Mexico aversion unjustified

AT RANDOM: Reporter/photographer Jennifer Smith debunks myth that Mexico is dangerous

Shucks, that bullet proof bikini I packed on my recent Mexican vacation didn’t get much use.

Nope. The biggest war wound I came back with were some scrapes on my feet from the flippers I rented to snorkel with the sea turtles.

I guess I’m lucky to have survived. To top it off I made it safely back home with some incredible memories, sun-kissed skin and rejuvenation.

Yes, it was an amazing vacation, free of violence (minus the fight I had with my husband who lost his wedding ring).

But prior to my departure, you would have thought I was headed for disaster, into a drug-and-violence-plagued country.

A heightened fear factor struck the world as news of brutal attacks on tourists hit the media.

News of my planned vacation often prompted such responses:

“Mexico? Are you crazy? Don’t you know how dangerous it is?”

You were made to believe that there are drug lords everywhere, lurking the streets and resorts for Canadians to behead.

I can officially say, from experience, that is just not the case.

Yes, there have been some incidents, but it must be taken into context (keep in mind there are thousands of tourists who visit Mexico every week).

Yes, it could be dangerous. But it could also be dangerous to take a cruise. It could also be dangerous to walk out your front door today.

In every city of every country, there is crime. There are drugs, sex slavery, violence, gangs, murder and more.

That doesn’t stop us from leaving our homes. It just makes us more aware and reminds us to think twice before making bad decisions.

So just as it is right here in Vernon, the same goes for Mexico: unless you’re out at 3 a.m. looking for trouble, trouble probably won’t find you.

Of course there are exceptions. But it doesn’t mean we should abandoned our long-anticipated, and saved-for, vacations out of fear. Nor do you need to pack military-issued protective wear.

Common sense is all you need.

Oh, and sunscreen.

I will admit that my recent vacation to Mexico was unlike the two trips I have taken in previous years.

There is obviously a heightened sense of security in that country – but where is there not?

And yes, our trip was planned and executed in much less of a care-free manner than my previous excursions.

Instead of the quaint little resorts I’ve stayed at before, this time we opted for one three-times the size of Lumby.

The enormous, gated community felt almost like a glamourous prison to me, with guards at each entrance, noting every visitor and cabbie. Don’t get me wrong, the Gran Bahia Principe is gorgeous, the food was incredible, staff was plentiful and pleasant and there were bountiful activities.

But the sheer size of the resort left me dazed. It was a good thing we travelled with another couple (great company I might add) or I might never have found my way to the pool bar or buffet.

It was pure luck that I even found the beach.

I yearned for, but could not afford, an ocean-view room where I could wake up and watch the waves roll in each morning.

Although it was an adjustment, it was still paradise.

Practicing yoga on the white sandy beaches with the turquoise waves splashing beneath my heels was just the ticket.

And despite all the fear-mongering that might leave one quivering even at the thought of being in Mexico, I was more relaxed and at peace there than anywhere I’ve ever travelled.

– Jennifer Smith is a reporter/photographer at The Morning Star. jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com