Is Mexico Safe?

safegirl

Is Mexico Safe?… Horror Stories & Uneasy Rumors… Personal Safety and Comfort… Women alone…

Mexico is a very foreign country. On a scale of “foreignness” from 1 to 10, I rate Tacoma as a 1 (very familiar), Canada a 2, Texas a 3 and Mexico a solid 10. In spite of its proximity to the US and a long common border, Mexico often seems as different to us as Ecuador or China.

“Like Mexico, there are not two,” is a popular expression of pride in the country’s unique personality. In other words, Mexico is not the United States, but a distinct and different country, with its own language, foods and customs. This can be overwhelming at times, especially for the person who expects Mexico to be some kind of predictable theme-park filled with mariachi music and tequila sunrises.

  • Will I be safe in Mexico? After giving a Mexico travel seminar and slide show in Seattle, I was approached by an excited, silver-haired grandmother who pressed my hand and exclaimed, “Oh, thank you! I’m so relieved! My husband’s friends swore that if we went to Mexico we wouldn’t have a chance!” She recounted a chilling list of horror stories, premeditated crimes and bandit antics that her well-meaning friends claimed await anyone foolish enough to step south of the border.

“It sounded just too awful to be true!” she concluded. “But then again, I wanted to hear your opinion before we bought tickets to Acapulco.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

Even such anxious queries as “Can I avoid diarrhea?” (yes, see Health) and “Where’s your favorite beach?” (a closely guarded secret) take a back seat to the question, “Is Mexico safe?” Having lived and traveled in Mexico for most of the past 20 years, we answer this question with an emphatic yes!

  • OK, if Mexico is safe, why are some people so nervous? In a word, bad news not only travels fast but it dies very slowly. We still hear nervous questions about well-publicized crimes and natural disasters that took place many years ago.

Mexicans and foreign residents often complain that in the eyes of the American and international press, “the only news about Mexico is bad news.” Drug wars, bus wrecks, floods and hurricanes make good headlines and attention grabbing sound bites. This sensational form of news coverage contributes to the mistaken impression that Mexico (or the world beyond our own borders) is a riskier place than home.

“As a matter of cold fact, there are more bandits in a city like Los Angeles in one night than in the entire Republic of Mexico in a year. But being more picturesque, every bandit in Mexico becomes an alluring drama to the Yankee newspapers.”

Old Mother Mexico by Harry Carr (1931)

Keep in mind that several million tourists visit Mexico every year, including students, families, tour groups, singles, retirees and honeymooners. Of these millions of annual visitors only the tiniest fraction have problems during their stay. As I said, however, Mexico is definitely different. A certain amount of nervousness is natural. Once you get used to that difference, you’ll relax and be able to laugh off your old fears.

“I was lying on the beach near Zihuatanejo, getting a suntan, when all of a sudden a bunch of soldiers with machine guns went by. What was it, a revolution?’’

No, it wasn’t a revolution or war maneuvers; it was Mexico’s way of telling tourists to relax! Military patrols on beaches are part of Mexico’s Immediate Action Program For Tourism Promotion. This ambitious plan includes measures to improve Mexico’s safety, to spruce up the country’s image and to expand tourism facilities and services.

Eighteen-year-old marines toting machine guns on public beaches and army units posted on major tourist highways are part of this reassurance program, as are increased numbers of uniformed cops and “Green Angel” highway patrols. More than a thousand Green Angel trucks offer tourists everything from on?the?spot car repairs and gasoline to medical assistance and directions.

In our experience, tourists lead a charmed life in Mexico. In fact, statistics show that you are more likely to be the victim of violent crime while in the United States than in Mexico.

If you’re like me and find cold comfort in statistics, consider what Lorena and I have heard expressed by hundreds of Mexico travelers, from backpackers and budget vagabonds to stockbrokers, secretaries, college professors, retirees, students and snowbirds escaping northern winters. Among those who spend more than a couple of weeks in Mexico or who make repeat visits, the consensus is virtually unanimous: Mexico actually feels safer than the US. (As several parents pointed out, children play freely in public parks and walk city streets without close supervision.)

Although Mexico is safe, it is by no means perfectly safe. Some tourists are the victims of crimes (committed both by Mexicans and other tourists). Others have problems that are best described as “self-inflicted.” Of these, drinking, drugging and reckless driving top the list. I’ll never forget the drunken American woman shouting across the hotel lobby, “I’ve got $2,000 and two days to blow it!” For a moment, I was tempted to “help” her out myself.

Unfortunately, scenes like this aren’t that uncommon, especially in resorts. When it comes to trouble, tequila takes a far higher toll than the busiest bandido. I consider it a testimony to Mexico’s safety that so few tourists infected with “fiesta fever’’ actually land in hot water.

