Safety in Mexico City

I want to take a moment to speak about safety in Mexico City. Regardless of whatever political affiliations you may possess, it is safe to say that the current U.S. President’s relationship with Mexico has made travel to the area more difficult. We had no issues when passing through Mexican Customs, but we had a few incidents during our stay that were a jarring reminder of how tense things can be between two countries. We visited in early March of 2017, so early that the full impact of a Trump White House had yet to be felt. However, even then, tension was high if we left any of the typical, high volume tourist areas. I had been to Mexico twice before this trip, and I can tell you as an American I had never experienced that level of tension before on previous trips. 

It’s 2020 now, and as I update this blog piece, I know things have most certainly changed. However, I think my point still stands. We had absolutely no problem in the tourist regions, but once we left those areas, the response was different, and it’s difficult for me to articulate how. Our group was Spanish speaking as well, so we were not dealing with a language barrier or accidental cultural insults. I like to deviate from typical tourist hot spots, but I did not feel safe attempting to do so in Mexico City.

You need to treat Mexico City with the same care you’d treat any large city you’re unfamiliar with. Don’t go exploring without having an idea of where you are, make sure you have some grasp of the language, and stay in high volume tourist areas. We all came to the consensus that when using guide books about Mexico City that are not recent editions, it’s best to presume that the level of danger for any given region in the guidebook is understated. Because Mexico City is such a confluence of bodies and traffic and smog, it’s best to keep a wary eye on your belongings. Keep small change for bathrooms, admission tickets, and donations to cathedrals, etc., in a separate pocket from your larger bills and I.D. Purses and billfolds are a recipe for disaster- it’s just too easy to get robbed. Spread out your larger bills among the group so if one person is robbed you don’t all suddenly become broke. Trust your gut. If you think that an area doesn’t look legitimate, it probably isn’t. In the higher volume areas, there are armed security guards on every corner. It makes going out at night for dinner a good deal easier and extends the time you have each day. We noticed these guards in all of the major tourist districts, and they tended to center in the hotel/restaurant regions of each district. 

The overwhelming majority of folks we interacted with were kind, warm, welcoming, open, and helpful. Most people bent over backwards to help us, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. It was just a dramatic shift from my other trips to Mexico, and something I think travelers should be cognizant of moving forward. 

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