The Truth about Mexico

Well the predictions were wrong! I did not die in Mexico. I was not shot, tortured, raped, decapitated nor had my eyes cut out. I am alive and well in Guatemala having a Glenlivet and watching the people walk by.

As soon as I started planning my trip I heard about the dangers of Mexico. The closer I got to my departure and the closer I got to Mexico the more terrible stories I heard. Almost everyone predicted that I would die if I entered Mexico.

All I heard about going to Mexico was “you must be crazy, you will die for sure”, “your bike will get stolen” “those Mexicans will cut your head off”, “you will get raped and have your eyes taken out” “you must have a death wish”, “you’re going to die” “you’re going to die”.  For weeks upon weeks these messages were all I heard and they did play on my mind. In one week I received 10 e-mails about how dangerous it was and how I should not go to Mexico. I did consider not coming but in the end decided to limit my time in Mexico, a decision I now regret.

I am not sure where people get their information about Mexico from but after 13 days of riding my motorcycle alone around Mexico I would like to try and set the record straight about this wonderful country.

I encountered no hostility in Mexico. The Mexicans I met were either indifferent to me being around or very excited to have me as a guest in their country. The further south I travelled the friendlier the people were, but everywhere there were smiling faces.  I never experienced any negativity here; they were always nice and patient with my lack of Spanish.

Driving in Mexico was an adventure. I did get turned around a couple of times here and needed to check my map. Once my map came out of the tank bag people came over and helped me, I was soon back on the right path. The roads in Mexico are not as bad as people say. Sure there are some really nasty potholes that you really need to watch out for, the speed bumps will drive you crazy and you will find areas where the road has been washed away due to heavy rains. Overall the roads were fun to ride. Welcome to the world of adventure motorcycle travel.

The Mexican people took the security of my motorcycle very seriously. My motorcycle when parked was being watched by security and was once even in the hotel lobby for 2 days.  I have travelled 37,686 kilometers on this adventure so far and only one item has been stolen from me and it was stolen in Yukon Canada, not Mexico! Where were the warnings about Yukon? I hope the thief really needed that empty gas can and is using it to help his family.

Let’s be honest, Mexico has its problems, just a short while before I arrived in Veracruz 35 bodies were dumped under an overpass on a main street.  The location of the body dump was less than 1,000 meters from the lobby of the hotel I stayed in. Since I stopped listening to stories on Mexico I had no idea this happened until long after I checked in. The border towns between the US and Mexico have had lots of violence as well. This type of violence in Mexico seems only to be among the Cartels and not against the tourist or average Mexican. Putting the border behind you quickly is good advice.

I did get a traffic “ticket” on the first day. I intentionally left this out of my blog so that I would not get bombarded with e-mails again. The light was yellow, not red as the traffic cop said it was, however I could not remember the Spanish word for yellow, so I argued it was green. In the end it cost me 200 pesos. I compare this to the speeding ticket I got from the RCMP in Newfoundland and I would take the Mexican cop any day. The RCMP officer in Newfoundland was rude, treated me more like a dangerous criminal than a speeder and talked to me as if I was a child (I had 10 years on him for sure). I was going 117 km in a 90 km zone on a long isolated highway with nobody around, not a violent crime. The Mexican cop was polite to me, did not attempt to intimidate me, and in the end he shook my hand and called me Amigo. I got a lecture from the RCMP.

The people are great, the food is fantastic and it will be unlikely that you will encounter problems if you use common sense. Don’t hesitate about coming to Mexico, get yourself down here, explore everything it has to offer. My time here was too short, but I will be back and will be spending a lot more time.

Thank you to the people who had honest concern for my safety, I am blessed to have good friends who care.

This entry was posted in Mexico and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to The Truth about Mexico

  1. Jane Rose says:

    Your adventures in Mexico were wonderful. At least you will be passing through again on your way home! You seem to have met wonderful folks. The Yukon/Mexican police contrast was revealing.
    Safe journeys, my friend.

