I’ve never been a very adventurous girl, which is why my friends and family were shocked when I announced that I wanted to move to Cancun, Mexico back in 2005, at the tender age of 19.
Since I moved to Cancun 7 years ago, I’ve seen its reputation in international media transform from tropical paradise to drug-ridden death trap. How can this be, when Cancun hasn’t changed at all?
The American and Canadian media have a field day with Mexico year after year. Mexico-bashing seems to be all the rage up north, especially close to Spring Break season, and I’m not sure if this negativity is to sell more stories or keep tourism dollars north of the border. The Mexico portrayed in the news is certainly not the Mexico I see every single day.
During my years living in Cancun, I have never seen drugs, violence, dead bodies, shootouts, kidnappings, or any of the other horrors the media would have you believe are common occurrences. I take taxis and city buses several times a day, I walk around the city by myself at night, I feel comfortable going up to strangers to ask for directions and I go out to nightclubs on a regular basis. I take the same basic precautions one would take in any city, and I’ve never once felt unsafe.
Nearly every weekend, my husband, my friends and I have a blast at local bars and clubs, or we explore the region with trips to close-by destinations like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Holbox and Akumal.
It truly angers me to read reports on violence in Mexico. Yes, bad things happen here, just like in any other country, but is it fair to base a country’s reputation on its worst headlines? Popular US tourist destinations like Orlando and New Orleans have considerably higher homicide rates than Mexico’s top tourist destinations as evidenced in this Lonely Planet article, yet would-be travelers still continue to question the safety of a vacation in Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and other amazing cities.
At 26, my life really is like a vacation, living in a safe city and visiting tropical beaches whenever I like. I wear flip-flops all the time, and the most stressful part of my day is deciding whether to leave the windows open or turn on the air conditioning.
Laura Winfree is an American blogger and travel copywriter who has been living in Cancun, Mexico since 2005. You can read more about her life and adventures south of the border at Gringation’s Blog