Most of the people I have met in the United States are terrified of Mexico unless they already have experience being in Mexico. The only exceptions I can think of are Cabo San Lucas and Cancun because those places are marketed as being “Americanized” and “Safe”. To a large extent the resorts are Americanized and safe but most folks who visit those places never step foot off the resort. They never experience what Mexico really has to offer, which is a crying shame. My cross continent journey began in Mexico. I wanted to start my trip in one of my favorite places in the world… Baja California, Mexico…. It is also nice to say my cross continent journey included two countries in addition to so many states.
The best parts of mexico are not found in a resort. The best places are found in the corners of the cities and out in the country. You want to go where the locals are, eat where they eat and see the natural wonders in the area. Anyone who said that the food in Mexico was terrible or the only pictures they have of mexico were a pool… completely wasted a trip to Mexico. While parts of Mexico are very dangerous, as a whole it is a wonderful place filled with wonderful people. This article is intended to give you a good overview of what you need to know to have a great time while your there.
Border Cities – Not For Newbies – Strictly for Live Men
In general the most dangerous places that you can be while in Mexico are the border cities that are major ports of entry, especially Tijuana. While I love Tijuana and I have a great time there every time I go, it is very dangerous there and you can quickly walk into a very bad situation or neighborhood by just traveling a few blocks off the beaten path…. I would not recommend T.J. or any border town for a first time traveler to mexico. In general these places are the hubs for cartel smuggling operations. The guns come in thorough there and the drugs come out of there. If your new to mexico travel, get through there quickly and move on to a more suitable destination like Puerto Nuevo, Rosarito or Ensenada. If you insist on going to Tijuana, bring someone who knows where to go and what to do.
Traveling to Mexico By Motorcycle (or car…. if something is wrong with your bike and you have to take a car)
If you are not going deep into mexico but just a few hours into this beautiful country, then traveling by Motorcycle or car is the best mode of transportation. The Baja Peninsula is one of my favorite places in Mexico and despite the poverty there it is beautiful, wonderful and filled with friendly people. It is only 17 miles from San Diego to Tijuana. There are Three very important things you need to know about if you want to ride into Mexico.
In addition to a valid license from wherever it is your from… you also need insurance specifically for Mexico. In general you can get this insurance at many places right at the border or you can get it online. It is super cheap and you only buy insurance for the time period that you need it for counted by the day. It is absolutely necessary to get this insurance. If you don’t have it you may have to bribe a cop to look the other way or end up in Mexican jail…. Which I assure you is a place you never ever ever want to go.
Defensive drivers need not apply for this kind of adventure. Mexico, like China, Most of South America and the NASCAR circuit are all filled with aggressive drivers who don’t use turn signals. Make sure you bring your A-Game and you drive aggressively. In these kinds of places, you will never be able to get off of the roundabout and your likely to cause a wreck if you don’t take initiative and assert your dominance on the road in a safe but confident manner.
Keep a $100.00 Bill in your Sock and Small bills in your pocket.
The Sad truth is that the way of the world is bribery. In the event that you do get pulled over and things escalate with the local police or the Federalles while your in mexico, you need to understand that while this is North America this is not the United States of America…. or even the first world. If you run into trouble for speeding because you thought the kilometer per hour signs were miles per hour… or you get into an accident with out that insurance you need a way out…. And it is to be found in your sock with Benjamin Franklin’s face on it. The small bills are so you can pay the toll booths found throughout the Baja peninsula on the Mexico Highway 1. Don’t keep all your money together in the same place otherwise when you do pay the “fine” to the officer it will be a lot higher.
Traveling By Air To Mexico
If you are looking to travel deep into Mexico to places like Mexico City or Cancun then you are going to want to fly. Navigating the airports is just as easy as it is in the states. Once you land then I would recommend catching a cab or renting a car. In Mexico almost all prices are negotiable. The price of the cab is also Negotiable. If you are not liking the rates they are giving you, talk to some of the other drivers. Also flights are much cheaper to destinations in Mexico if you fly into and out of Tijuana instead of a US city. The coolest part about that is there is the CBX. The CBX is a walking bridge that goes from the United States in south east San Diego directly into the airport. It is super easy to use and you don’t have to go through Tijuana to get to the airport. It has saved me thousands of dollars to fly out of Tijuana instead of San Diego.
Do not under any circumstances outside of a McDonald’s or a KFC order any American food while you are in Mexico. Order what the locals are ordering and eat at the restaurants the locals eat at. It is cheap, Delicious and a true cultural experience. Pictured above is my absolute favorite food in mexico. In the north it is referred to as Adobada (ADD-O-BADA) which translates into “marinade”. In the South of Mexico it is refferred to as El Pastor. It is an incredible pork dish used in tacos primarily. Never buy it unless you see it being cooked on a spit like the one above or you will be disappointed. They Marinate it with three types of peppers (not too spicy) and pineapple. It is absolutely the best.
Where to Stay
I prefer Air B and B or just your standard hotels. May of the places I have stayed are enchanting unique and wonderful. I would not recommend all inclusive resorts as a rule. While the pool may be nice, they have a way of trapping you in so you don’t go out and adventure and interact with the people. In a resort you get no culture and the food is usually terrible.