This is a post I have been wanting to write since I visited Mexico. Before my trip, everybody was concerned and made me promise to call them every day and make sure to be safe. My opinion was always a lot more open, probably because I have met so many people from Latin America and it is not possible that all these people live in fear their whole life. Here are some of the expectations I or others had before my trip to Mexico and how it was in real life.
Just a quick disclaimer. During my trip, I visited the state of Morelos about one hour outside of Mexico City. My assessments will be based on this particular region and may change or not apply to others at all.
Shootings and gang violence
There is so much talk about Mexico and gang violence. People imagine that all streets are full of gang members, everybody is constantly shooting each other, and it is just overall dangerous. This is not true in this way. While you might see it more in the north close to the US border, here in Morelos is it not as visible. We have once seen what we thought was a pickup with some gang members who were getting ready to do something, but other than that I have not encountered anything serious in three weeks.
Of course, do not think everything is super safe. Talk to the locals and ask them what is safe to do. If they tell you not to go to one neighborhood, you just don't. In this area it was unsafe to walk around on the street past 10 pm, so we took taxis from one place to another in the evening even if it was super close. Basically, if you have common sense and follow the locals, you will be fine.
Mexico is all beaches
Yes, the beaches are the most famous parts of Mexico. Riviera Maya and places on the West Coast are well known throughout Europe and the US. They are gorgeous places and frequently visited destinations. However, Mexico has so much more to offer than that. There are deserts, jungles, and anything in between. I have really loved exploring them finding new things around each corner and in each place.
Regardless of what kind of travel you like, there will be something for you in Mexico. They have big cities to explore, beautiful mountains for hiking (just be careful of wild animals) and as mentioned amazing beaches to just relax on. Next time you are thinking of Mexico, just do a little research and you will find so many options you would have never imagined.
This is probably stereotypical, but my only reference before visiting Mexico was Southeast Asia. If you have been to those two places you will see many similarities (or at least I did), therefore I expected more or less similar conditions. One thing that shocked me because of this comparison is the extreme hygiene you will find all over Mexico. I would have been fine eating at any of the small local places along the street because they all looked super clean and maintained.
While it might be expectable in the small eateries along the road, this is also true at ferias or any other temporary places. Everything is always clean and hygienic. All the plates are covered in plastic which is changed, so you always have clean plater. Since most of the street food is eatable by hand you do not get cutlery so there is no cutlery to clean. It made me feel very safe to eat any of the food.
Visiting as a white person
Many places I have visited have seen very few white people or just were not aware of how to act around people who look different. Being a blond, blue eyed, very fair while girl, I have been stared at in the past when traveling through China, Southeast Asia, and Morocco. Before coming to Mexico I didn't know how I would feel being so ethnically different from the locals here. Of course, Mexicans are used to white people, but I was not on the coast or Mexico City, but in a smaller city that is not visited that much.
I was happy when I did not feel stared at or stalked most of the time during my visit. I felt safe taking the public bus, walking around the city, and doing any of the other daily tasks. Of course, my boyfriend and I were noticed when walking around since we are an interracial couple, but we did not face any issues during my whole stay. The only time I felt very white was at this local park in a very local neighborhood, but even there nothing happened. This is a big plus for me when it comes to thinking about returning.
The people are aggresive
This is tied into the violent one. People are macho and constantly in fights. They do not like foreigners and always have issues. These are some of the stereotypes people tend to associate with Mexicans. Personally, my experience was completely different. All the people I have met during my travels were friendly and open and happy to meet us. All the family and friends of my boyfriend tried to talk to me even if we could only communicate in my broken Spanish or their broken English sometimes. The women in the stores and restaurants always had smiles on their faces. Overall the culture is just happy and welcoming to everyone around them. It made me feel at home from the very first moment and makes me want to go back because the people have captured my heart.
There you have it. Four things that surprised me or friends of mine when I told them about Mexico. This country has so much to offer so do not let stereotypes stop you from exploring this beautiful country. If you have any others, feel free to share them in the comments below or on social media.