Is Mexico Safe for Travel?
With all the recent news of tourists being drugged in Mexico, it’s no wonder people are hesitant to travel there. Behind the beautiful resorts and clear turquoise water are scary stories that are threatening the Mexican Tourism industry. Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
We have traveled to Mexico since 2012. You could say I was a late bloomer on the travel part of my life. I went to school, established a career as a nurse and raised my kids. I was 35 for my first trip abroad and considered myself educated and informed. We planned and planned for months before we left. I spent more time on TripAdvisor than I ever care to admit. Our first trip was planned to a T.
My boyfriend and I stayed at the Iberostar Cozumel. I was immediately in awe of the sheer beauty of the resort. We have nothing like it in the US. Everything was beautiful, stunning, amazing and breathtaking. I took over 2000 pictures during our week stay. I was in love and I never wanted to leave. We laid on the beach, swam in the pool, went on a Snorkel trip and just enjoyed our time together. Sounds like the perfect trip right?
What went wrong
We aren’t big drinkers. We would have the occasional drink with meals and of course some margaritas, after all we were in Mexico. One evening, we went to watch a show at the theatre. We were both drinking water at the point debating who’s turn it was to drink. We agreed not to drink a lot together.
I went to the bar to get a drink and a woman standing there said to me, ‘Hey, you look under 40, want to do a shot?’ Even though I don’t care for shots, I agreed. I regretted it when she ordered 2 shots of Jose Cuervo. Yuck. We did our shots, got a drink and became friends. She grabbed her husband and we went to introduce them to my boyfriend. We watched the rest of the show and decided to head over to the lobby bar when it ended. That’s the last thing I remember.
The rest of this story was told to me by my very protective boyfriend.
As we walked to the bar, he noticed that I was acting much drunker than I should have been after 1 shot and 1 drink. He and the husband stayed back and talked while me and my new friend ordered another drink from the bar, a tequila sunrise. The men started to notice that the staff, both the bartenders going off duty and the security along with a few other locals that were there drinking began surrounding us. It got to the point where they couldn’t see us and they got concerned. The husband went over to get us and the security officer yelled at him that we weren’t leaving because we were having a great time. He went back to my boyfriend, who said ‘I’ll get them.
Let’s go crazy
My boyfriend is 5’ 10” and 200 pound of pure muscle. He’s a great guy until you piss him off. He was also told that we weren’t leaving because we were having fun. At that point he tells me he freaked out and told them that we were in fact leaving right now. They finally relented and let up go. He noted that I hadn’t finished my drink. I apparently skipped back to our room stating loudly that I wanted to go to the disco. I don’t skip and I don’t disco. He told me that he was actually getting irritated with me because he knew I hadn’t drank a lot and thought I was just acting drunk.
We got back to the room where I vomited all night long. My boyfriend, also a nurse stayed up all night watching me making sure I continued to breathe. At this point he became concerned at what was happening to me. Bad alcohol? Food poisoning?
The next morning I woke up to him sleeping in the chair next to the bed and towels all around me. The last thing I remembered was getting the first shot at the first bar.
I woke him up and asked what happened. We had no clue. I even joked that maybe I got roofied, though I didn’t actually believe it. We met up with the friends we had made and her story was eerily similar. We continued our day and left the next day as scheduled. I shudder to think of what would have happened if we had both been drinking that night.
The next chapter
We went home and joked about the story for years. We’ve returned to Mexico, Iberostar Cozumel even every year except 1 since then. This year and last we even took our kids. We’ve never felt unsafe. We were in Isla Mujeres Mexico when the stories starting coming out about tourists being drugged and given bad alcohol. I was lying in bed with my boyfriend sleeping next to me debating whether we needed to pack up and get our kids the hell out of that country. Instead, I stayed up until 2 am researching and trying to logically think. Aside from the first year, we had never had a problem. Did I feel unsafe on Isla? Not even a little bit. Did I ever want to go back to Cozumel? Not at that moment.
The remaining 3 days of our vacation, I was on hyper mom mode. My kids weren’t allowed out of arms reach. The weren’t allowed to lean on anything or go anywhere alone. Not even the bathroom. I had anxiety I couldn’t explain and I was more than ready to get home.
My thoughts on this
Since returning home, I’ve had time to rationally think more. We’ve had tons of fun at Iberostar Cozumel. The dive shop, Dressel Divers is top-notch. Yet I have mixed feelings.
Do I think there is conspiracy and corruption happening in Mexico? Absolutely. Does it happen in every country in the world? Absolutely. I don’t think it’s fair to blame a country or a resort for the actions of 1 or maybe a few bartenders. What happened to me could have easily happened in any city or resort in the US. Do I think people should swear off of Mexico because of these stories? Absolutely not. I do think that it’s critical to stay vigilant when you travel anywhere, Mexico, in the US and everywhere else in the world.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself while traveling.
Register with the state department.
Make copies of your passports.
Give a copy to a trusted friend or relative not traveling with you.
Keep copies on you when leaving the resort. Even having pictures on your phone works.
Keep passports and other valuables locked in the safe at all times.
Remain vigilant. If you’re going to drink, make sure one person in your group remains sober in case things do go wrong.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Treat people with respect and kindness.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any experiences that are similar?