  2. Poncho Tomita says:

    I am planning a motorcycle trip from San Diego to Los Cabos and I usually hear the same comments you received about Mexico. After reading your blog I feel more comfortable about my trip. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. Craig Kirkpatrick says:

    Hi Greg, am considering a trip into Mexico by motorcycle, read thru your article and others already, sorry to hear of your bad experience with the RCMP member in NFLD, I am one in BC, we have some ignorant dickheads out there but most are pretty good folks, ah, what can I say. Anyway, thanks for the info! Very well done site, I plan to spend some more time reading where you have been and hopefully learning a bit about the adventure travelling. Cheers. Craig.

    • greg says:

      Your trip will be amazing!! Our cops is Canada are great – we run into the occasional jerk but at least it makes for good stories. If I can help you in any way with your trip please let me know.

  4. Jennifer D. says:

    Hi Greg,
    It was great reading about your exprience in Mexico. I’m actually considering moving there in about a year. For the sake of love of course:) What was the general vibe throughout the areas you stayed? Did you feel safe walking around at night? Or did it make a difference that you’re a guy and not a 105 lb. 5 foot female? Continue living the dream!!!

    • greg says:

      Mexico was great!! I enjoyed the people, the food and the culture. I do think you have to be more careful at night and watch who you trust – but this is true for every country.

  5. Robert says:

    My experience nearly mirrors yours. In May of 2010 I took my motorcycle 6000 miles (roundtrip) from my hometown in Utah (USA) to the state of Puebla to climb El Pico de Orizaba. I encountered nothing but hospitality, good food and wonderful people throughout the entire month I was in the country.

    I wouldn’t think twice about doing another trip in Mexico. While I won’t completely discount the dangerous sides of Mexico, I will say the stories are blown out of proportion once they have made it to the U.S.

    Great article.

    Ride safe. Travel far. Do it soon.

    • Brandon Miller says:

      Hey, I am from Utah and would like to visit with you concerning your trip through Mexico. I am a new motorcycle rider and have thought to make a trip to Colombia, SA. I would appreciate a response, thanks, Brandon

  6. Christina la latina con mieda says:

    I’m writing on behalf of a friend who’s husband is planning a motorcycle trip for the both of them through Mexico this coming winter–she’s concerned about her safety and I’ve developed concern on her behalf. I lived briefly in Mexico in 2001 and had an amazing heartwarming experience for 4 months. But this is 2013, and I listen to the news. I could copy links to articles about Mexico leading the world in beheadings in 2011, I read articles warning specifically about rural road travel through Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero—narcotrafficking thoroughfares that would be essential motorcycle travel routes for contiguous travel from the northern frontera to the south of Mexico. I hope you can reply to me persuasively about how these two definitively can or can not be assured of their safety
    —not traffic safety, but from gang/narcotrafficking agenda driven crimes as they travel on motorcycles from the northern border of Mexico to the Southern border.
    I appreciate any encouragement and sobering truths you can provide.

    • greg says:

      Christina – I will send you a detailed e-mail about your concerns. Thanks for contacting me.

      • Eric says:

        Greg is there ever an oppertunity to ride in a group of people / explorers on bikes? Also, I have a 2012 heritage softail do you think that may be to flashy,it is suppose to get as round 40-45 per gal. Its fully insured so if it came up missing it would not be the end of the world.I am itching to ride through mexico would like to fo with a group of guys/ gals,couples who ever.or just one other rider. Whats ur thoughts on that?

        • greg says:

          I am not to sure about riding clubs or groups in Mexico. I rode through solo. I am sure that there are riding clubs that you could hook up with, or even organize your own group.

        • Zack says:

          Hey Eric, Not sure if you’re still around But I am planning a trip through Mexico in Late October/November. Would be cool to find other riders to do it with.

