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Headed to Mexico and Beyond-What Can You Tell Me
Old 12-13-2016   #1
ktmrider
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Headed to Mexico and Beyond-What Can You Tell Me

Well, I am headed to Mexico City on Saturday 17 Dec with my daughter for a week. We are staying downtown and close to the action. I worked at the US embassy on and off for a year in 2003 so I know the tourist spots fairly well but would enjoy hearing of anything you think relevant.

From Mexico City, we meet the wife for a week in Cabo San Lucas. I have never been there but have horseback riding and whale watching trips already booked. A friend from Portland is building a house so she and her family will be there for Xmas so any information would again be welcome.

I will be taking an M5 with 21/50/135 lenses. The 135 may allow me to get some photos of whales but would prefer something longer. I will be shooting primarily b&w. Have a new 50f1.5 Nokton ASPH which arrived today. It looks great on the black M5. Also, I will be packing a Fuji X70 for a 28mm and color and to carry when I am really lazy.

And, in some ways this is a scouting trip as I am headed to Panama from the US aboard a motorcycle at the end of January. Have been to Costa Rica, Belize, Panama and Guatemala but any info on Central America would be useful as well.
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Old 12-13-2016   #2
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^ WOW, what a motorcycle trip that'll be ! I'm envious . Peter
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Old 12-13-2016   #3
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Actually, if the trip to Panama turns out ok, a couple of us are talking about shipping the bikes around the Darien Gap and continuing to Tierra del Fuego in the fall. I may just store the bike in Panama and fly down in the fall to continue.

It is 9000 miles from the US border to the tip of South America (one way) compared to 3800 miles from El Paso to Anchorage, Ak which I have done 3 times. Oh, and only 3100 miles from the US to the Canal.
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Old 12-13-2016   #4
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If you are going to Baja, San Jose' del Cabo in much more interesting (photographically). Cabo San Lucas downtown is junk. The resorts are beautiful if you like those, photographically CSL is nothing downtown unless you are into cheesy photos.
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Old 12-13-2016   #5
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Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
Actually, if the trip to Panama turns out ok, a couple of us are talking about shipping the bikes around the Darien Gap and continuing to Tierra del Fuego in the fall. I may just store the bike in Panama and fly down in the fall to continue.

It is 9000 miles from the US border to the tip of South America (one way) compared to 3800 miles from El Paso to Anchorage, Ak which I have done 3 times. Oh, and only 3100 miles from the US to the Canal.
Sounds like the ultimate in iron butt riding.
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Old 12-14-2016   #6
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"Headed to Mexico and Beyond-What Can You Tell Me"

Guatemala next.......
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Old 12-14-2016   #7
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I admire your bravery, Mexico and Guatemala ? , I am from Guatemala, been to Mexico too, a trip by motorcycle on the Carretera Panamericana to El Salvador and Nicaragua very dangerous ,have you heard about the Mara Salvatrucha or M 18 gangs, or the other gangs who extort payments and rob the traffic, people traveling there now are making caravans so they don't have to pass through it alone , and carrying a Leica camera , when I travel to my country I take the cheapest and less obvious camera that I have, and still they look at me and the camera. an American with expensive gear and dollars ? I will advice you to think it over. And good luck if you decide to make this trips.

Last edited by jorgef2002 : 12-14-2016 at 03:04. Reason: add
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Old 12-14-2016   #8
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Jorge: have you looked at crime rates in some US cities like Chicago, Baltimore and perhaps even Philly. Funny, I live in El Paso, Tx., which according to FBI crime stats is the SAFEST city in the US and we are only 200 yards from Mexico.

I spent a 6 weeks in Xela, Guatemala, about 20 months ago studying Spanish. I met two gringa women (Great Britain and Australian) who were in the mid-20's and had just spent 6 months hitch hiking solo around Central and South America. They both commented that they felt more concerned about their safety in the US then in any country south of the border. It was a revelatory moment for me as I had 22 years of federal law enforcement experience.

Perhaps you should not carry that expensive Leica around the streets of Philly?
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Old 12-14-2016   #9
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Nothing to offer but my encouragement, and a request that you keep us updated with cell phone pics daily!

Maybe through a blog like I did on jimdo.com.
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Old 12-14-2016   #10
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I'm off to Mexico next Friday for a month with my wife. Really looking forward to it. We'll meet our son there in DF, stay a few days in the city then drive south together towards Oaxaca, Chiapas and Yucatan.

