Probably the biggest question we get asked as travelers, homeowners, and real estate agents in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico is…is it safe?
Well, we sure hope so! Our answer is we feel safer in Rocky Point than in many places in the US. There are two types of people who ask us this question, those who genuinely want to visit but have heard the over-exaggerated media hype, and those who just want to pick an argument and would never, ever, go to Mexico, no how, no way, no reason! To the latter…good, we don’t want your bad mojo here anyway! This is to answer the former…
Here is the lowdown from us, who, started as tourists, became homeowners, and now commute several times a month between Phoenix, AZ and Rocky Point, MX. We have literally made the trip from Phoenix to Puerto Peñasco and back hundreds of times in the last 8 years.
Our first piece of advice is to learn about and embrace the culture! You’re traveling to another country with different customs. We recommend reading some books on the history and culture of Mexico before making your trip so you’ll understand and appreciate why things are different. You’re going to be at a very different pace once you cross the border, so start now, relax, plan your trip, and be prepared to meet some of the nicest people on the planet.
Regarding the language, if you’re traveling to any large tourist resort, you really don’t need to know Spanish, however, we would definitely recommend learning at least a few key phrases and travel with a Spanish Dictionary, as you will have more fun if you try to interact with locals in their native language.
One of our favorite questions is “don’t you get pulled over and hassled by the police for money?” We answer, absolutely, if you’re doing something wrong! You wouldn’t speed in the US and be surprised to get pulled over at some point. Basically, you will get pulled over if you are speeding though town, running a stop sign, or driving drunk, or doing something stupid. If it’s illegal in the US, it’s probably illegal in MX too! If you do get pulled over, please be respectful and calm and you can get the situation sorted out. Often you may have to pay a fine, follow the police to the police station, and pay there. We definitely think that’s a better system than getting a ticket and going to court or driving school and points on your record, etc. It’s the law in Mexico to have liability insurance, make sure to purchase it before driving in Mexico. Most of in-town driving is around 40KM or 25MPH, so if you get in an accident, well, it’s pretty hard to do. The freeways are another story because you may encounter everything from an overflowing, open backed truck carrying onions (true story), to those following the speed limit, to everyone else driving like a bat out of hell.
If you research legitimate statistics, and not nonsense news reports, the statistics show that Mexico is just as safe, if not safer, for American citizens than the US. To put it in perspective, in 2013, there were fewer murders of US Citizens in the entire country of Mexico than in the state of Arizona. These are facts easily found on the US Department of State website and the Arizona Department of Public Safety website. So we’re really not sure where the media gets their “facts and figures” about Mexico being so dangerous for Americans. And, as many of us Rocky Pointers know, these reports always pop up before some major holiday where tourists are discouraged from going to Mexico with their spending dollars and, are encouraged to stay in the “safety” of the US.
This is worth repeating: Most of the time, when people get in trouble in Mexico it’s because they’re doing something wrong or stupid or both. If you are frequenting a known drug area in either the US or MX, don’t you reasonably think your life might be in jeopardy? Use your head and be smart and you’ll be just fine.