  • Solo and first-time travelers are especially vulnerable to strained nerves. The normal stresses and minor anxieties associated with travel are often heightened by not being able to talk things out with a friend or family member. Bottling up our fears and frustrations can lead to a malady I call Traveler’s Paranoia. Symptoms include a morbid fascination with airline timetables and uncontrollable fantasies of being stranded in the middle of Mexico City without your traveler’s checks.
  • Women traveling alone may be the object of unwanted attention from men Follow the example of Mexican women: sit with other women on buses and trains; don’t respond to men’s comments and overtures; look for other women or tourist companions for trips to ruins, beaches and other out-of-the-way places.

Use cabs late at night rather than walking. Unfortunately, men often assume that women on lonely streets and deserted beaches are searching for companionship. Carry a key chain whistle and, if you’re bothered by someone, give your whistle a mighty blast. Mexican cops use whistles to signal each other and to scare off troublemakers.


Until you feel comfortable in Mexico, don’t be embarrassed to pamper yourself a little. Travelers on a tight budget should be especially careful not to subject themselves to more of Mexico than they can comfortably handle. As a rule of thumb, the cheaper a hotel room is, the more “interesting” it will be. When your sense of humor about the situation has worn as thin as the sheets, it’s time for a temporary upgrade in accommodations, at least until you get your feet back on the ground.

People’s Guide

Mexican Laws

 

While traveling in Mexico, you are subject to Mexican laws and not U.S. or any other Country  laws. Tourists who commit illegal acts have no special privileges and are subject to full prosecution under the Mexican judicial system.

Traveling to Mexico is all about cold margaritas sunny beaches and lay back attitude, but make no mistakes, there are laws here and if you break them you will have to answer to the authorities.

It is also very well known that Mexican authorities aren’t very honest and corruption runs throughout all levels of government. This being said, getting involved in any illegal activity may lead to trouble so take your precautions.

www.mexadveture.com has put togethera very complete guide on the legal aspect of any vacation in Mexico from bringing your pet or car with you, work visas or drunk and drug related legal problems.

Mexican Auto Insurance

While driving in Mexico, you must carry Mexican auto insurance underwritten by a Mexican insurance company. Your US or Canadian auto insurance in not valid while driving in Mexico. Please read more information on this topic if you are unaware of the need for Mexico auto insurance while driving in Mexico.

DRUNK DRIVING:

Drunk driving is punishable and if caught, you will end up in a Mexican jail for an indeterminate period of time until you have sorted your mess out. Your Mexican Auto Insurance will deny your claim if you have been driving under the influence.

AVOID PUBLIC DRUNKENNESS:

It is against the law to be drunk in public in Mexico. Certain border towns have become impatient with teenage (and older) Americans who cross the border to drink and carouse. This behavior can lead to fights, arrests, traffic accidents and even fatalities.

AVOID DRUG OFFENSES

Mexico rigorously prosecutes drug cases. Under Mexican law, possession of and trafficking in illegal drugs are federal offenses. For drug trafficking, bail does not exist. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines. Sentences for possession of drugs in Mexico can be as long as 25 years plus fines. Just as in the US, the purchase of controlled medication requires a doctor’s prescription. The Mexican list of controlled medication differs from the US list and Mexican public health laws concerning controlled medication are unclear. Possession of excessive amounts of a psychotropic drug such as valium can result in your arrest if the authorities suspect abuse. Mexican law does not differentiate between types of narcotics. Heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines, for example, are treated the same. Offenders found guilty of possessing more than a token amount of any narcotic substance are subject to a minimum sentence of 10 years, and it is not uncommon for persons charged with drug offenses to be detained for up to 1 year before a verdict is reached.

Remember, if narcotics are found in your vehicle, you are subject to arrest and your vehicle can be confiscated. Your Mexican Auto Insurance will not cover this.

FIREARMS:

The Department of State warns US citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Mexico without prior written authorization from the Mexican authorities. Entering Mexico with a firearm or a single round of ammunition carries a penalty of up to five years in jail, even if the firearm or ammunition is taken into Mexico unintentionally. The Mexican government strictly enforces its laws restricting the entry of firearms and ammunition along all land borders and at air and seaports. This has resulted in arrests, convictions, and long prison sentences for US citizens, even those who unintentionally crossed the border with firearms or ammunition in their possession. US citizens approaching Mexico along the land border who realize they are in possession of unauthorized firearms or ammunition should not seek to enter Mexico. The only way to legally import firearms and/or ammunition into Mexico is to secure a permit in advance from the Mexican Embassy or from a Mexican consulate.