Incidently my son has been on a bicycle trip in South America, for 10 months and 12000 k, and will continue after we fly back to France.

I'm just taking my Fuji X100 and my wife's Canon S90 for this trip. The D700 stays home.

I wish you a great trip ktmrider.
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Old 12-14-2016   #11
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I met two gringa women (Great Britain and Australian) who were in the mid-20's and had just spent 6 months hitch hiking solo around Central and South America. They both commented that they felt more concerned about their safety in the US then in any country south of the border. It was a revelatory moment for me as I had 22 years of federal law enforcement experience.
Having 50 years of experience of living in South America, I would strongly suggest suicide counseling for such gringas
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Old 12-22-2016   #12
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Old 12-22-2016   #13
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Jorge: have you looked at crime rates in some US cities like Chicago, Baltimore and perhaps even Philly. Funny, I live in El Paso, Tx., which according to FBI crime stats is the SAFEST city in the US and we are only 200 yards from Mexico.
There are areas of any large city in the US I would not go into, especially after dark. I would not recommend vacationing in South Chicago, however downtown is quite safe. These cities are not representative of the rest of the country.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._homicide_rate

Guatemala 31.2 per 100,000
Mexico 15.7 per 100,000
US 3.9 per 100,00

I would assume other crimes - assault, robbery, rape, etc - would be proportional.
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Update
Old 12-23-2016   #14
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Update

Been in Mexico City for a week. Great city, terrible traffic and everything is so cheap. Well, my cell was stolen two days ago and today on the subway my daughter was assaulted which served as a distraction for stealing my wallet.

I have defended traveling in Mexico to many friends and actually had a motorcycle:trip planned at the end of January to the Panama Canal. Now, I am rethinking that trip. We are leaving tomorrow for La Paz in Baja. Screw this place!
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Old 12-23-2016   #15
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I was surprised you were so cavalier about Mexico. My girlfriend travels there, but speaks fluent native Spanish.

Petty crime happens everywhere, my subway station is full of dopers, the scourge of most inner cities.
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Old 12-24-2016   #16
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When I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico 10 yrs ago, I wanted to drive down to Mexico. My girlfriend at the time was from one of the original Spanish families that founded Santa Fe in 1610.

They all spoke fluent Spanish, and she told me that when she was a child, they used to visit Mexico all the time. She and her mother both told me flat out that it was not safe and that they themselves will not go to Mexico for any reason now.

Her mother was especially saddened by how things have gone in Mexico. She was in her 60s and she and her husband spent several weeks in Mexico for their honeymoon 45 yrs ago. She said it was a wonderful country to visit back then but the violence caused by the drug cartels and the Mexican government's weakness has destroyed the country.
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Old 12-24-2016   #17
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They all spoke fluent Spanish, and she told me that when she was a child, they used to visit Mexico all the time. She and her mother both told me flat out that it was not safe and that they themselves will not go to Mexico for any reason now.
That is a bit of an exaggeration, places like Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende are as safe as any world destination. Mexico City compared to US cities? I would put it at about the Philadelphia or Chicago level, reality probably closer in crime vibe to Washington DC.

Mexican border towns, not so much these days. The drug gangs in Mexico are surely crazy.
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Old 12-24-2016   #18
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That is a bit of an exaggeration, places like Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende are as safe as any world destination. Mexico City compared to US cities? I would put it at about the Philadelphia or Chicago level, reality probably closer in crime vibe to Washington DC.

Mexican border towns, not so much these days. The drug gangs in Mexico are surely crazy.

For us to drive to Mexico from Santa Fe would have meant passing through Juarez, at the time the most dangerous city on Earth.
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Old 06-21-2017   #19
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That is a bit of an exaggeration, places like Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende are as safe as any world destination. Mexico City compared to US cities? I would put it at about the Philadelphia or Chicago level, reality probably closer in crime vibe to Washington DC.

Mexican border towns, not so much these days. The drug gangs in Mexico are surely crazy.
I realize I'm reviving a very old thread, but I've been to Mexico City twice in the last chronological year, and honestly, I feel it is at least as safe as home (Washington DC) if not safer. Yeah, don't wander off into the dodgy parts of town looking around like a lost tourist, openly carrying your camera. But on my last trip, I hauled around my Rolleiflex and a Lomo Belair, and usually one of them was out of the bag when I wasn't on public transit. I never had a problem with negative attention anywhere I went, and I got around quite a bit by subway and bus.

