My husband and I just returned from our vacation to Cancun, Mexico.
“Mexico?” you may have exclaimed. “But it’s so dangerous right now!”
That was the line I was getting from pretty much everyone I told about our trip. Recent incidents of violence—attacks on tourists, kidnappings, assaults, drug related murders, and so forth—have been making headlines all over the world and have given the country a bad reputation.
Before the trip, everyone was giving me advice. Don’t leave the resort. Don’t go to the city. Don’t show off your wealth. Don’t go anywhere alone. Pretend you live there (though how I was supposed to blend in with my pasty Canadian winter complexion I have no idea.) I started reading articles about the various incidents, and my fears grew. Not only did I have to worry about not drinking the water, but I also had to watch my back every second!
I was anxious, to say the least. I’d tried to reassure myself that it was all just media hype; that a few isolated incidents didn’t mean anything in a country that sees more than 21.5 million international tourists every year. A lot of the more heinous crimes happened in the big cities and on the U.S.-Mexican border, after all, and most were gang-related. I told myself as long as I didn’t go wandering alone at night into clearly marked gang territory, I’d be fine.
Turns out I was right. And we had a fantastic time!
Cancun is like a Mexican version of Las Vegas, built up and modernized with enormous resort hotels, gorgeous white-sand beaches, tons of tourist traps, and hordes of people selling local crafts. There are police everywhere, and even specially designated tourist police (whether you find that a comfort is up to you.) The locals are helpful and friendly and speak English. And everywhere you go in the Hotel Zone, there are always other tourists around. Frankly, the most dangerous thing that could have happened to us was getting suckered by pushy souvenir vendors.
We didn’t feel unsafe at all, but we took plenty of precautions wherever we went, booking hotel-approved tours and taking the guides’ advice about what not to do. As long as we stuck to the rules and didn’t do anything stupid, we were fine.
It just goes to show, you can’t believe everything you read, or judge a whole country based on what happens in a handful of cities.
Is there someplace in the world you’ve always wanted to visit, but have been afraid to go because of things you’ve read? Comment below!