If you are interested in hunting in Mexico, there are hunting guide services who can process the Mexico hunting firearm permits for you.

Customs Regulations:

Tourists should enter Mexico with only the items needed for their trip to Mexico. Entering with large quantities of an item a tourist might not normally be expected to have, particularly expensive appliances, such as televisions, stereos, or other items, may lead to suspicion of smuggling and possible confiscation of the items and arrest of the individual. Mexican regulations limit the value of goods brought into Mexico by US citizens arriving by air or sea to $300 US per person and by land to $30 US per person. Other travel-related items may also be brought in duty-free. Amounts exceeding the duty-free limit are subject to a 32.8 percent tax. Unless you prepare ahead, you may have difficulty bringing computers or other expensive electronic equipment into Mexico for your personal use. To prevent being charged an import tax, write a statement about your intention to use the equipment for personal use and to remove it from Mexico when you leave. Have this statement signed and certified at a Mexican consulate in the United States and present it to Mexican customs as you enter Mexico. Land travelers should verify from Mexican customs at the border that all items in their possession may be legally brought into Mexico. You will be subject to a second immigration and customs inspection south of the Mexican border where unlawful items may be seized, and you could be prosecuted regardless of whether or not the items passed through the initial customs inspection.

Traveling With Minors:

A child under the age of 18 traveling with only one parent must have written, notarized consent from the other parent to travel, or must carry, if applicable, a decree of sole custody for the accompanying parent or a death certificate for the other parent. Children traveling alone or in someone else’s custody must have notarized consent from both parents to travel, or if applicable, notarized consent from a single parent plus documentation that the parent is the only custodial parent.

Pets:

US visitors to Mexico may bring a dog, cat, or up to four canaries by presenting the following certificates at the border:

  • A pet health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian and issued not more than 72 hours before the animal enters Mexico.
  • A pet vaccination certificate showing that the animal has been treated for rabies, hepatitis, pip, and leptospirosis. Certification by Mexican consular authorities is not required for the health or vaccination certificate. A permit fee is charged at the time of entry into Mexico.

Shopping Items to Avoid:

Wildlife Products:

Avoid purchasing any products made from animal products other than normal leather (example: sea turtle shells, alligator leather, bird feathers, marine animals including black coral and shells, etc.) You risk confiscation and a possible fine.

Antiques:

Mexico considers all pre-Colombian objects to be the “inalienable property of the Nation” and that the unauthorized export of such objects is theft and is punishable by arrest, detention, and judicial prosecution. Under Usome Countries’s law, to import pre-Colombian monumental and architectural sculpture and murals, you must present proof that they were legally exported from the country of origin.

Glazed Ceramics:

(Health Warning) According to the US Food and Drug Administration, it is possible to suffer lead poisoning if you consume food or beverages that have been stored or served in improperly glazed ceramic ware. Analysis of many ceramic pieces from Mexico has shown them to contain dangerous levels of lead. Unless you have proof of their safety, use glazed ceramics purchased in Mexico for decorative purposes only.

If You Are in Danger:

Call the Mexican Ministry of Tourism’s emergency hotline, [91](5) 250-0123, for immediate assistance. Or dial 060 for police assistance.

If You Have Been the Victim of a Crime:

Immediately contact  your embassy or the nearest  consular agency. You should also report the crime to the local police immediately.

www.mexadventure.com

 

Car Insurance in Mexico

Crashing dollar

Tips on How to Shop for Mexican Auto Insurance

If you are planning a road trip to Mexico, acquiring quality Mexican auto insurance should be one of your top priorities. It is not much fun to think about having a car accident in Mexico, but it will be even less fun if you end up getting in an accident and you don’t have quality Mexican auto insurance to back you up.

A lot of folks assume that all Mexican auto insurance is basically the same, and rarely shop around for the best product. In fact, a lot of people buy their Mexican insurance at the border just minutes before they cross into Mexico. When purchased last minute at the border, most people do not even read about the insurance coverage they are buying. They often do not know anything about their insurance coverage unless they end up having an accident. After the accident, a lot of people realize just how limited some of the Mexican insurance products are.

This article will demonstrate how less than 10 minutes of pre-planning with your Mexican insurance shopping could save you thousands of dollars and spare you countless headaches in the event that you have to make an insurance claim while driving in Mexico.

Tip 1:

Plan ahead and buy your quality Mexican auto insurance Online – Purchase & Print before you leave for your trip!

There are a number of Online Mexican auto insurance websites, including Adventure Mexican Insurance Services www.mexadventure.com <http://www.mexadventure.com/> . Buying your Mexican insurance Online allows you to get an instant quote, and actually read about the coverage you are buying. Once you choose the Mexican insurance product that is best for your situation, you can then purchase & print your Mexican insurance policy directly off the website. The process takes about 5 minutes, and is similar to buying an airline ticket or making a hotel reservation online.

