Breaking Bad Press

TheSunSmallIn an effort to combat the bad rap Mexico seems to get from a voracious news cycle, I wrote a story for the Vancouver Sun (click on the icon to the left to read it) that I hope gives a different perspective, i.e., how a black eye can bloody an entire nation. Having spent several months in Mexico every year since 2010, and having spoken to many, many full- and part-time ex-pats living there, I can assure you the reality on the ground is nowhere near the fantasy most media conjures to scare you into staying home. Yes, there are murders, but they are almost always targeted. Yes, there is crime (just like at home), but the million-plus Canadians who travel to the country every year rarely witness, let alone experience, any of it. I appreciate news about and warnings of crime in my immediate sphere; it reminds me to stay alert and aware when I need to be. But when crime is sensationalized and exploited to grab eyeballs and increase ratings or circulation, hurting a country and its people in the process, I find that unfair and irresponsible.

Usually any time a story about Mexico like this runs in a newspaper or magazine, the Comments section blazes with slams against the country, calling it a corrupt, Third World ghetto at war with itself, and that anyone dumb enough to travel there gets what he deserves. Those comments are generally from people who have never been to Mexico. I was pleasantly surprised to see only a few negative notes, that the response was overwhelmingly positive. Seems not everyone is buying what fear-mongers are selling.

In the editing process, to cut the story down to size, there were a few ragged cuts and edits that rendered some paragraphs and sentences strangers to each other, and lost info that would have lent more interest and context to the piece (IMHO). Que sera. If you’d like, you can read the story in its entirety at this link. As always, I appreciate your comments, questions, insights, etc. Thanks for reading!

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2 Responses to Breaking Bad Press

  1. Thanks for writing that and as a two-timer to Mexico I’ve had a great and safe time with my family and can’t wait to go back. This Decemeber I’m thinking of renting a car at Tijuana airport and driving down Baja to La Paz (where I’ve stayed before – and yes, I’ve driven in southern Baja before – La Paz down to Cabo and back. My question, is it safe to drive from Tijuana down to La Paz (I’m sure it is, just wondering if you’ve done it – any helpful advice appreciated.? Thanks – Brian Bailey

  2. Thanks, Brian, for the comment. Yes, we’ve driven the Baja, from top to bottom and had no problems whatsoever (I published a story on that as well, although I can’t recall where! Maybe in The Sun also). The only danger is the perilously narrow, winding roads with no guardrails or shoulders! We actually went in an RV and it was pretty hair-raising how close you come to the edge of the road, especially when passing other big vehicles coming the other way. But you’ll be in a car, by the sounds of it, so no worries. Just drive with care and you’ll be fine (we’ve heard the Green Angels patrol the highway, which is nice to know in case you run out of gas or have engine trouble) — you’ll want to take your time to enjoy the scenery anyway.

    Avoid driving at night, as stray cattle often like to sleep on the road! We encountered a few military checks, especially between Baja Norte and Baja Sur, where they boarded the RV to make sure we weren’t transferring any unauthorized produce (yes, there are some fruits and veg that you’re not allowed to transport, even though it’s one peninsula!). The officials were always very friendly; they’re just looking for the bad guys carrying drugs and weapons. If you’re not, you’ll be fine. Check the safety situation in Tijuana; you might want to clear the city and border area as soon as possible (the border towns are always the highest risk for crime). Once you’re on your way, you’ll have a blast! Buen Viaje!

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