The People's Guide To Mexico

Best of Mexico

Safety In Mexico

Is Mexico Still Safe?

by Michael and Senor David "El Codo" Eidell
Published January 09

Hello David,

I found your email address on the Peoples Guide to Mexico website. I have a couple of questions, if you don't mind. I do enjoy reading your additions to the site....very entertaining and informative!
1st question: My wife and I are retired and had been living down in southeast Arizona and so much has been in the news about how unsafe it is to cross into Mexico especially in Nogales, Naco, Agua Prieta....

Hi Michael,
I just turned 62 and am enjoying my retirement. Thank you for the kudos --- sometimes armchair travel is all that some folks can enjoy. I do hope that sensational news reports aren't going to color your impression of Mexico incorrectly. I think it best if I insert my answers within the text of your letter:

Border towns have never been a great inspiration. Nogales on both sides of the border is at best more than a bit seedy. I do believe that those crossings that manage to avoid extensive travel in downtown and suburbs may be the best choice for crossing the border. Mex 1D through Tijuana seems to be OK as is Mex 57D out of Piedras Negras (Eagle Pass) 45D From El Paso, and Mex 15-D through Nogales.

Here is a not-so-comical prescription to find almost certain "trouble". Go to a border town or one within a hundred miles. Frequent a disco or cantina where the hard core younger generation like to mix & mingle. Use drugs or worse yet, purchase drugs preferably in large quantities.

None of us seem to fit that profile, so we are automatically limited to less than say one-tenth of one percent chance that we are even going to be aware of anything amiss. I remember in our little village when someone found six sacks of pot hidden a few miles off the road, caused big local headlines. Sounded dire. The truth was that a hundred military and police types were in the village for a couple of days and the owners of the village tiendas had two of the biggest sales days in their history. The cops and soldiers mostly stood around swapping jokes and laughing.

We took a 3 day trip down the Sonoran River Valley and enjoyed it much. Do you still feel Mexico is safe to visit?


Carl Franz gives excellent advice and tips in the People's Guide to Mexico. The advice is just as valid in 2009 as it was in 1972 when the first edition was printed. Drinking in cantinas, or using drugs (purchasing especially) eliminates the safety buffer that normal tourists enjoy. We don't drive at night, we don't prowl pitch black beaches at night, camp in locations where there is no one else around, or prowl run down barrios in large cities. I do none of that here so why should I believe that doing the same in Mexico would be any safer.

Are there definitely areas to avoid?

Again, absolutely!

Within a hundred miles of the border except for perhaps Ensenada. Places outside the gringo trail in northern Mexico. Deserted beach camping anywhere. I am extremely conservative all the way down Mex 15 to Mazatlan because the sierra is dope growing territory and highways are all part of the dope shipment corridor. But the Copper Canyon, Alamos, Guaymas, San Carlos areas are all safe.

Even the army base in Sierra Vista, AZ has told the soldiers that Nogales is off limits for them.

In March of 1966, when I "graduated" from class 004 at Navy boot camp in San Diego, I remember standing in formation as a grizzled Chief Petty Officer told us in no uncertain terms that "Tijuana is OFF LIMITS!"

We have traveled a lot in Mexico and really enjoyed but with all this latest activity my wife is now hesitant to head down south anymore.

Take a jaunt to say Mazatlan and then celebrate in perhaps Plaza Machado in which you may feel a bit sheepish about being unduely concerned.

Prudence is entirely different from paranoia.

Our best trip was getting on a Mexican bus and doing 2000 miles up and down the Baja Peninsula....a great memory.

2nd question: Most of the things I look at on the Peoples Guide website seems to be old....half a year or more. How are Carl and Lorena? Are they updating the website at all?

I sure hope that they update the site. It is so sad to return month after month and find everything the same. It's like visiting when all the furniture is draped with covers.

Lorena's editoral note:
Sarcasm does not become you señor Codo. As Carl once noted, "This website is run entirely by two aging hippies, in a drafty old log cabin in the north Cascades, off the grid and with a cranky satellite connection."

Same with Carl & Lorena: I sure hope that they remain healthy and vigrous!

Thanks so much for any info.

ps What is rentmexbungalow? Cheap bungalows for rent in some Mexican town??

Ahem! Cheap? The bungalows are rustic but apparently beloved by a lot of folks from all over Mexico, from Germany, Russia, the UK, Australia, Canada, and the US. The bungalows therefore must remain affordable. My Mexican customers really appreciate the fact that the rates have not skyrocketed. There are some images on the People's Guide website.

Rates are 400 pesos per day and the room have a full kitchen. The place is perched on a bluff overlooking the blue Pacific and hundreds of passing whales.



he People's Guide to Mexico
13th edition
Discover why generations of travelers say they wouldn't cross the border without it! Read the award-winning book: The People's Guide to Mexico

Support The People's Guide to Mexico. Click the frog - Donate!

©1972-2009 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
-paypal button-1.html