Shopping for Mexican insurance Online allows you to research the following questions:

Tip 2:

Are you allowed to repair your vehicle in the US or Canada?

– Will the Mexican insurance company allow you to repair your vehicle in the US or Canada?

Most people do not realize that some Mexican insurance companies actually require your vehicle to be fixed in Mexico! So even if you only have cosmetic damage to your vehicle (and the car is still drivable), you will still be required to leave your car in Mexico to be repaired. Unless you live in Mexico, most people would much rather drive their car back to their home in the US and get it repaired locally. Make sure to purchase a Mexican insurance policy that allows you to fix your vehicle in the country of your choice.

– If you are allowed to repair the car in the US, what labor rate will the Mexican insurance policy pay?

US hourly labor rates are much higher than most hourly labor rates in Mexico, so it is not uncommon for some Mexican insurance companies to only pay the Mexican hourly labor rate (as low as $20 per hour) for repairs made in the US . If this is a concern, www.mexadventure.com <http://www.mexadventure.com/> offers many policies that pay whatever the US labor rate is or up to $70 per hour US labor.

Tip 3:

Does the insurance include Legal Service?

Legal Service, which includes attorney fees, court costs, and bail, is one of the most important coverages that should be included with every Mexican auto insurance policy. In the event that there are serious injuries or fatalities, you will need an attorney to guide you through the Mexican court system. Without this coverage, you could spend days in a Mexican jail and pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. Adventure Mexican insurance Services includes Legal Service with every policy we sell. All ethical Mexican insurance providers should not make this coverage an option!

Tip 4:

Does the Mexican insurance include Medical Evacuation and Plane Tickets Home?

Most Mexican insurance policies do not include this type of coverage, but Adventure Mexican Insurance bundles this enhanced travel assistance into most of our Mexican auto insurance policies.

Medical Evacuation – Air or Land Ambulance – This coverage will coordinate and pay for air or land ambulance service in the event of serious illness or injury (it does not have to be vehicle related). A typical air medical evacuation costs between $10,000 to $20,000, so it makes financial sense and brings peace of mind to have this coverage. Adventure Mexican Insurance also includes this coverage for up to 4 people in your travel group – at no extra charge!

Plane Tickets Home – In the event that your car is stolen or is not drivable, this coverage will pay for you and possibly the rest of the people in your travel group to fly back to your home in the US or Canada. Most of the Adventure Mexican Insurance policies include this coverage for up to 4 people in your travel group – at no extra charge!

Tip 5:

Deductibles – Make sure you know exactly what your deductibles are.

Typically, Mexican auto insurance has two different deductibles.

Physical Damage Deductible: In most cases this is between $500 – $1,000. Most Mexican insurance offers deductibles that are based on a percentage of the vehicle’s value. The most common is 2% of the vehicle’s value with a minimum of $500. If your vehicle is valued over $25,000, then your physical damage deductible could start calculating over $500. In this case, you may want to consider products that offer Fixed Deductibles. Example: A Fixed Deductible for physical damage is locked at $500 no matter how expensive the vehicle’s value is.

Theft Deductible: In most cases this is between $1,000 – $1,500. Most Mexican insurance offers deductibles that are based on a percentage of the vehicle’s value. The most common theft deductible is 5% of the vehicle’s value with a minimum of $1,000. If your vehicle is valued over $20,000, then your theft deductible could start calculating over $1,000. In this case, you may want to consider products that offer Fixed Deductibles. Example: A Fixed Deductible for theft is locked at $1,000 no matter how expensive the vehicle’s value is.

There are some Mexican auto insurance products out there that have deductibles of over $2,500 – so make sure you know what you are getting! Adventure Mexican Insurance clearly displays all of our deductibles during our online quoting process.

This article probably won’t answer all of your questions about Mexican auto insurance, but if you follow these 5 tips, you will be able to make an educated decision when shopping for Mexican auto insurance. 5 minutes of researching your Mexican insurance choices on the internet can save you thousands of dollars and days if not months of frustration in the event of an insurance claim going sour.

 

This article is provided by Jeff Nordahl, President of Adventure Mexican Insurance Services.

People’s Guide

What to do in Cancun

Cancun is a very young city, being developed in the mid 70’s with only tourism in mind, Cancun has been the number one growing city in Mexico for the past 30 years.

