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The Face of Mexico – It’s All Smiles

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The Face of Mexico – It’s All Smiles


Mexico is once again splattered all over the news. “DON’T GO,” scream all the headlines. It’s so dangerous, people are being slaughtered. Tourists are prime targets. You’d be downright crazy to cross that border.

All that smack is coming out of every media outlet and as I sit here in my sunny LA kitchen, I just remember the smiles. The big, white, toothy smiles of every Mexican I came across in all my travels around that lovely country. In fact, I just got back from Mexico in February. 2 weeks of happy, pure bliss.

Last year, I traveled SOLO for months around the country with a solar trailer strapped to the back of my truck. I cruised down extremely dusty back roads, took precarious routes along the Sierra Madre’s, and swam along lonesome stretches of sandy beaches. Never did I fear for my life. Not once did I think I was gonna catch some trouble cause I was alone. If anything, it made me travel deeper, happier…

Oh yeah, there are those dozen times I’ve done all of Baja alone too. Up and down the Sea of Cortez, sleeping in my truck, cruising along tar black, two lane roads at midnight, and then coming upon a security checkpoint in the middle of the cold, star-filled desert. Only to skid to a stop, get out of my truck while they searched it…and laugh it up with the guards wielding machine guns. Again, HUGE smiles. Pretty smiles. Curious smiles. And, most of all, friendly smiles.

These aren’t trips that were decades ago. These are trips that happen 4-5 times a year for me. Stay away from Mexico? As if. You’d be crazy if you did.

Posted in BajaComments (4)

A Safety & Security Diary: Yucatan

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A Safety & Security Diary: Yucatan


After reading through some of the excellent recent submissions here, I was thinking about the general day-to-day of the security precautions we take while living on the beach here in Yucatan. Here, then, is one made-up day, which describes our (very real) security measures, or lack thereof, the (very real) incidents we have experienced, shrunk to a (very compressed) timeline.

2:00AM: We wake up, hearing a strange noise, with barking dogs late at night. Careful surveillance and a walk out to the beach reveals nothing. Everyone in the house goes back to bed.

7:00AM: We wake up again and start the day, realizing that we have left the door from the living room to the beach open, in the dark, for five hours. Though we feel dumb, we note that nothing is stolen, and no one seems to have entered.

7:30AM: I can’t find my wallet. It’s not in the back pocket of my jeans, where it usually is.

7:34AM: I find my wallet shoved in the center console of our unlocked car, in plain view. It has been left there overnight, with three credit cards and 2,000 pesos in cash inside. Everything is intact.

9:00AM: In preparation for a trip to Merida, I find that my sneakers, which were admittedly very cool, very Northern, and very unavailable here, have turned up missing after being left outside on the sidewalk for three days. The gate at the front of our property has been broken and left open for months; we haven’t felt pressed to fix it.

10:10AM: After arriving in Merida, and leaving our car unlocked, I visit the bank to withdraw money to pay for a significant remodeling project on the house. I walk out of the bank with 75,000 pesos in my pocket. I am not nervous, as I walk the streets.

10:30AM: I return to the car, to find the police standing around my car. They have caught a thief, in the middle of breaking into our car, and by breaking in, I mean, “opening the door.” Our passports, and the comprobante for our house are untouched in the unlocked glove box. All of our other stuff is returned, and we decline when asked to press charges by the police, who treat us with professionalism and courtesy.

11:45AM: We return to our home on the beach, where we find we had forgotten to lock the guest house during our trip to Merida, leaving computers, electronics, and stereo equipment unsecured. There is not a single item out of place. We vow to pay more attention.

1:44PM: Having lost the key, I cut the lock off of one of the giant, wrought-iron protectores which cover our sliding glass doors. Ultimately, I forget to replace this lock for four days. This does not cause an issue.

2:18PM: I finally get around to adding a lock to the $2,500 worth of water purification and pressurization equipment that has been sitting in our yard for months, untouched.

Examples of our carelessness go on and on. We continue to be careless, because so far, there hasn’t been much in the way of consequences. The fact is, life here bears a lot more resemblance to growing up in Midcoast Maine, where my parents spent seven years without knowing where the key to the front door was, than to the images portrayed by the media. The US press would have you believe that Mexico is one constant, gruesome parade of grenade explosions and narco-terror, but when I look out the window, it’s not what I see. Should we be more attentive? Probably. Will something of ours get stolen, at some point? Maybe. But in the meantime, crime and fear just aren’t parts of our day-to-day lives.

Posted in YucatanComments (9)

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