Thursday, May 31, 2012

Viva con precaucion

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!


Rogenna Brewer said...

Morning, Vicki. there's a whole lot of places I'd like to visit, but it's time and money that keeps me from going vs. any stories I've heard.

The older I get, though, the more I'd like to do an Eastern European tour to discover my roots. Apparently, that term is widely disparate and according to Wikipedia even the UN, European Union and the CIA fact book can't agree what countries make up that block.

For me lets just say I'd like to visit Austria, Switzerland and Germany most of all. And perhaps Russia and Poland.

The funny thing is I was at the doctor's office the other day (new insurance, so lots of questions) and the male nurse asked me my ethnicity.

I said Caucasian (race) since that's usually the only option available and he said, no, repeating ethnicity. So I said European, specifically Eastern European. And he said. So Scandinavian, Sweden.

I said, no. And supplied the above countries. He gave me a blank stare and repeated Scandinavian. Not according to Wikipedia, But since he then typed something I'm pretty sure my insurance now has me listed as Scandinavian.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it worked out well for you.

I had a friend who went to Jamaica and left the resort - she admits after the fact she should not have taken the risk because there the area was extemely unsafe yet she didn't know it until she left.


Melinda said...

Thanks for your post! It is so true! I live in Guatemala and it has its negatives, but also postives! Glad you had a nice time!

Anonymous said...

Vicki, what a gorgeous picture! I wouldn't mind one of those chaise lounges right about now. I'm so glad you and your husband had a safe and relaxing vacation. Did you have to pay extra to cart back home all those souvenirs you bought?! :-)

Kristina Mathews said...

I went to Cabo for my husband's 40th Birthday. We went with a big group of his high school friends and wives. Our poor Snorkel guide was disappointed that his reservation for "7 Cougars" referred to the High School mascot not something else.

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Pamela Hearon said...

I love the south of France and would love to visit Corsica. We passed an opportunity to visit there several years ago because we heard it could be unsafe. Since then, I've researched and it appears our fears were ungrounded. I hope to get the opportunity again some time.

linda s said...

I avoid box canyons when I'm camping. We camped with cougars once in Montana and they scared me to death. I'll stick with bears.

Snookie said...

Lots of places I'd like to visit. Can't say as I'm worried about any of them. It's lack of money that keeps me home :)

liztalley said...

Sounds like you had a great vacation. We went to Mexico via a cruise several years ago and I remember being shocked by all the police with M-16 on every corner - made me feel safe and not so safe. But the beaches and ocean were beautiful and I loved spending time in the marketplaces, picking up some really good deals :)

Our speed is usually Disney World where there is another kind of danger to your wallet :) Though I am hoping to branch out and try new places, my husband and kids are pretty comfortable just going to the beach each year. Guess the Talleys aren't too adventurous.

Vicki Essex said...

Linda S: after reading Kristina's comment about 7 cougars, your preference for bears over box canyons made me laugh. Because I am immature.

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