Solo Riding in Mexico...Safe???

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Merf88, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. Merf88

    Merf88 Adventurer

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    Living in Arizona, you'd think I'd be the one to chime in on this thread. However, I have not ridden in Mexico in three years. Most of my riding consists of extended solo rides. With the increased drug-related border violence, I am looking for first-hand experience with south-of-the border excursions. Anyone done any solo rides in Mexico in the last year?
    #1
  2. Lano

    Lano I was so much older then

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    I rode the Rio Sonora down to Hermosillo, then across the Sierra Madres to Creel. Came back up thru Juarez. Personally, I had no problems. Never felt like I was in a bad situation. I did not tarry in Juarez however. Spent a night in Banamichi, one in Yecora, and three in Creel. This was very early in the year. Hope someone chimes in on lately.
    #2
  3. dtop1

    dtop1 Long timer

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    In Mar/Apr I did a 5-week, solo ride to Durango, San Luis Potosi, Xilitla, Pachuca, Orizaba, and a bunch of other places w/o any problems. This coming Jan. I'm doing another solo, 5-week ride more on the Pacific side. I've been riding 10,000+ miles per year mostly solo in Mexico for years and have never had a problem. That's not to say that there aren't dangerous areas in Mexico, some of which are far from the border, but a solo rider riding in the daytime generally will not be bothered by anyone. I have a lot of Mexican friends who ride and they tell me the same thing. Dan
    #3
  4. octagonpilot

    octagonpilot _________________

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    How big of an impediment is it to hit mexico, solo, without being able to speak a lick spanish? I have been to mexico many times, but always to the tourist spots where the language barrier is no dig deal, so I'm curious what that is like in other, less touristy areas.

    Thx
    #4
  5. Lano

    Lano I was so much older then

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    I've tried to learn Spanish for years. I can almost massacre the language now! I can't converse intelligently but can make my way. Learn the essential phrases and use them. The people down there will help you. Once away from the border you will be surprised how fast you run out of the English language. Don't let it scare you. Be advised that not speaking the language will "mark" you for the tourist rates.
    #5
  6. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    The answer to that question is rhetorical: it depends upon how the individual perceives and then tackles perceived impediments in life.

    But to give you a practical place to start, simply carry an inexpensive Franklin electronic spanish-english translator, and at least you'll be able to mash out enough language to fill in the gaps. You'll certainly be able to process enough to have a very enjoyable experience.

    Language and travel: it's like anything else. The more you put into learning [spanish], the more you'll get out of your travels. Enjoying the people you meet, logistics of travel, information from museums, all of it.

    WARNING: I bet that you do go, despite your concerns, and then find out that it wasn't an impediment at all, and then you're hooked and can't get enough of Mexico and Latin America. So don't be surprised. You're on the cusp of a great adventure :wave
    #6
  7. randyisanomad

    randyisanomad Adventurer

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    I spent 6 weeks solo in Mexico (Mid-Sep to Nov 1st or so.) The biggest dangers in my opinion are: unmarked topes (speedbumps), impatient drivers (you'll be amazed what they think is safe following distance, or enough room to pass), and livestock. Danger from violence never even enters the mind compared to those other threats.

    Not speaking Spanish is a pain (as mentioned earlier) but you can get around.
    #7
  8. Cheetaz

    Cheetaz Overland Expo

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    I travel frequently by vehicle in Sonora and have yet to come across any danger other than what's been mentioned: livestock, topes (speed bumps from hell) and crazy drivers (but no worse than Los Angeles).

    Folks who live there will tell you the narcotraficante folks are on the increase in the north, but in general if you don't drive around at night (mostly for the livestock) and don't hang out in trouble areas like Juarez / Tijuana / Culiacan etc. (check other threads for the worst cities or heavy drug towns) you should do great. Mexico is amazingly friendly!

    That said, there is always a potential for trouble - anywhere. Out where I live west of Tucson we have smuggling-related violence all around - at least a body a month is found in the desert out here (citing the bullet wound to the head, the police always say, "foul play suspected") and within a mile of my house there are trees festooned with women's undergarments - called rape trees because the migrant smugglers are getting increasingly violent toward their charges, and brag about their terrible crimes using the trees as trophy displays . . . horrible. And this is in the U.S.!

    So don't worry about Mexico in general - have a great time.

