One of Our Biggest Rules in Life: Discover Things for Yourself!
One thing Hillary and I have found in our short life as travelers, is to experience things for yourself instead of relying upon the opinions of others.
We recently traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and had a blast! Many would tell you that Mexico is extremely dangerous and to avoid it at all costs! The gangs and drug cartels are rampant and Americans are not safe there! While it is true that gangs, drugs, and violence are major issues in Mexico, it is also true that most tourists areas are extremely safe. It is important to note that these issues are not exclusive to Mexico and can be problematic in Dallas, Chicago, New York, LA, or even little West Monroe, Louisiana. Do you fear going to walk the Miracle Mile? Walking down Broadway? If you do, maybe I can change your mind.
The U.S. Department of State notes that “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.” They do go on to explain the importance of being aware of your surroundings, not acting flashy, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to end up in the wrong part of town while in a foreign country, I sure don’t want to be robbed and I would hate for anything to happen to Hillary, but the reality is that all of these things are just as likely to happen in Dallas as they are discovering the beaches of Costa Rica. I urge you to do your research before you travel out of the country, make sure that you are staying in a safe neighborhood, and double check with the State Department for any warnings. However, I also urge you to be curious and open to new ideas and to new cultures. What may seem like a dangerous area to you in Costa Rica, may really be a pretty nice, safe neighborhood! One thing that I always tell Hillary is to be aware of what the standards are in the area. What do the buildings look like in the areas that have been deemed safe? What kind of stores are there? What are the people dressed like? Etc. Based off of this information, you can make better assessments of your surroundings. If all of a sudden you walk down two blocks and the buildings are rotting, the people are dressed differently and acting differently, and the types of stores change, it may be a good idea to reassess the situation and determine if this is a good area for you to be in. By the way, this tactic can be used in Chicago just as much as it can in Brasilito, Costa Rica!
Don’t skip out on going to a destination just because of what you see on the news, what your parents tell you, or what your preconceived ideas about the destination are. Find out for yourself! Don’t live your life like a parrot, repeating adages or ideas that you have heard from others! Get out there and experience things for yourself. I thought Puerto Vallarta, Mexico would be a tourist destination full of resorts and Gringos. I was half right. While there are many hotels and resorts, most of the people we saw and interacted with were vacationing from Mexico. This really made the trip cool for us because we were able to experience the life and culture of the locals as well as Mexicans in general. Also, I did not think that Puerto Vallarta would be dangerous, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I walked away from that city feeling as though the nicest people in the world live in Puerto Vallarta! Had we simply listened to the news, we would have never had those great experiences!
Here is another example. Just a few weeks ago there was a drug bust right across the parking lot from where we were staying! I am talking agents on the roof, flash bang grenades, kicking down doors, repossessing cars, the whole deal! It was like the movies. It was truly a traumatic event for my wife as she was fearing for her life as she heard explosions going off all around the apartment. This event happened in Dallas in our very own apartment complex. We don’t live in a bad neighborhood and neither of us could imagine that situation playing out in real life. But it did.
Bad things can happen anywhere. Sure they are more likely to happen in certain areas of the world, that’s where your research comes in to play. However, don’t live your life in fear. Explore, be adventurous, be accepting of other people’s ideas and cultures and you will not be disappointing. It’s true that you could be pick pocketed, abducted, or aboard a hijacked aircraft. It seems that “these days” those things are happening all too often. Don’t let these events scare you into living a life of more seclusion and separation. Live life with excitement and curiosity for what will come next and be willing to experience things for yourself!
Keep it Kinetic,