax checkpoint.

    That said, the rules and the enforcement of the rules change frequently. You can take your chances and likely be OK. But a free 7 day visa is easy to get.

    It seems the rules here are fluid much of the time.
  11. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,842
    Location:
    Austin, Tx.
    Arrived Mexico City last Wednesday afternoon. Took Thursday off from riding to catch up with friends.

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1400512046.883842.jpg

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Plenty of tacos, of course.

    [​IMG]

    Try "El Primo" in Tlalnepantla for great seafood.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These candies contain tequila. Yum!

    [​IMG]

    Then off to Veracruz Friday morning to get registered for Sol a Sol with MikeMike. (Pico de Orizaba gave me a peek en route)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The route (more or less)

    [​IMG]
    (Feext)

    Leaving Veracruz Sat am with Mike Mike & Mystery Rider

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Assorted pix from the event and Sunday's return. An impromptu high-speed turns clinic was conducted both days.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A cyclist surrendering to the sag truck along the route

    [​IMG]

    Popo commemorated the event with a puff of smoke

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    MikeMike & Mystery Rider

    [​IMG]

    I was honored to become a member of the Seal Club upon our return to Veracruz. Momma's so proud of her boy.

    [​IMG]

    First to sign the revered "club".

    [​IMG]

    View from the Rivoli this morning. You can see the Port of Veracruz in the distance

    [​IMG]

    Rivoli's service elevator goes down an extra floor. Will cross-post on "Only In Mexico" thread

    [​IMG]
  12. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,974
    Location:
    West Texas
    :freaky
    Wish I were there and on that ride.
  13. MysteryRider

    MysteryRider Laughing at danger

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    949
    Location:
    Veracruz, Ver. Mexico
    Peanuts! I knew we forgot something!:D
    If this keeps up, we will need to find a new windshield to scratch.:freaky

    Schizz and MikeMike: Great ride! I enjoyed every minute of it. :wink:
  14. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,842
    Location:
    Austin, Tx.
    My Seal Club experience has been life-changing. I don't have the words. Thanks guys. A million times over.

    Might wanna call the service guy on that vending machine, however. I first pulled the knob for the Damitol but nothing dropped so I settled for the other. Not that I really care.....any more......
  15. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,842
    Location:
    Austin, Tx.
    Throw in with us next year. Maybe then we can run down the elusive "Fast Rider Group". I never did catch those guys. ;)
  16. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,842
    Location:
    Austin, Tx.
    After several days of Ricky Racing and general Hooliganism I dialed it waaaay back today and allowed myself to enjoy every vista, every climate change. Rode through several climate zones with temps ranging from 60 - 90 F. No rain or fog. Took MikeMike's recommended route to Papantla. Thanks Mike!!

    View from the Veracruz City coast road this morning.

    [​IMG]

    Some pix from today's route.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Stopped to use this outhouse only to pass a brand new Pemex a few miles later.

    [​IMG]

    A lotta this

    [​IMG]

    Picturesque finca

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's Sjoerd's pick for a Papantla hotel. $200 pesos without AC, $400 with. Well located. Has everything. People running it are nice. Just off the main plaza. They close the drive-in entrance at night.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    La Parroquia was recommended for dinner by the mercado folks. Good call!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow, El Tajin.
  17. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,842
    Location:
    Austin, Tx.
    As I was walking El Centro (Papantla) last night some guy driving the other way recognized the shirt and called out to me. Had hoped to connect with another rider but that was it.

    The people I do encounter express amazement that I rode all the way from Austin. One can only wonder what they must think of RTW riders.
  18. dwj - Donnie

    dwj - Donnie Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    15,330
    Location:
    Traveling on the Moto or Escuitla, Chiapas, Mexico

    I have actually ran across s few Convenience Stores with free restrooms on this ride, that is certainly a change! I strongly dislike having to pay 2 to 5 pesos to use the restroom where I just purchased fuel!

    A 100% increase in the room rate for the addition of air conditioning!. I know the electricity rates increase per KW for the more you use, but I still don't understand the $8 US plus premium for air conditioning in many places.

    Do they make you wear shirts like that when you buy a new Beemer? :huh

    Oh! Nice ride! :D
  19. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,452
    Re: bump up in room price for air conditioning .
    As explained to me by a hotel keeper in Belize, having to run
    ac does draw a good bit of electricity and when tourists come
    in they often behave in considerately . They figure since they pay
    for it they can crank it on to full freezer mode and leave it on
    all the time even when they are out of the room the full day . Or they leave doors and windows open to adjust temperature.
    I don't know how Mexican electricity rates are structured but like Ontario
    there may be different rates for different periods of the day and weekends.

    If a room with a fan is 200 pesos it is a bargain compared to US price levels but costs still need to be recovered when ac is added .
    AC is a bit of a luxury though. If one gets acclimatized and develops a bit of tolerance it is in most location possible to sleep very comfortably with simply a ceiling fan or standing fan to provide constant air movement .Your experience may differ temps always drop some during the night and I have no trouble sleeping if it is 30C and I have a fan blowing .
    If a room is hermetically sealed and I am forced to use AC it can get stuffy and
    too cold causing painful joints
  20. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,334
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    At Los Arcos, electricity is our biggest line item. Electricity is subsidized for residential but commercial gets hammered. The subsidy is 50%. We appreciate guests turning the A/C off when they leave.