    I'm planning a solo ride on my NX250 from Tucson to Queretero for an intensive Spanish class there. My biggest concern is not so much drogeros but the crazy drivers and the double-remolques (those double trailer semis).
    #8
  9. Cheetaz

    Cheetaz Overland Expo

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    Totally do-able - take a dictionary. People there are SO friendly. It's very unlike U.S. cities where people live very insular existences. The hospitality is amazing in Mexico.
    #9
  10. rpilottx

    rpilottx Long timer

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    Well, I live in El Paso. Ciudad Juarez is 10 miles from my house. So far in 2009 over 2200 people have been killed. Now El Paso was just labeled the "second safest large city in the US". Go figure.

    I really enjoy Copper Canyon and was down there recently. There is a larger force of military and federales and more frequent check points. However, if you avoid Juarez and Chihuahua your chances of encountering any problems is minimal (except for previously mentioned topes, livestock, trucks without brake lights-DON'T RIDE AT NIGHT).
    #10
  11. Merf88

    Merf88 Adventurer

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    I appreciate the various perspectives on this. It all helps.
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  12. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

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    I've never even one time in all my travels to Mexico (from Tijuana to Belize) felt the threat of violence.

    Well, okay one time it did feel weird. Get this, my bro and I are staying in Rosarito Beach for the night on the way to Baja. We are literally the only people staying in that big, huge hotel with like 1,000 rooms on 15 floors on the beach as you enter town (not the big orange one by Carlos 'n Charleys - this one is twice that size). It already felt like Twilight Zone since the place was blacked out and was virtually abandoned except for us and the guy at the desk. Well, we go out and "have a few" and watch the political parades of hundreds of vehicles on the main drag honking and yelling for their particular candidate. One we noticed that seemed to be most popular was a guy named Nacho Garcia and he looked like a typical, sleazy uber-corrupt Mexican politician on all the posters. As we stumble thru the bario back to the hotel we notice at least a dozen pickups parked in front of the hotel with about 25-30 men standing around the courtyard in the front and they get real quiet as we walk toward the lobby. Then I notice that they have various weapons; shotguns, handguns, assault rifles, and GET THIS: Nacho Garcia is standing right in the middle of them looking right at us!! :eek1 I mouthed to my bro like a ventriloquist "That is Nacho f***ing Garcia. Look as drunk and gringo as you possibly can!" :lol3 :lol3 We got inside and stayed inside for the rest of the night. Those guys looked mean and trigger-happy fo sho!
    #12
  13. Pedro Navaja

    Pedro Navaja Long timer

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    I ride solo into Mexico. See the three ride reports in my sigtag. Not all my rides are listed.
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  14. Uglyprimate

    Uglyprimate UglyPirate

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    I've ridden solo through Chicago.

    Mexico is quite tame by comparison.

    If you don't have the language skills, it's easy to carry a small translation dictionary. The locals will appreciate the effort.
    #14
  15. bouldergeek

    bouldergeek Filthy, poor KLR dweeb

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    I think that Randyisanomad and others gave all of the right information, above.

    I have been in Mexico more or less solo for six weeks, and between Mexico and southern Panama consistently since July 5th. Not once have I been threatened, or had any security issues. My GPS and SPOT have been on my bike and able to have been removed by hand, while sometimes parked in open lots, sidewalks and city streets. Even I am surprised nobody took anything. Perhaps they have been reading my posts on how unreliable the 2720 has been for me. :lol3

    Early in the trip, when Zentropa and I had just exited Copper Canyon via Choix (and were not molested by narcos, to the surprise of the locals), we spent a night in Culiacan. We shared a fantastic room in one of the nicest hotels for 500 pesos, and had some of the best street food. Chatting with the locals was easy, and everyone seemed content. Only later did I realize that it was the hub of Sinaloa narco leadership and control. To the clueless tourist, it was a nice town with great people.

    Watch for all manner of animals, don't ride at night, don't carry drugs or firearms, smile when you mangle Spanish. All will be fine.
    #15
  16. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    :rofl :rofl :rofl
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  17. Pedro Navaja

    Pedro Navaja Long timer

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    You are kidding...you didn't know that ahead of time? :D

    Read The Queen of the South when you get back. It's been translated into English.
    #17
  18. rossphoto

    rossphoto GDTRFB

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    Ive done Mexico and Guatemala solo twice and just goy back from a solo trip from Chicago straight through Mex and Central America then all the way to Ushuaia. IT WAS AWESOME. I had more problems and hassles coming back home to the states.

    Best advice is watch for the topes and don't drive at night...

    Your gonna have a great time. If you can check out Guanajuato and if you can make it way south there some of the best roads on earth to ride are between Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido or Puerto Angel...
    #18
  19. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    So Ross, where's the Europe, Vietnam, or Ushuaia ride reports?

    :ddog

    :freaky
    #19
  20. Dr. Benny

    Dr. Benny Enjoying the Journey

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