I would exercise caution if I were a young single female traveling alone (Mexico is still very much a macho country, and they have sex-segregated cars for women and children only on the subway). But put aside any mental image you might have of Mexico as a lawless, violence-drenched country. Is it Peoria, Illinois? No, but it's a far cry from Somalia (or Nicaragua or El Salvador for that matter).
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Old 06-21-2017   #20
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Pepto Bismol?

Have a great trip. It sounds wonderful!
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Old 06-21-2017   #21
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Mexico is a diverse, interesting, lovely country. I've been visiting Mexico since I was a teenager. I would tell my parents that I was going camping with my friends, then we'd head south across the border! (They still don't know about this, I figure what they don't know won't hurt them).
We were young and fearless, but rightly so. Mexico is populated with great people, and like everywhere on Earth, there's some not-nice people, but far more nice ones than bad ones. Anyway, our rule was to get a certain distance south of the border then it was real "Mexico".

I've had so many adventures in Mexico. Rarely a tourist. Several rock-climbing, caving, birding and herping, aquatic (coral reefs), visiting friends, scientific collaboration and conferences, and one semi-tourist trip. I rather enjoy the food and culture during my trips. And both can be so diverse!

I will say that I'm quite disappointed in Los Cabos. American tourism can be beneficial there, but I think Mexicans and Mexico (the land) are on the losing end of the stick. I gut a gut-churning sensation when I see the cheezy impact of the American "resort" phenomenon. That sensation turns to anger and frustration when I witness American "visitors" treating their hosts and their country as if it were their own (or worse). Clearly, not all Americans behave this way, but I see this type of visitor more often in Los Cabos than elsewhere.

When visiting Baja, I prefer more authentic locations. The inland canyons near Los Cabos are fascinating. Native palm trees, riparian cottonwoods, archaeological sites, unique plants and animals (including bighorn sheep), and a relative lack of American tourists make them interesting to me. In Baja Sur, I like La Paz because it is a neat, old, Mexican city for Mexicans, not Americans. The coastline between Los Cabos and La Paz has some of the most interesting coral reef habitat on the Pacific side.

If you can, rent a car in Baja.

I've been to Mexico many times, but never Mexico City (perhaps the airport). My dad and wife have been to Mexico City, and they say its a cosmopolitan city, much like other cosmopolitan cities worldwide. I sure it will be fun. Everyone I know says not to rent a car if you're staying in the Mexico City area.

Photo opportunities in Mexico are numerous. I've learned that unless I need a certain quality associated with a larger, or heavier camera, the smallest and lightest camera is the best camera. Nowadays, that could be the mobile phone. Practically, that has been a rangefinder (e.g., Leica IIIa) or an Olympus XA. I may have taken my M2 out. I also took my Rolleiflex (Rolleicord) on some trips, also a large format camera (Crown Graphic 4x5) I also have a 120 back for the Crown Graphic. I think that was for a caving trip and didn't work out so well. I think. Water and mud was an issue (well, it WAS a caving trip ) I did a whole Baja trip with only my XA. The XA is that good. The only drawback was being locked into the 35mm focal length.
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Old 06-21-2017   #22
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Well, we were in Mexico City at Xmas and had a wonderful time except for the incident on the subway where I lost my wallet and cellular and my daughter was felt up. I think that can happen in any large city anywhere in the world (Pick pockets are excellent in Lisbon as well.)

I took a motorcycle trip to Copper Canyon in Chihuahua at the end of January, 2017, showing a rider from Toronto around northern Mexico. Creel is 7700 feet msl and was 22 degrees when I left for Presidio, Texas. It is a wonderful country and very exciting as coming around a curve enroute to Creel were two semi trucks (one in my lane) and no shoulders on the road. Don't really worry about the cartels (I was a Customs agent before retirement) but crazy drivers, burros and other livestock on the road, and cars at night without lights.

Mexico City has an incredible European feel. Even at Xmas, we were in shirt sleeves. There are over 700,000 expats living in Mexico City. With Trump's election, I am surprised that Mexico does not build a wall to keep the gringoes out. Am heading back soon on another Mexico motorcycle trip with my Leica M5 in the tank bag.
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