Saturday, March 10, 2012

Recent Reflections

A comment from Dee on my last post spurred me to write this. I have actually been searching for the right words for a couple of days so thanks for the inspiration Dee.
Croft -- I want you to know that dear husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed your blogs. Your blog and TiogaGeorge's blog are two of our favorites. If you have the time, please continue your blog. We have become tired of big Mexico resorts and Mexico cruises and are looking at other ways to see Mexico, and we do RV but have never done so in Mexico. But I have to ask this question. Is it just a coincidence that all this trouble is breaking loose now so close in time (i.e., your friends' carjacking and the shootouts at the border Wed. and Thurs. of this week) when so many people are traveling north from their winter hiatus? 
Take care, so that we may hear from you again.
Dee from South Carolina 
Dee, The troubles on the border are not connected to RVers at all. It is drug cartel members fighting over turf and this has been going on for years. Every once in a while the press takes notice of it and makes a big deal out of it. And it is a big deal, don't get me wrong, but it is not a deal that affects us. We have our own rules about the border. We do not spend the night within a hundred kilometers of the border, we stay on the toll roads and we always cross the border (in both directions) as early in the morning as possible. The bad guys are usually creatures of the night so never being within a hundred kilometers of the border after noon has kept us safe. 

Our RV'ing friend, Belgique (who just may possibly be retired CIA) explained his rule of "Situational Awareness" which would serve to keep all of us safer no matter where we are. He tells us to always be aware of our situation and surroundings. Never become so complacent that you do not recognize signs of possible or pending danger. If you are someplace and something does not feel right, leave. Get yourself out of that place or situation. This could be a lonely street, a restaurant or a lonely highway. Always be aware and diligent. Like I say, this is not just for Mexico, it works in New York or New Delhi just as well. 

For every story like this recent hijacking, there are thousands of happy stories that do not make it to the RV Forums and Blog pages. Anyone looking at these forums with no personal experiences of traveling in Mexico themselves would get the impression that this sort if thing happens to everyone. The doom and gloom forum hangers-on who have never been more than a few hundred miles from their own safe little houses all join in to say they would never come to Mexico when in actuality they would never go anywhere except perhaps fenced, guarded resorts or cruise terminals full of carbon copies of themselves. 

This is why we RV, and why we extend our boundaries a little further than many would be comfortable with. I remember the first time we crossed the Mexico border with the motorhome. The language and culture barriers made even the simplest things difficult. Buying gas, groceries, finding and paying for an RV park, getting a haircut... everything. Soon these things became just as easy as they were at home and we started looking deeper into the eyes and souls of the Mexican people and discovered what brought us here in the first place. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Yes it is a little different than what we are used to but that is why we are here. 

Cheryl and Frank followed all the safe travel rules and still got in trouble. They traveled in the daytime, stayed on the well traveled toll roads and did not flaunt their wealth. This sort of thing is not supposed to happen to them. But it did. Could it happen again? Sure, and it probably will. But it could happen to anyone, anywhere in the world. You could stay home and never leave your house but then the home invaders could come or a drunk could drive through your bedroom wall. Shit happens everywhere and it cannot be completely avoided. We just go on with our lives and reduce the danger as much as we reasonably can while still testing our boundaries and exploring our world in the little time we have to do it.

The fact remains that in recent years there have been more RVers murdered in Canada (2) and in the USA (2) than in Mexico (0). These are the facts.


  1. I stay in hotels and motels but have rules as well: I always pick places with inside parking, there has to be females and children hanging around-anyone with body armor on and I'm down the road. The locks have to work on the door, I like for the room to have a safe, a night watchmen is a plus. Rules on the road are pretty simple, I never let my self get boxed in on the road, I've had gangbangers get out of their cars here in the US, if I had not left an out, I would have been robbed.
    We have a choice, stay home or travel...

  2. Croft - it is quite a quandary as you suggest - what is safe and what is too high a risk etc. And we hear the dangerous and bad experiences - but not too much on the good.

    I continue to wish for foreigners being allowed to carry a gun(s) in Mexico. It is pretty obvious that a strong preparedness is a major deterrent as these cowardly types prey on the more innocent amongst us.

    It seems like these people recently robbed did everything right and still had this terrible situation. Obviously there is luck in not having a problem and bad luck the other way. ;-(

    We all have to continue on; refusing to be intimidated by these predators - and yes that is easier said than done.

  3. Calypso, I agree but not with the gun part. Pulling out a gun only encourages others to start shooting theirs. If we leave a restaurant as soon as the armed bodyguards start arriving, we will not be there when the shooting starts and will not need our own gun.

  4. Best comment I have ever read about traveling in Mexico. Thank you.

  5. I'd say you found the perfect words. Thanks for expressing what so many of us think and feel.
    Have a great trip north.
    Jan Baines

  6. Well written Croft. Little more need be said.

  7. Excellent. I fully agree with you Croft.

  8. Croft, Nah...just US Army (Ret).

    Calypso: as a NRA and CCW guy, I agree with you but in this case it probably wouldn't have done much good and, as Croft says, may have backfired (figuratively).

  9. Belgique: "Croft, Nah...just US Army (Ret)."

    'Plausible Deniability' ;)

    It was Moisheh who started this theory about your past.

  10. Yeah, I know Moisheh did that!

    In the Army we have “Hot Washes” or AAR’s (After Action Reviews) after any contact in Afghan or even at training at the National Training Center at Ft Irwin CA. The purpose is to determine “woulda, coulda, shoulda” for the future.
    From everything I have seen, this was a perfect outcome: no one got (physically) hurt…they will have trouble sleeping for awhile.

    From what I’ve read, I don’t think there is anything they could have done different. Whilst I am a NRA, Concealed Carry, Right Winger, it would have made no difference, or maybe, it would have caused death. I would have needed a Ma Deuce .50 cal MG to make a difference in this situation…maybe.

    This was a good outcome: the good guys walked away.

    This could have happened in Morehead City (our nearest metropolis) or anywhere else. I think the disconcerting thing is do you trust the LEO’s?

    The situation in Mexico is so sad. We love the people, culture, history, ambiance, etc.

  11. Croft, you are aware of the problems that we had on our recent 47 day Mexican RV Caravan. Ditto what you said about the border. Stay as far from it as you can, travel on toll roads whenever they are available, travel in daylight only, stick with a group of vehicles if possible, keep your doors locked, and only stop in populated areas. I don't know what I would advise if asked "is it safe to travel in Mexico by RV (or any other vehicle)?" I would probably suggest they read your blog, my blog, and any others they could find about actual travel experiences in Mexico and then make up their own mind.