The name Cancun, “Kaan kun”  means in Mayan language “nest of snakes” or “pot of snakes”

White sandy beaches, sunny weather, turquoise waters, the history behind the Mayans, and the kindess of its people, all of this makes of Cancun a constant FIESTA for all senses. Scuba diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, Eco-parks, Mayan ruins, nightlife, shopping, Kayaking, or just lay on you back and enjoy a frozen Margarita hanging in your hammock by the sea. Cancun has it all.

It all started around 1970-71 when the government of Mexico turned a small fisherman village in to a monumental touristic project that now offers more than 140 super resorts including all of the big names in the business. It was after 1974 that the developing of this city escalated exponentially to become what it is today, more than 700,000 people lives in Cancun and the city receives another 10 million visitors each year. Cancun is now one of the most important vacation destinations in the world.

Cancun is divided in three major areas, The hotel zone, this is where the beaches, and most of the big hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls, and tourist attractions are.

In the other hand is Cancun “Centro” which means downtown, this is where most locals live their lives, houses, grocery stores, hospitals, schools and practically the whole city “the real Cancun” is here.

And in the end is Puerto Juarez, formally known as Tamtamchen, this side of Cancun is the old route to Isla Mujeres just 7 Km into the sea and it is mostly dedicated to fishing.

Getting to Cancun from the airport is really easy, if you have a hotel reservation in the hotel zone, the best way to get there is arranging your transfer service through the hotel reservation or trough the airline, many travel agencies include this in your reservation, if you need to set a pick up service, you can find some good options here.

You can also get a ride to the Hotel zone on a private taxi or a shared van, a taxi will take only you and your family to your destination, while the shared van will stop on each of the other passenger´s hotels and eventually in yours. Fare varies depending on the location of your hotel.

If you are going downtown, you will find taxis, buses and vans that will take you. If you don´t mind paying around $40 US, a taxi can take you to the exact hotel or address that you need to go.

You will also find the A D O (Autobuses de Oriente)   this is a bus departing from the parking lot on the domestic flights arrivals area every 20 to 30 minutes, the first bus leaves at 6:00 am and last bus at 9:00 pm. just ask for the A D O bus going downtown Cancun. The ride is about 25 minutes long and it costs about $45 pesos (about 3 to 4 USD) This bus will take you to the downtown bus station which is located on the main street (Tulum Avenue).

Renting a car is the best way to explore the surroundings and visit some Mayan ruins, remember, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Chichen Itza, Merida and much more are near Cancun, why not checking them out?

The best car rental deals can be found (believe it or not) at the airport, rates are some times 20% lower and you can return the car right at the airport on your way back home. A very convenient option.

If by the time you read this you are already in your hotel, don´t worry, there are good options both in the Hotel Zone and down town, I will post some here.

Driving the hotel zone is easy, the strip is 23 Kilometers long (14,29 miles) and its only two lanes, back and forth, so you can´t get lost.

Along the Kukulkan Boulevard (which is the name of the strip) you will find Hotels, shopping malls, plazas, nightclubs, restaurants and marinas. Speed limit is 60 Km/ph (37 miles) and some areas 30 Km/ph (18 miles)

Gas prices vary (always rising) from month to month, but you can expect to pay some where around $10 pesos for one liter of gas (about $.90 cents of a dollar) All gas stations are managed by PEMEX (Petroleos Mexicanos) all these stations will provide free service, (oil check, air pressure on the tires, etc) this workers will appreciate a small tip when possible.

More about Driving in Mexico

Moving in Cancun
To move around Cancun should be very easy if you know a thing or two, in the hotel zone the city bus runs the 24 hours, this bus will ride most of the touristic strip and it cost $8.50 pesos (less than $1.00USD, prices change now and then)

To move downtown is a little different, city buses are $6.00 pesos only and stop running at 10 pm, after that only taxis are available, the taxi fare can also change as often as the gas price changes. (in Mexico that happens every month) but the average rate is $25 pesos with in the “centro” area and up to 40 pesos to the surroundings. From downtown to the H.Z. fares can get up to $100 pesos or more depending on how far up the strip you go.

Walking downtown can be a very nice experience, you can visit Market 28 or Market 23 for handicrafts and typical food, clothes and paraphernalia. There is a  square in Cancun called “parque de las palapas” which literally means park of the palapas, this is not a park and has no palapas, but if you´d like to taste some of the Cancun´s real flavour take a walk to this square in the afternoon, you will find food, folklore and fiesta. On weekends there’s always something going on here; concerts, shows, festivals, street shows, etc.. normally starting at 6 or 7:00 pm.

Across the street you will find a catholic church and another park called parque del artesano, “the craftsman park” this little park shows a variety of crafts and things like books, frankincense, T-shirts, smoking pipes, and some street art.

