Updated December 17, 2010Border Towns - Should You Go?
When you are in the Southwest, it is very tempting to cross the border for a little shopping and Mexican culture. Sonora, our Mexican state to the South, has an advertising campaign running on television enticing visitors to drive over the border with ease. You do not have to stop and register your car when crossing into Sonora, they promote..."Sonora Get's It!"
With seniors traveling on a daily basis from Yuma to Algodones for dental care, prescriptions and eyeglasses, it is hard to believe that eight Sonoran cities made the list of the 121 Mexican municipalities with the most violence per capita. But are tourist areas in Mexico dangerous? The U.S. State Department, in an article covering Spring Break in Mexico, advises common sense. “While the vast majority enjoy their vacations without incident, several may die, hundreds will be arrested and still more will make mistakes that could affect them for the rest of their lives. Using some common sense will help travelers avoid these unpleasant and dangerous situations.
Watch for Alerts
The State Department issues travel alerts that can keep up updated on areas to avoid. Here is the website.
RV Safety Tips
I have friends that take RV trips into Mexico. They have a great time but have cautious words for others. They advise:
- Caravan with people that know the language and the safe roads.
- If you break down, make sure others know and stay with you.
- If police stop you, go with them to the police station but take your license plates with you. (to avoid theft)
There are some good articles and resources to read before planning an RV trip to Mexico. One article includes a concise list of things to do and bring.
My friends consider Rolling Homes Press as their RV "bible" when traveling in Mexico. Their website also has some great information and updates to their books.
Common Sense Safety Tips for the Visitor
- Stay in groups
- Stay in the usual tourist areas (gift shops, restaurants, hotel areas)
- Watch your drinking. A person appearing drunk is a sure target for theft.
- Be extra careful to follow the laws. Don't drink and drive, use illegal drugs, bring guns or drugs over the border, etc.
- Take care of yourself. Bring water over the border to avoid dehydration. Wear sunscreen. Bring a list of your prescriptions and basic medical information with you.
- Have an emergency contact and phone number written down.
- If you need assistance, 911 service on U.S. cell phones will work in Puerto Penasco, San Carlos and Guaymas.
- The U.S. Consulate in Puerto Penasco. During business hours call (01-631) 311-8150. After hours and weekends, call (01-631) 302-3342.
- Know the hours of your border crossing point. Not all are open 24 hours.
Violence in Sonora
Eight Sonoran cities made the list of the 121 Mexican municipalities with the most violence per capita:
8. San Luis Río Colorado
17. Agua Prieta
50. Ciudad Obregón
Source: Secretaría del Desarrollo Social de Mexico as published by the U.S. Department of State Consular Information Sheet
Visitors to the border region, including cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales, Reynosa and Matamoros, should remain alert and be aware of their surroundings at all times. While this is an official head’s up, isn’t this good advice for any major city or area where the crime rate is higher than average? There are areas of Phoenix and other Southwest cities where I wouldn’t travel except with others and in the bright midday light.