          • David says:

            Zack,
            I’m planning on a trip through Central and South America, and plan on traveling though Mexico around that same time. I’m planning on leaving Georgia right around Nov. 1st. I’d love to ride with a partner if you would be interested in that.

            let me know on this blog and we could exchange contacts.

          • Sky says:

            I’d be interested in how your trip went: planning on driving my Harley down from Alaska to Guatemala this year, alone – maybe. Drive safe and enjoy!

        • Frank Richards says:

          Dear Eric, My name is Frank Richards I am a resident of Colorado. I am looking for a group of motorcyclist’s to go to Mexico or further. Did you have any luck finding a group?

        • teddy pinto says:

          Hi i am planning on ride to Yucatan from San Francisco ca, i am going to texas and them Yucatan on deccember 14, looking for a grup to ride with

  7. Thank you for writing about your riding adventure in Mexico. My husband and I have lived in Mexico five years and have never had a problem with violence or threats. We love living in Mexico and are very comfortable here.
    We both ride in Mexico and do not hesitate to travel in Mexico. It is very sad that many people in the US believe that Mexico is a dangerous place to visit because it simply is not true.

  8. San Antonio BMW Rider says:

    Greg: Thanks. I’m planning a trip to the BMW Rally in Vera Cruz & beyond October 13. I too have heard ALL the HORROR stories, a boogey man around every corner, switch blade alley the entire way. Asides from the over blown security situation, feel free to share what worked best, what you wished you had prepared for, what gear was essential, what tools/tires/electrical is critically important, best/worst roads, lodging, food ecetera, which is to say, we’d like to hear more. Best, Dan

  9. Bill says:

    Hi I’m from Australia and considering doing Texas or California to Costa Rica mid Dec 2013. Is anyone keen to join me?

    • Frank Richards says:

      sorry i missed your comment until now. I am looking to join one or more people for a ride to central america.

  10. Frank Moreno says:

    Hello Greg, I am glad to hear you had a great trip. I am considering riding my bike down to central MX next month and I would to know a bit more details about the route you took plus any tips about places where to eat and stay.

    Thank you

    Frank M.

  11. James says:

    Is Jan. Feb. March a good time to tour Mexico or is there better times of the year to go?

  12. Mike says:

    Hey guys, Im from Mexico City and Im thinking about making a trip to alaska in the summer, it would be my first long distance trip, I own a bmw g650gs sertao and Im 22 yo, I would love some feedback or recomendations for my trip, prices, expenses, posible accidents, anything that can help.

    Thanks!

    • Andres says:

      Hello Mike. I’ve just read your post. I’m planning to go from CDMX to Ontario this September I’m 23 yo.
      Would you share a bit of your experience please?
      or do you have any suggestions.

  13. J Spence says:

    Greg,
    Hi! I really enjoy all your blogs and photos of travel so much I am inspired to travel south. I live in Tucson, Arizona. I hear about all the necessary documentation you need to travel through Mexico and Central America. What documentation did you present going through all the borders to South America? I am wanting to eventually ride the Pan-American Highway System to South America in the near future. Hope to hear back from your response.
    J-

    • greg says:

      J – You have to prove ownership (your title) of your motorcycle when crossing borders and you need a passport for yourself. Some countries require insurance (Panama, Colombia and Mexico) but you can often buy this at the border. Insurance for Mexico must be bought in advance. These rules keep changing so make sure you continue to do homework. Good Luck !!

    • Frank Richards says:

      hey J let me know if you want some company on your ride. I live in denver and want to ride to Central america or further. email me for more info about myself if you or anyone else are interested in going on a long ride. fdrichards@hotmail.com

  14. David says:

    Hi ,

    Thanks so much for writing this. Myself and a friend are planning San Diego – Columbia on motorcycle. I’m very concerned about which routes are safe to take through Mexico – I imagine sticking to main highways is safest but least enjoyable for biking. I’ve got the usual handful of hangups about even doing this part of the trip, I notice you sent a woman named Christina a detailed insight into a safe route – can you divulge any of this info to me please?!