All around the square you can find restaurants of all kinds, Mexican, Sea food, Yucatan handicrafts,  hotels, hostels for all budgets, coffee shops, jazz, reggae and rock bars, taco stands, c-stores, and marquesita stands (these are some sort of waffle with Philadelphia cheese or butterscotch or strawberry jam or all together)

Shopping in Cancun

If you want to go shopping, there are several options where to find what you want, you can find at least 10 shopping malls in Cancun, 6 in the hotel zone and the rest downtown, there are open-doors shopping malls, like La Isla in the hotel zone or Cancun Outlet, downtown. there are high profile shopping malls like Luxury Ave. in the hotel zone or low profile like Cancun mall in the downtown area. All these shopping malls accept US dollars and major credit cards.

If you are of the adventurous type. try to go to “El tianguis” this is a bazaar type of street market that is set every Sunday on the streets of Cancun, this bazaar displays a vast amount of used things, from clothing to books, from tools to life animals, this market has an extension of more than 10 blocks in the city and it can house up to 500 stands crazy things happen on that market, make sure you bring confy shoes and cash, no credit card works here. The tianguis, pronounced (tee an gees) is located by Lopez Portillo ave. on super manzana 100, a taxi driver can take you there for around $30 pesos or you can get a $6.00 pesos van going to “tres reyes” You can take this van on Tulum ave. right in front of the City hall.

Paying with Credit Card.
Pay with your credit card when ever is possible to take advantage of the best exchange rate, you can get cash advance on some ATM´s many places accept credit card but not all places and not all of the cards. Visa, Master card and American Express are ok, any other kind of card is generally rejected.

There are ATM´s all over the city but there are fewer in the hotel zone, main shopping malls and plazas have a couple at least.

Where to eat.
Cancun´s cuisine is a collage of the rest of Mexico´s recipes, being such a young city means that most of the people living in it is from somewhere else, they brought the costumes and traditions with them when they came. In general Mexican cuisine is based on corn, so you will find it all over, normally in the shape of tortillas or tamales along with beef, pork, chicken and fish and all kinds of veggies and fruit.

Yucatan style food is very present in Cancun, salbutes, panuchos, cochinita pibil, sopa de lima, and many more typical dishes of Yucatan food are here, but also, food from Veracruz, Puebla, DF, Monterrey, Jalisco, and practically every state of Mexico in Cancun, you can also enjoy of a variety of international style food like Japanese, Italian, Indian, Arabic, Greek, French, Tahi and more.

Be aware! Mexican food can be very spicy some times, if you have a sensitive stomach, the mix of hot food and frozen margaritas can be a bomb.

Eating in Cancun can be fantastic, you can enjoy of a beautiful sunset as you have dinner and wine in any of the fine lagoon view restaurants in the hotel zone, I´ll post a list here soon.

These restaurants are the top of the line on food experience, international chefs cook exotic dishes on delicate atmospheres, life music and excellent service is a characteristic of these restaurants where making a moment to remember is an easy thing to do.

Cancun offers food for all tastes and budgets from romantic fancy dinners to cheese burgers and fries, or organic vegetarian cuisine.

If you are looking for some low budget but still tasty food, you can eat on any of the “comida corrida” restaurants  downtown, (comida corrida) means “food on a row” and this is a 3 curse meal, normally including some kind of chicken noodle soup or pasta as an appetiser, a main curse, normally Mexican style beef, chicken, pork or fish and something to drink, fruit of the season blended or mixed with other fruits. These type of places are the Mexican style fast food restaurants of all cities in Mexico, they serve a simple menu with 2 to 5 options where to choose from and it´s normally precooked so the service is fast and informal. You can get a full meal for somewhere between $45 to $60 pesos ( $3.00 to $4.00 US) per person.

Tacos
Tacos are a very Mexican tradition but not exclusively Mexican, you can find tacos all across Central America, each country changing it a little and maybe calling it different, but all sharing the goods of corn.

While most Mexicans can survive almost any kind of food on the streets, international visitors may want to go slow on street tacos, don´t get me wrong! they are fantastic, but some of the ingredients and procedures may be to much for inexperienced taster.

Salsas (hot dressing) are made out of many ingredients, the most common ones are tomato, onion, cilantro, avocado and of course hot peppers of many kinds.

Nightclubbing
Cancun’s nightlife is very exciting, there are amazing nightclubs to choose from, one every night. Most of Cancun nightlife is aimed to a young crowd and is loud and booze oriented.

CocoBongo, Daddy’O, The City, Congo and more
Life music, shows and open bar, cover charge can vary from season to season and from place to place.
These  nightclubs are a must visit place in town, loud, extreme but definitely fun, located in what is known as “The Party Center” in the heart of the Hotel Zone.
To get there is really easy, any bus in the Hotel Zone can take you and remember, they run 24 hours a day.
You will also find other places like Señor Frog’s walking distance from the Party Center area.
Look for detailed information on each one of them here soon.

