Published: March 08
Carl says: This review of the latest edition of The Rough Guide To Mexico by our curmudgeonly correspondent, David "El Codo" Eidell, reminds me of why I could never face the harsh realities involved in writing and updating a "real" guidebook. As you'll read below, David sinks his teeth into the author's ankle and doesn't let go until he's shaken our credibility in this once highly respected guidebook title. What do you think? Is this a fair review or is David being just a bit too rough on The Rough Guide? Let us know what you think....
The Rough Guide To Mexico, (2007) 960 pages 75 maps (24-page full-colour introduction) Seventh Edition, Published:UK: July 2007, US: August 2007 (U.K. £15.99, U.S. $26.99, Canada $34.99)
Codo's review: I cannot recommend the 2007 edition of The Rough Guide to Mexico because it contains far too many mistakes, errors, ommissions, and just plain wrong information. Up to a certain point, a guidebook may contain outdated or erroneous info, but after that a reader may intelligently question any and all information contained in the book. In this edition, The Rough Guide to Mexico has far exceeded the permissible limit of mistakes.
For example the book describes the two hundred peso charge for the FMT tourist card as an entry tax when it is actually a fee for the tourist card. RGtM says the FMT is not multiple entry (it absolutely is) and advises readers to "grab a handfull of forms" when leaving the country. This is nonsense. Additionally RGtM specifically alludes to paying for the tourist card if and when a tourist crosses into Belize or Guatemala. What is not said is that cranky Mexican migras (Migración) will raise hell with a tourist who tries to turn in an unpaid-for tourist card. The fine for this is equivalent to one hundred US dollars, plus payment for the tourist card before the individual passes through Mexican customs and into Belize or Guatemala.
The book does not mention that a VISA logo bank ATM card can be used to bond a motor vehicle as well as a "Big Four" credit card.
The Rough Guide to Mexico says that "There are two grades to gasoline, leaded Premium and unleaded Magna Sin". The text further states that Premium has ruined many engines, provoking many complaints. The fact is that leaded gasolines disappeared from Mexican gas stations in the mid to late eighties, and that NOVA, the regular grade of "almost gasoline" disappeared around the turn of the century. All gasolines in Mexico are unleaded. Mexican Premium unleaded is as high in octane as any USA unleaded premium -- in fact, all Premium fuel sold in Mexico is refined in Texas. Mexican "Magna Sin" is good fuel and is tinted a bright green so that any dilution into the more expensive orange tint Premium will be immediately apparent. No US refiner does this to fuel sold in the USA.
According to The Rough Guide to Mexico, Mexican banks are nationalized, when in fact, Mexican banks were privatized many years ago. Many foreign banks (ScotiaBank, HSBC, etc.) operate in Mexico and offer a limited amount of "intra-bank services" to foreign customers using the same bank.
The Rough Guide to Mexico's mistakes go on and on -- northern highways are said to be fraught with bandidos, when in fact it is rural highways in the center and south of Mexico that are the culprits and nefarious activities usually occur between dusk and dawn.
I could continue adding to the list of mistakes but for your sake and mine, let's call it quits. But then there is the straw that broke the camel's back (sigh)...
Why in the world would any publication bent on advocating travel to Mexico do a gruesome report on drug gang warfare in some obscure discotheque in an out of the way city? Yes, it was gruesome (especially to those present) to have decapitated heads bowled across the dance floor. But how many foreign travelers (indeed how many Mexican travelers) will ever visit this out of the way night spot in the city of Uruapan, Michoacan? Other than scaring or disgusting a traveler new to Mexico to the point of cancelling a trip, what is the point of inserting this "information" in a travel guide?
But, having said all that, there are some points in the book that are brilliant, including the author's impressions inside the church at San Juan Chamula, in Chiapas.
For now, however, I shall recommend The Lonely Planet Guidebooks to Mexico and especially the Moon Handbook: Mexico to readers.