Mexican Road Trip: Should You Do it?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Braving an awesome experience comes with the weight of cost and benefit. To experience a culture — the people, the language, the street food — as authentically as possible is always the goal. Some no longer wish for simply Tex-Mex. Some want the real thing. At the end of the day, whether you actually take that epic road trip through Mexico with likely depend on how you plan to deal with the reality that violence has erupted in that beautiful country.

That’s why this article at Bootsnall is a nice rough guideline to trekking South of the Border. It provides a list of precautionary guidelines:

Drive the main roads: As the article explains, the main roads are usually both better maintained and provide a little more security. Apparently, the lower down the road food chain, the more interesting the towns, but the less security.

Travel during daylight hours: Something that should be considered in general, but more specifically for the lower food chain roads.

Expect delays: I think this rule applies to “Anywhere, World.”

Stay in organized places: Organized places can also mean your own family. Also, when staying in cities and towns, it is important to know what neighborhood your hotel or hostel is in. If it is in a rougher area, just make sure that you take enough sense to catch a cab when needed instead of taking the night to walk the streets.

Pack a sense of humor: Also always applicable for “Anywhere, World.”

Once you have packed these things (including a spare toothbrush and a positive attitude), it’s important to know which direction (roughly) you wish to go. For those that like to flow with a journey, I think the most important thing to pack is one’s sensibilities.

One of my friends just recently ventured into Mexico City on her own during a seven-hour stopover. She was ordering something delicious from a fonda — kind of like a family-run cantina — when the woman invited her back to the house to eat. My friend’s common sense kicked in.

She knew that talking with the woman was no danger, but by gently saying, “No, thank you. I am sure you are very kind, but I don’t know you, I am alone and would feel uncomfortable putting myself in that situation,” was a polite way of keeping the situation in control.

The woman was not offended, instead she replied, “You are a smart girl.”

You can explore the world with a sense of wonder, new to foreign customs and languages, but not be ignorant of one’s safety. One needs to find a fulcrum of balance, between danger (over-exploration of one’s adrenaline rush) and adventure (exploration of something new). If you are really nervous, take a friend or, as the article suggests, just let others know where you are going and when.

I would like to add some suggestions, like geting in touch with your intuition (trust your gut), doing your research, being informed of current events and knowing some practical words and phrases other than “Donde esta el bano?” (like embajada — embassy).

With these and the other simple measures in the article, you can navigate your way through the streets to eat tacos al pastor — with pork and pineapple — or elotes — corn smothered in mayo, chili powder, cheese and lime. Or take in the sights like Teotihuacan and meander through the Oaxaca region. A trip to Mexico can be an amazing experience, it just helps to do some things on your end to ensure that it will be.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisurely cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog

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