    Would be very grateful and thanks for writing something so reassuring.

    Dave

    • greg says:

      David
      I did nto send a detailed route but did answer a bunch of questions for Christina. I would be happy to do the same for you.

  15. Mike says:

    Hi, I am a resident of Belize and am planning a trip to Toronto, Canada via New Orleans and the Blue Ridge Parkway leaving late May/early June this year (2014). I ride an antique (1988 BMW R100GS, Bumblebee) I’ve always preferred travelling alone but would welcome company through Mexico. I will be crossing into Mexico at the bottom of the Yucatan peninsula at Corozal. Can you give me any advice as to safest route and places to stay? My spanish is pretty much limited to ordering beer.

    • Jack says:

      Hey mike I’m from Rochester NY in upstate N.Y. not to far from Toronto.
      I’m currently in Houston Texas waiting for my motorcycle title to show up.
      Should be here in the next week or two.
      I’ll be returning from Honduras around the time you plan on heading to Toronto Canada.
      I used to live near the blue ridge parkway.
      Well e-mail me if you want to try and meet up.

  16. Aldo Panera says:

    Toured around Mexico 2009, 10, 11, and 12…. very grateful to have experiences just as Greg discribed! Viva la Mexico!

  17. Sebastien says:

    Hi everyone ! Greats stories and tips !! Im planning a similar trip from montreal canada detouring to alberta and heading south !! Would be great to tag along fellow travelers !!

  18. Francisco Moctezuma says:

    Great post! glad to read that about Mexico! , we are very friendly people here, and as you said we have great food.
    @Everyone
    Ping me when you guys are planning to trip around Mexico, I can take you guys out to the local places around Puebla and Veracruz.

    Regards
    Francisco

  19. Sky says:

    I am contemplating driving my Harley from Alaska and down to Guatemala.
    I had some Guat. jungle experience years ago, and last year drove from New Mexico to Alaska. Thanks for the article; not as hellatious as I imagined, but still that was a couple years ago. Anyone else done this, or wants to around October 14, send an email. Drive safely and enjoy! 😉

  20. Ihmic says:

    The American media can only get people’s attention with fear techniques. It’s sad. I am planning a trip through Texas to the Yucatan peninsula – Playa del Carmen (south of Cancun) this winter on my motorcycle, or possibly in an RV. Not sure how long I will stay but if anyone wants to coordinate, let me know. Ihmic

  21. Wes says:

    Greg! Awesome post very enlightening and helpful. I would love if you could copy and paste those detailed emails you sent out. I was also wondering the cost of this trip and what kind of unforeseen costs you saw besides the obvious gas, food, lodging etc.

  22. Matt Perry says:

    Great post and allayed any fears I might have had about riding there. Since I’m not conducting any illegal business everything should be fine. I definitely won’t watch “Traffic” before my departure.

    • Michael says:

      Go ahead and watch Traffic. If you come through Veracruz, I can show you a place where the opening events are loosely based on. The movie locale was north near the border. What happened at La Vibora here will surprise you as to how closely the movie scene paralled the events.

  23. greg says:

    Happy to help. I sent an e-mail to you with my contact details.

  24. Daniel Séguin says:

    Hi, thanks for all the info, very interesting, my mind is made up and nothing will change it, got my medical shot today. Planning a trip from Montreal to Uvita Costa Rica solo and leaving the bike there for futher uses. Leaving early October so probably will get hit by some rains but the good thing is I don’t have a time table…

    • greg says:

      Safe Travels. I know you will have a great adventure. Be sure to come to the HU meeting in Orillia this June

  25. Antonio says:

    I red your adventure, I’m happy to hear those things about my country, I’m also biker and all that I can say is that most of the Mexico’s tales happened but as you say, among Carteles.

    I’m glad that adventures people enjoy Mexico roads!!!!

