Month number two is in the books! First, a look at the numbers. Second, some evangelism. Next: goodbye North America, hello Central America!
Countries driven: Mexico
Miles driven: 1,772 (Trip Total = 4,735; odometer reads 281,235)
Total bribes paid: 0 (Trip Total = 0)
Total Spent: $1,934 ($66.69/day)
Retrospective Thoughts On Mexico:
I’m going to be straight with you. In America, our news outlets are all about sensationalism. If there isn’t anything outrageously bad to report on, they’ll revisit the terrible, heinous crimes from last month. This sensationalist attitude means that all you ever hear about Mexico is a continuous stream of negativity; terrible stories about kidnapping, dismemberment, and murders that occur due to the movement of drugs northward to satisfy America’s own lust for illicit drugs. Furthermore, everyone has heard about a friend of a friend with a corrupt cop story. Let’s face it, Mexico gets a bad rap north of the border.
Before we left on our trip, people used to ask us how much money we were budgeting per day for bribes. PER DAY! After two months and 4,735 miles on the road in Mexico, we were never so much as pulled over by the police. We stopped at countless police and military checkpoints, but were met with nothing but smiles and friendly small talk. The police, by and large, aren’t crooked. Foreigners who get pulled over and then offer bribes to “make it go away” are the real issue, as they create the false impression that foreigners are stupid, and will part with their money at the drop of a hat. Treat them with respect and they’ll do the same for you.
As for the extreme danger due to the war on drugs, it never even crossed our minds outside of wondering “what is the media talking about?” It never came up. Not in a conversation, not out of the corner of our eye, never. We felt silly safe every second of every day. Well, except for that strange day in Chamula, but that was different. In short, America is missing out on experiencing a truly wonderful country to its immediate south due to little more than media fear mongering. If I sound dumbfounded, it’s because I am. Should Europeans avoid travel to America because of gang violence in Los Angeles? Well, unless they’re a member of a Los Angeles based gang, I’d say they have nothing to worry about. If the Mexican media reported on every single murder in the USA, they’d be scared to death too.
In Mexico, almost every day was an absolute treasure. The people we met were unfathomably kind, the weather was incredible, the food was life changing, and we feel that we’ve become better people for our experiences there. In the people we found a warmth and sincerity that we’ve never felt on such a universal scale. No longer do we dare pass someone on the street without greeting them with a smile and a “buenos dias”. Whenever someone passes us on their way out the door of a restaurant, they invariably smile at us and say “provecho”. Enjoy. Not just every once in a while, I’m talking about every time. Entire families will say this to us in turn as they pass. Even tough-looking teenagers. Mexico has taught us manners.
If you’ve considered going to Mexico, but have been dissuaded because of the supposed danger, stop worrying. Just go. You’re more likely to die from a freak vending machine accident than you are to die from drug-related violence in Mexico. After two months, we’ve decided that the country really deserves six months in order to discover all that it has to offer. And as you’ve seen from this monthly summary and the last, it’s cheaper to travel in Mexico than it is to stay home. Now go and write a harshly worded letter to your local media station and tell them to be more positive. But don’t forget to say “buenos dias” first.