Editorials Mexico

Potential travelers to Mexico-look beyond the negative headlines

Although the Knot reminds me that my wedding was more than six months ago, I still go on its website. For anyone not female and who has not been involved in some way, shape, or form with weddings, it’s basically the Bible of wedding planning. I no longer go on it for planning advice but rather to read some of the board posts. I’m what would be called a lurker in online speak. The one board I can’t seem to stop checking out is the honeymoon board. I’m extremely well traveled but, as evidenced by the sheer amount of utterly ridiuclous questions and comments posted on it, I know I’m in the minority.

The latest (and most frequently posted) “hot topic” usually concerns travel to Cancun and the area farther south of it known as the Mayan Riviera. I have seen posts by girls in which they are freaked out about going to Mexico on their honeymoon for fear of being raped, murdered, or kidnapped. Although I’ve known it for quite some time, the number of people who can’t seem to grasp that Mexico is an incredibly large country and the concentrated areas of violence related to the drug cartels are mainly taking place along the border WITH THE UNITED STATES (let’s not forget this important fact), hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the posh beach resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen for instance. Even though there have been cases where violence has occurred in the more central states (Mexico comprises 31 states and one federal district), these are still not areas where a person who has never traveled outside of the United States prior to their honeymoon will be visiting. I found it comical when a poster who so staunchly defended her viewpoints, as in all of Mexico is extremely dangerous and you’re stupid to go there, posted numerous articles to support her claim when five of the six concerned the border violence, and the sixth was from a random source (as in nothing news accredited, simply a website).

I have traveled to Mexico four times, first in 2001, most recently in 2008. I haven’t been back since not because I’m afraid to, but simply because my “destination datebook” is that filled up and, I’m eager to visit new places. But the city where I volunteered at an orphanage became front page news when in 2009 a top drug kingpin was killed there by the Mexican Navy. That doesn’t mean I would never go back there because after all, it was an isolated incident. Juarez, the infamous city along the border is an entirely different situation; sadly violence occurs there on a daily basis. I have never once felt uneasy or threatened while in Mexico. The only grievances I have is the gawking I receive from people over my hair and the gross nature of some Mexican men, although that’s tied into the machismo culture which is an entirely different topic.

Mexico is a developing country. Although it may have first class resorts and five star restaurants, it’s still a country where a good many of its citizens live below the poverty line. As such it’s a country that greatly depends on its tourist industry, a sector that employs thousands of people in some capacity. To write off visiting a country for fear of something happening since violent acts are taking place hundreds of miles away is plain stupid. You not spending your tourist dollars there doesn’t hurt the cartels, it hurts the hard working men and women. It would be like a German person saying they don’t want to visit the Grand Canyon due to violence in the Bronx. Traveling first and foremost is about being smart and sensible. Savvy travelers are exactly that because they read the news and are informed. They go beyond the headlines either in the newspaper or the news to know exactly where stuff is going on, to not generalize.

I love Mexico and its people. They’re incredibly kind and warm and have always treated me wonderfully. If you’ve ever entertained the idea of seeing Mayan or Aztec ruins or having real Mexican food (as in not the Taco Bell kind) or simply wish to swim in the strikingly blue Caribbean waters, do so. Don’t be afraid, just be informed.

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