Booking Tickets to Mexico!

MAYBE!   As I sit here at my desk, drinking coffee, looking at flight prices to Phoenix, Arizona.  I get an e-mail from my mother who asks me to reconsider my trip to Mexico.  For good reason.  What are mothers for?   I love her dearly.  She then tells me to read the latest news blast from the Yahoo home page about the recent shootings from the drug wars.   I am supposed to leave on March 23rd, meeting up with Andrew Burr and Alex Honnold, then we drive south to Hermosillo and then east bound into the mountains of Copper Canyon, then upwards on Logical Progression.  What do you think?  Should we go regardless?  Is it worth it?  What would you do?

Tue Mar 16, 9:12 AM

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The federal government has issued a warning to Canadians who might be venturing into northern Mexico.

The alert comes after two Americans were shot to death across the border from El Paso, Texas last weekend, in Ciudad Juarez. Foreign Affairs in Ottawa is advising Canadians not to travel to that city, if they don’t have to.   The shootings appear to be tied to drug wars and turf battles that have claimed 18,000 lives in Mexico since 2007.  The weekend deaths prompted Texas officials to warn college students to avoid Mexico during their spring break.

But Claire Newell of Jubilee Travel notes that resort spots like Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, Ixtapa and Huatulco are very well policed.  But she says even in safe spots, it’s wise to avoid potential danger by not drinking excessively or by wandering off the beaten track.

In northern Mexico and all cities bordering the United States, organized crime and urban violence affect security. Crimes, murders and firefights linked to drug turf wars have risen substantially, mainly in the states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nuevo Leon and Sinaloa. Canadians travelling to the state of Guerrero should be particularly aware of their surroundings and monitor local news. For further information on travel to Ciudad Juárez, which has been particularly affected by drug-related violence.

Canadians travelling to Mexico should exercise a high degree of caution due to occasional demonstrations and protests, high levels of criminal activity and violence throughout the country.

  • Christian

    I think you should still go, even though there is the travel warning. I know that when my sister went to colombia with her husband there was a travel warning but they went anyways and they were just fine. If I were you I would defiantly go!

  • dg

    sonnie, your mom’s right on this one. live in tucson and have been to copper canyon…

    3-4 yrs ago, you’re fine. now, it is a war zone and copper canyon is a haven for marijuana growers who are not the friendly type if you trespass. i would seriously reconsider traveling anywhere within 300 miles of the border now. let alone through hermosillo corridor, which means you’re traveling through nogales, etc. if you do go, be safe

  • Sonnie

    Thanks for the thoughts guys, it sounds serious for sure, but I’m leaning towards that we will still go, however it’s got to be a group decision. Here’s a question, if we do go, how do we “play safe” any tips?

  • Joel

    I am in el potero chico right now. It is amazing and the limestone is sweet.
    Book those tickets.

  • I would probably go, but would be super careful.

    As for tips, I don’t know about drug violence specifically, but having traveled a bit in South America (and gotten assaulted in Quito), I would say the usual applies: be very careful how you dress up and what gear (be it climbing stuff, camera, even watch or sunglasses) you have on yourself, you’ll want to be as nondescript and average looking as possible. Try never to wander alone, especially at night. Ask locals (taxi drivers and hotel staff are best) which areas are reasonably safe and which ones you should really avoid. Keep an eye on your stuff at all times, especially in the crowd. On buses or even domestic planes, never use overhead racks, always put your bag below your seat with a strap around your leg and a padlock on the zip. Keep your passport with you at all times, and have copies in different places, it usually speeds up things with the embassy if the real thing gets stolen. Try to get out of the cities as fast as possible, this is where most of the trouble is concentrated, and countryside tends to be much safer (unless you infringe on drug plantations, of course…).

  • coolhandluke

    I agree with Dg, I think it’s not an ideal time to be heading to Nogales.

  • Elliott

    If one of you speaks spanish, you should be fine, as long as you aren’t in juarez.

  • Morgan

    Go but pack your “Yo no soy americano” t-shirt.

  • Neel

    At any given time, there’s bound to be a high risk travel advisory to mexico, anywhere in south america, thailand, nepal, etc. I’d say just be sensible, and use more caution than you normally would (avoid dope smugglers, but free solo to your heart’s content).

  • Wow, tough call on that one Sonnie. Especially hearing the news on CBC this morning about the 13 tourists who were killed in a tourist zone… Puerto Vallarta (if I recall correctly) , and the mention of some of them being de-capitated. I’ve traveled a lot in South America and to countries that have had numerous travel alerts but this one is different. You are heading into the middle of a very serious drug war. Taking the “backpacker precautions” may not be enough this time around. These guys aren’t out to steal your passport or your gear, they’re out to kill you if you cross their path when they are in a bad mood. Normally I’d say go for it but for some reason my gut says stay the hell away from there for the time being.

  • Sonnie

    Oh man, this is freaking me out. Seems like the advice above is about 50/50. I haven’t booked yet. Burr and Honnold are still okay in going but they expressed understanding both sides, I told them if they go, I’ll go. Sort of reminds me of when Tommy and Beth went to K-stan. I remember so many of our mutual friends telling them they shouldn’t go. They took a chance, and they got very, very lucky. But this is also, a different kind of war.