  26. Robert Guest says:

    Hey Greg,

    Thanks for the post. I would love to plan a trip to visit family in Toluca, Mexico. I would love to get 2 or 3 people together and make the trip. I would love to chat with you via email or online chat. Drop me a line if you are interested in chatting about the trip.

  27. Aelx says:

    Hi Greg!
    It’s really nice to read the truth about Mexico. I’m planning to go to Mexixo with my friend by 1 motorcycle. We’re 2 young woman… So whoever hear our plans is knocking in head…

    Could you please tell me some imagination about young woman in Mexico? I believe everybody will be nice for us. What do you think? And also- where did you sleep? Hotels? Did you try maybe couchsurfing web page?

    Best, Aleksandra.

    • greg says:

      I found that there was plenty of affordable a safe places to stay in mexico, Hostels, hotels etc, I found couchsurfing did not work for me – I think becasue I am a single male. It might work for you. I do think that women travelling alone should use extra caution, but since there are two of you it should be safer. Do you have a SPOT? If not – get one.

    • Chad says:

      Aleksandra,

      have you taken your trip to mexico yet? i am planning a trip in november. looking for others to join me.

  28. Jasper says:

    Hi Greg,
    I’m in middle of a similar trip to yours on a KLR650. I came down from Victoria in Canada and am going as far as Costa Rica this year. Right now I’m just about in San Cristobal. I’ve already been in Mexico for 2 months and would highly recommend it to motorcyclists. I’ve been all over the world and Mexico is one of my favourite countries.

    I liked your post riding from Veracruz to Oaxaca, that road was great. Riding to Mazunte from Oaxaca on the 175 was a similar road and tons of fun as well.
    Do you have any other trips coming up?

  29. greg says:

    No other trips planned for 2016. Enjoy the rest of your trip, I know you’ll have a blast

  30. TigerLily says:

    Terrific article. I can relate to everything you said. I’m a 55 year old female rider. No one wanted to ride to Mexico with me, so I went alone two years ago. I had such a great time that I went again last year. I’ve covered thousands of Mexican miles from Tucson/Piedras Negras to Puerto Escondido, to Veracruz, to Reynosa/McAllen, Texas – and some of the interior. I, too, had a couple of issues with Mexican cops. But being of Mexican heritage and knowing Spanish fluently, I defended myself quite well.

    Thank you very much for sharing this article!

    and p.s. I’m still alive 😉

    • greg says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this blog post AND especially glad that you had a great time in Mexico. Thanks for sharing.

  31. bob hoff says:

    Eric, good to hear you had a great trip. I just got back from a rally into central colonial Mexico, best trip I have ever done. The people, culture, history, food, weather, and prices were unbelievable. Our rally had about 35 dual pupose riders, and we all split up into much smaller I dependent groups. Stayed in Tula, Victoria, Jalpan de Serra, San Miguel de allende (SMA), and Guanajuato. Recommend not to travel at night mostly because horses,cows,burros,etc can be on the road anytime and many vehicles in Mexico may not have their headlights either on or working.

  32. Sheila B says:

    Love reading your blog. My husband & I have travelled extensively throughout Mexico (except for the Yucatan), have loved every single kilometer. We figure it must be around 100,000 kms. through the years. We have also ridden from Tucson to Panama.
    The only issues we ever had were in Honduras:
    1st the border crossing was a bit frustrating but that was our fault as we chose the wrong border crossing (our second time into Honduras we crossed at a different border and it was a breeze)
    2nd we were stopped in road blocks 7 or 8 times. The police we looking for a “tip” to let us go through but we pretended we spoke no Spanish what so ever (which is almost the case) and after 4 -5 mins they waved us through. But never at any of these stops did we feel threatened or nervous. We do understand that the police are poorly paid and this is a way to supplement their income. Every car, truck etc. were stopped at these road blocks, so we were no singled out being foreigners.
    We LOVE everything about Mexico except the topes (Mexican speed bumps), for those of you who have ridden in Mexico you know where I’m coming from.
    Being a Canadian, if I only listen to the news about the US I wouldn’t venture there. We talk about the violence in Mexico, the U.S. can be a scary place. For the last 12 years we have spent part of our winters in Tucson, AZ…Tucson had 104 murders last year (that’s an average of 2 a week). We love Tucson and have never experienced any violence. However it can be a bit unnerving going into the mall, looking over and seeing someone carrying a gun. My point about going on is don’t believe everything you hear. Get out there and experience life but use common sense and listen to your inner voice.
    We are planning riding throughout Mexico, including the Yucatan, next October for 5 to 6 months. Can’t wait to be back in one of our favorite countries.
    A smile goes a long way and we always try to be as kind and generous as the Mexican people.