Does and don’ts
Cancun is a very safe city but just like any other city in the world common sense is the key to stay out of trouble, the drinking age in Mexico is 18 and bars and night clubs encourage people, specially young, to loose them selves to party, nothing wrong with this if you can handle alcohol,  but many accidents and arrests happen in Cancun during party time.

Another thing to remember is to keep you belongings in sight, on the swimming pool, on the beach and any other place you visit, although Cancun is not a dangerous city, you need to keep in mind that.

Drugs are illegal in Mexico, possession trade and consumption of controlled substances can get you in jail, there is a minimum amount you are allowed to carry in what is normally considered personal consumption. these amounts vary depending on the substance.

Replete with resorts, Cancun is one of the safest cities in Mexico. Drug cartel violence generally takes place 1,300 miles from Cancun on the northern border of Mexico (the same distance from New York to Texas). In fact, Cancun’s crime rate is much lower than that of most U.S. cities. Mexico is a very large country and the resort city of Cancun continues to be a safe destination for visitors.

Mayan ruins in Cancun
You can find to sets of Mayan ruins with in Cancun’s hotel zone, El Rey (the king) and Yamil Lu’um, at this point none of them is open to the public due to maintenance, but you can visit the “El Meco” ruins, they are located in the continental side of Isla Mujeres, 7 Km from Cancun on Puerto Juarez-Punta Sam road. this site is pretty small but very relevant in the Mayan history of the region.

To get to El Meco, you can take a van for $6.00 pesos (less than $.50 cents US) these vans run all day long from 7:00 am to about 9 or 10:00pm, if you are in the Hotel Zone just take the city bus downtown R1, once you get down town get off right at the city hall and then wait for the van, you will see many different ones, hop on the one that goes to Punta Sam and off you go.

To get back just do the inverse and once on Tulum ave. you can take the R1 bus back to your hotel. If you are staying downtown just skip the city bus part and get the van.
Another option is taking a taxi for about $50.00 pesos ($4 to $5.00 US) from downtown area, from the hotel zone can be up to $100 pesos or more.

Water Sports
Cancun has a vast variety of water activities to offer, from easy snorkelling for the un experienced, to first class cave scuba diving for experts, most of the hotels have an activity desk where you can find these activities but normally on a higher price, you can also contact the marinas directly for a better deal. I will post some options here soon.

Beach safety
Every experienced swimmer knows that you need to talk to locals who know the surf before you get in the water, Cancun has a gentle surf but undertow is present in most of Cancun’s eastern beaches, lifeguards are often on duty but not always. The city of Cancun has developed a safety system based on colored flags.
Green for good swimming conditions.
Yellow for mild surf where non-experienced swimmers may find hard to swim in.
Red for dangerous surf, no swimmers are allowed in the water.

All beaches in Cancun are federal property so they are public, you are free to set your self in any beach of your preference, but consider that access to the beach is not always easy, big hotels normally are in the way and the access to these is controlled. Only guests are allowed.

You will find several public entrances to the beach along the strip. See a map here.

Immigration
For Visa and tourist-card extension visit the (Instituto Nacional de Migracion) located in Nader Ave. #1 on the corner of Uxmal Ave. right downtown, the office is open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday to Friday. Ph number (998)884 1404

Medical care
There are many Hospitals in Cancun that can handle most of emergencies, how ever not all of them can handle American insurance situations, The American Medical Care Center located in Kukulkan Blvd. Kilometre 8 provides good medical care and accepts insurance plans from all over the world. See more here soon

Driving Mexico

Driving in Mexico is not as hard as they told you, mexicans drive, in general, the same way people drive in the rest of the world, but just as in the rest of the world, mexicans add some of the culture and tradition to it. So, to enjoy of the experience of driving through a vast variety of landscapes and visit magical little towns and places other way unreachable for the regular tourist, you may want to know a thing or two.

Driving mx befunk3

If you are driving your own vehicle, you need to have the following documents ready before you cross the border: title or registration of your vehicle, a certified true copy of your birth certificate or passport, a major credit card and a valid driver’s license. All these must have the same name of the bearer of the documents. Yes, that means the driver. If the car belongs to your spouse or family member, you still can’t bring it with you to Mexico. Otherwise, get a notarized letter of permission from the bank, lien holder, rental agency or company that gave you the car. Expect to pay a $22 charge on your credit card after submitting your paperwork. When the immigration official hands you a car permit and a sticker, that means you can use your car to go around Mexico. But mind you, the permit is only valid for six months. When you return to the States, you will turn in the permit and sticker before the permit expires. Remember the car permit is different from your tourist visa in Mexico.

