It was the same story two years ago. Don’t go to Mexico, you’ll get decapitated. People will try to sell you drugs in the street. It’s not safe and the entire country is corrupt.
It’s like telling a person to not shop at the grocery store because one bad fruit surely means the entire stock is spoiled.
Mexico has its share of problems, yes. President Calderon has Mexican military deployed in 10 states to replace corrupt police, cartel violence breaks out at random and there is an ongoing war on drugs. As a result, claims of human rights abuse against the military have sprung up all over the place, making it hard to figure out exactly who the bad guys are. There are problems in Mexico that I’ll never understand, but it doesn’t mean I’d pass up an opportunity to get to know the place.
I might be starting this post on a bad note. I want to tell you about neon-blue waters, the best damned guacamole I’ve ever eaten, and the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered. I’ve only visited the Riviera Maya and Cancun on two separate occasions, but here’s the big secret, folks: stay away from the troubled regions (especially near the US border), and you stay away from trouble.
In a place where almost 44% of the population live below the poverty line, towns like Cancun have built enormous resorts to entice outsiders, and it works. We’re all looking for escape. We flock to foreign countries and dish out dollars expecting the best service possible, and it’s always beyond my expectations. Of the three different resorts I’ve visited, I have yet to encounter a disagreeable person. The bartenders whistle while they work, declaring it to be Happy Hour 24/7, and the grounds are always groomed to perfection. Service is always kind and courteous, even when the workers don’t rely on tips. Despite Mexico being the most heavily populated Spanish-speaking country in the world, most people in the service industry have become bilingual. That’s right — we go to their country and expect to converse in English.
You might argue Cancun and the greater area aren’t “real” Mexico, but that’s a stupid argument and there’s merit in every new experience. It’d be a sad world if we passed up an opportunity to meet amazing people, try new food or explore a different country because we live in fear. I stayed by myself at both Cancun Caribe Park Royal Grand and at the Laguna Suites, and only felt wary for the first little while. When you get over the thought that everyone is out to get you, life gets a lot more fun. Trust me.
Instead I went snorkelling, laughed until I cried with some new friends, got knocked over by ocean waves, witnessed a whole lot of thong bikini action and ate the biggest chile poblano on the planet. I soaked in a hot tub and had a butt massage from a gorgeous masseuse. I walked around Isla Mujeres where the only danger was dodging zooming golf carts, and met some representatives from Yucatan Holidays whose enthusiasm for their country rivals my own for Newfoundland. I had a driver who offered to take me back to my resort even though he was off-duty, and a Royal Holiday organizer who took every request of ours to heart and did everything he could to make us happy.
So yes, danger is real, but it’s real anywhere. Get schooled about the places to go and the places to avoid, don’t go venturing down any shady alleyways, mind your own business and be polite. Do your research. Being smart will get you a lot further than being afraid.