  33. Justin F says:

    I would like to start by thanking you for taking the time to write the information. I’m planning a trip from Chi to the Pacific Sierra Madre Ridge of Mexico next year.
    Your experience reminds me of Brazil. By the time my wife and I arrived I was somewhat expecting Cartels with machine guns and machetes to be swinging out of the trees at us.
    What we discovered were people. People going surfing, people eating lunch, people walking on the beach with their girlfriend like any other people do.
    Just a people doing a bunch of ordinary stuff.

  34. Greg says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. Have a great trip !!

  35. Brent Loomis says:

    Going to buy a new harley bagger and ride from Shitcago to Brazil in a couple years. I’ve heard all the stories about this and I’m not buying it. For the most part people are people and if you just mind your own business and respect others, you’re going to be alright in most cases. Thanks for the writeup on this. When I get back, I’ll be sure to do the same

  36. Linda snaith says:

    We are looking for a group to ride to baja California with. Where do you go to online for info nervous about travelling alone Would like to go from Phoenix or San Diego hoping someone can help us out

  37. Dante Sanchez says:

    Hi, Linda
    I’m from Santa Clara, CA. (I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco) and planning a trip to Baja a month or so, I’m looking for a group to ride too, This is going to be my first long trip to Mexico (besides Yosemite National park) leaving from San Diego. I have a 1200 monster (Ducati). If you’re interested or any body else to join the trip, please let me know! and thank you Greg for the info. I’m so excited and confident to do this trip now more than ever!!:)

  38. Thomas says:

    Leaving from Los Angeles around end of Nov. Looking for riding buddies. Want to go to Costa Rica but take my time on the ride down there. I rather go in a group than alone. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Thomas

    • Mike Paddon says:

      I’m Canadian but leaving from Vegas to Puerto Escondido in early January 2017. I’m riding a cruiser so staying on pavement but not pay highways. I’m only spending about a month or so but would consider the company of others. Drop me a note at im.keray@gmail.com.
      Cheers Mike
      Sorry, not sure if it’s impolite to message like this on someone else’s site.

  39. greg says:

    I don’t mind. I am glad my site is useful. Ride safe

  40. Adam says:

    Me and my girl are going from Dallas, Texas to Panama middle to end of November. Going on a KTM 690 Duke. Drop me an email if you are interested in group travel.
    adam@fcms.pro

  41. Randy says:

    Hey Greg,

    Thanks for the good info.

    I am planning a trip from Tennessee thru Mexico and try to get all the way to Buenos Aires on my klr 650. What are some must see towns on my way and would you recommend Mex City?

    Randy

  42. greg says:

    I did not go to Mexico City as it was not advised by a local. I like Veracruz, Oaxaca and San Cristobal in Mexico.

  43. Jorge Preciado says:

    Planning a trip to Tepic Nayarit next year. I went driving one time and it was a great experience so now want to go riding but don’t want to go solo.
    Anyone interested in joining the group?

  44. Lawrence McCoy says:

    Got the same responces so i quit telling people. I am planning a trip to paracho de verdusco (guitar heaven) in april 2018. Anyone interested?

Leave a Reply to David Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What is 3 + 13 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)