Mexico Route: Avoiding encounters of the other kind

There are three friends travelling the world. Their names are Lina, Paddy and Thijs. In 2016 they travel with a budget of 1000 USD per person through Central America. Their preferred mode of transport was by hitchhiking and sleeping arrangements were mostly organized through couchsurfing.com. In one of their videos they show a map 2015 Mexico Piece Index (min 30.16) indicating that there are some places in Mexico you should consider if you really want to go there (link to Video). So after watching the video I immediately went looking after that map they were showing. Just today I downloaded the most recent Mexico Piece Index map and this comes as no surprise 2018 has changed compared to the videos map and forgive me that I don’t make the comparison here as I’m more interested in the 2018 map as it is relevant for my tour planning. Obviously I’d like to avoid unpleasant encounters in Mexico or any other country I’ll be travelling.

Source: Institute of Economics and Piece, 2018 Mexico Piece Index

Source: Institute of Economics and Piece, 2018 Mexico Piece Index

In the report they point out main reasons of high homocide/feminicide rate. Organized crime does not hold back to kill people in public spaces as they wont to send a signal to the oponent cartels. Young mexican guys are the main target of shootings connected with drug cartel activities. Use of fire weapons is on the rise and again connected with drug cartels. The institutional capacity to deter these crimes is still assessed as being weak.

There are reasons why I chose my current route and it goes through some of the orange provinces. I will start in Puerto Vallarta and go to Guadalajara because I want to experience the Dias de los Muertos in Guadalajara. If you go on the US Department of State they advise (link) you to reconsider your travel in the state of Jalisco. The next thing I’d like to see is the Monarch Butterfly sanctuaries where millions of monarch butterflies stop in a forest in Michoacan another orange state. The advise there is simply do not travel there except for the toll road 15D. So I am now a little bit in a clinch how much risk is really necessary for my life and I’ve decided to not fly to Puerto Vallarta but get out in Mexico City International Airport and go directly to Teotihuacan where the Sun and Moon pyramides are. Opposite to Jalisco and Michoacan for Mexico City increased caution is advised. This also does not sound encouraging but is better than reconsidering your travel plans or in other words simply don’t go there.

I’ve arranged already my accomodation nearby Teotihuacan and on the next day I will be biking to Puebla where the coloring changes to green. For Puebla the same increased caution is advised. This advise will continue down to the Istmo region where US government employees are not allowed to go. I will bike down to Juchitan de Zaragoza but will not take the toll road 190 indicated in the advise but go directly from Oaxaca to the Pacific Cost to Puerto Angel and bike along the Pacific Coast to Juchitan de Zaragoza. From there I will take the bus to Tuxtla Gutiérrez visit the Canon del Sumidero stay overnight and than take the bus to Palenque and cycle back to Agua Azul Waterfalls. In April 2018 two bikers a german and polish citizen where killed near of Ocosingo. The polish guy was killed by a bullet in his head and the german was beaten to death. Ocosingo is halfway to Palenque. Another advantage is that after Palenque the level difference is only 500 meters. After that I’ll go to Yucutan and there normal or in US State Department language increased cuation is advised. These are my plans so far other than that I am observing other cyclotourist on Instagram and their routes.

If by any means you have further knowledge of the region and can advise me please contact me. I am not only interested in cautionary tales but any exiting stuff you know about Central America.