Mexconnect.com has put together a very practical and complete guide to drive around Mexico, this guide includes rules and regulations. Here the basic rules.

  1. Buy Mexican Auto Insurance. Mexican auto insurance is a must if you plan to do anything more than a quick hop across the border since, in the case of an accident Mexican authorities will not accept foreign auto insurance policies. Any Mexican auto insurance coverage you purchase should include claims adjusters that will come to the scene of an accident and an attorney. This becomes very important since, in the event of an accident, you are not allowed to move your vehicle and you may be detained by the police in the event that anyone is hurt until fault can be established
  2. Be aware that not all roads are in the best of conditions. Although over the last 6 to 8 years there has been an increase in the number of four-lane toll roads throughout the country, some of the minor roads, for instance those between small towns, are more likely to be paved with cobblestone instead of asphalt and, either way, they all have their share of pot holes and ruts to be careful about.
  3. Although there are reports of people being stopped and their property being stolen while on an isolated road, there are few reports of people actually being injured. The best way to avoid this is to drive during the day and not to stop for hitchhikers. Also beware of any foreign objects in the road, these are normally placed there so that an unsuspecting driver will be forced to stop.
  4. Try to restrict driving to daylight hours. This is common sense wherever you drive since road signs are easier to read, road hazards are easier to see and avoid and there are normally more cars traveling the same road you are so there is less chance of anything bad happening.Always be aware of livestock. On most U.S. roads, livestock is unheard of except in rural areas. In Mexico, however, livestock creates a large problem because of a lack of fencing around the highways. Livestock are normally left to roam wherever they can find food and this is sometimes near a well traveled road. In the area where I live, Lake Chapala, 40% of the traffic accidents that occur involve livestock in some way. These statistics are not official so the number could be 35% or 45%, but from what I have seen I would say the 40% is fairly accurate.
  5. Remember that most people do not use their turn signals and not all cars you see on the road have functioning brake lights. Avoid accidents by keeping your distance, using your turn signals and being aware of those who don’t.
  6. Always know who has the right of way. This is sometimes difficult because, even though you may be in the right, if the “the other guy” is bigger, he won’t care. This means you will want to slow down at all intersections and look both ways whether you are required to or not; it also means you will want to yield to larger vehicles that want to occupy your same lane space.
  7. Always plan your trip ahead of time. Take a good road map along with you and know where your stops are going to be. This came in handy once when we had engine trouble. Fortunately we were only a few miles away from a small town where, although accommodations were not luxurious, they did have cold beverages and a mechanic that could repair the car within a day or two.
  8. Remember that here, just as anywhere else, all those things you learned in driving school apply. Keep free space in front, behind and beside you when driving; obey the speed limits; use your turn signals; and always make sure your vehicle is in good condition and that you have plenty of spare parts (i.e. tire, water for the radiator, transmission fluid and oil) before beginning your journey.
  9. Buy a basic Spanish phrase book before your trip. Learning how to tell someone you need a mechanic (necesito un mecánico), help changing a tire (necesito ayuda para cambiar la llanta) or directions (dónde está or cómo llego a) can be very useful. Even if you can’t pronounce it quite right, people will usually get the message and be able to effectively communicate to you what you need to know.
  10. There are probably 10 more tips I’ve left out but this should get you started. Check back from time to time to see what else we’ve added or e-mail us with comments or your own driving experiences in Mexico. In the meantime, have a happy and safe journey.

Author’s Note:Just in case your considering risking the trip without Mexican auto insurance, consider the following:

Mexican law is napoleonic — this means that you are guilty until proven innocent. The person deciding this will most likely be the policeman who arrives at the scene of the accident, especialy if you cannot provide proof of Mexican auto insurance and/or produce an insurance adjuster appears.
When a traffic accident does occur, the police may impound your vehicle, especially if there is no one there to help you defend your rights such as an insurance adjuster and/or an attorney. Also know that in the event that someone is injured and you are found responsible, you might not only be held liable for that persons medical expenses but also for financially supporting them and their dependents until they recover. If you have an attorney he will probably be able to help you negotiate a more reasonable settlement than that which you could negotiate on your own.

Now, when you’re in Mexico, try not to do anything stupid. In transit, you must always be in your car at all times when it is driven. No other person can borrow it from you without you as a passenger. Make sure your driver’s license is valid. You can also use an international driver’s license. The paperwork can be a hassle, but it saves you from any unnecessary trouble with the local authorities.

For Further information on Driving in Mexico click here.