    On one hand, the media does a great good job of scaring people into thinking it’s like gangbusters on every corner, like some Clint Eastwood film, and once you’re there, you realize it’s not as big of a concern as you once thought, on the other hand 18,000 lives since 2007 is a LOT, not to mention the beheading of American tourists, sounds pretty terrifying. There’s nothing a bullet proof vest can do about that one.

    I do LOVE climbing however, and adventure, and where else can you get 2800 feet of limestone sport climbing? Sounds delectable. This timing just SUCKS. My lady is not happy with me.

  • No Offence

    The more ya think about it, the less sense it makes. READ THIS.

  • mike sampson

    Those who live outside of the boundaries of society live by primal rules.

    So they respond to extreme respect, no attitude, mouth shut, and a: “I’m living by my beliefs and minding my own damn business” mindset.

    Mexico drug biz is not K-stan, but if your relationship is important…

    Just my point of view–thanks for the varied kaleidoscope blog info!

  • Scott

    Sonnie I can’t really relate as I have never travelled anywhere super sketch (as in Pelton’s “Most Dangerous Places” but I have been to Russia 5x and it can be a bit sketch there. In October I got stuffed into the back of a Russian cop car by a cop with an AK-47 around his shoulder. $90 bribe and I was punted back out to the streets. Good memories now but a bit unnerving at the time…I’d go but stay the hell away from the border and be paranoid as hell till you are out in the boonies. Just remember although tourist down (swine flu and the narco war) there is still MILLIONS of people travelling to Mexico every year. It seems to me that in Mexico you can be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time…but that can happen even at home!
    Good luck whatever you decide to do.

  • Dino

    Could you and the other guys just head for a different destination? Can’t imagine it’ll be a fun trip if you’re having to worry about your safety the whole time.

  • elias

    As a mexican(and obviously climber) , my opinion could be misunderstood but what the hell. So, sonnie, the situation here is pretty serious because cartels are very dangerous and they don’t give a fuck who you are OR where you come from. You could be from mexico city, juarez, cancun or even thailand!!! you mess with them and you’ll surely be in a very fucked up problem. BUT !!!!!!! you must know that chihuahua is a very large state and people from these places a very very VERY nice and foreigners are treated like they are supposed to be. you’ll be camping or staying at basaseachic, in the middle of nowhere, i have friends right now at EL GIGANTE wall looking for some 14+ routes…and you know what they say???? ” IT’S FUCKIN AWESOME, IF YOU LIKE HAVING FUN THIS IS A MUST!!!!!”.
    However, yeah, please be careful but don’t panic, remember this is drug cartel matter and I don’t know you personally but you surely seem like very respectful person so you shouldn’t have ANY problems……if you need any information, you have my mail…. the best of lucks!!!!

  • uber

    forget what may happen to you. if you die you’re gone.

    think about what will happen to those that love you and are left in this world without you in it anymore.

    i know you risk that by climbing, but at least with climbing you have some input on the safety. you won’t with the idiots doing all the damage down there.

    your mom is asking you to be careful probably because she’s thinking of what life would be like if something did happen to you.

    be safe…

  • Nancy

    I lived in Guadalajara for four years, and I knew, intimately, people involved in drug trafficking there and Mexico City. They told me never to mess with anyone in Sinaloa…this was during the 70’s. What’s going on now is beyond belief…it’s serious shit, Sonnie. I’m a mom, too, and I wouldn’t want my dear one voluntarily going into a war of any kind…and this shit is NUTS. These guys aren’t going to ask for your passport, Gringo, to see if you’re American or Canadian; it’s all the same to them. They will feel no remorse. They get off killing people with IMPUNITY! No one can touch them. And, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s over.

    One thin’s for chure, Gringo: they’re not blowing up Copper Canyon; the limestone will be there long after these turf wars are over. And, when they have all killed each other, and the dust has settled, you’ll be able to go and climb. In the meantime, find some good rock where the bullets aren’t flying. Seriously.

  • Drew

    I was in El Potrero Chico Mexico earlier in the year, and I had myself a great time. One thing you must remind yourself that with millions of tourists visiting Mexico during each year there is bound to be killings. this especially rings true in such a volatile area in the world. With this said you must look at the probability of anything of consequence happening. It is incredibly low especially if you are going to middle of no where Mexico. I am almost certain you will be fine just bring along a large supply of common sense and you will be fine.

    Go you will have fun…

  • burr

    just grow a big mexi mustache like me!
    and we’ll lower the truck, add some ground effects, and waaaa’laaaa – we’ll fit right in.

  • Apes

    I didn’t read all the above comments, maybe someone already mentioned this but I will do it again anyways even if it has already been said…..

    Remember a year or 2 ago that little incident that happened on the Old Greyhound (stabbing/beheading) well…. apparently there was a travel advisory for people travelling to Canada. We all know how safe the Greyhound usually is. Anyways, I dont know who put out the advisory and such, but ya, just sayin, that’s all. I think you are good to go. Trust your instinct and don’t let your guard down.