Visiting Mexico is a unique and gratifying experience due to the warmth of its people, the importance of its historic legacy, and the beauty of its natural settings. During your tour across the ancient land of the Mayas and the Aztecs, you will enjoy every moment at its most, and in order for your enjoyment to be complete and free of any inconveniences, bear in mind the following recommendations:
In the city
- Do not neglect your luggage at the airport and do not accept packages or errands from strange people.
- Avoid wearing flashy jewellery and showy wristwatches on your urban tours, mainly in the large cities. Be careful and discreet with your photo and video equipments as well.
- Do not carry too much money on your excursions and carry just one credit card. Besides, do not show openly wads of bills in crowded or seemingly insecure zones. Avoid purses that can be easily snatched away. It is recommendable to use money belts.
- Try to go out with somebody, and if you are travelling alone avoid getting far from safe areas. Avoid walking along poorly lighted and little crowded streets at night. And lastly, ask at the reception desk of your hotel if the place you are going to is safe if possible.
In case of natural disasters
- Never carry drugs, Mexican laws are very severe regarding this matter and the embassies rather not intervene in cases related to illegal substances. On the other hand, if you need several medicines for healthy reasons, carry with you the corresponding recipe.
- If you need to take a taxi, it is advisable to request the service from a known company, especially at nights. The rate is higher but the safety range is wider. The units parked in front of the hotels are another option.
- If you get into a "stray" taxi verify that the driver's ID is placed on a visible place and that the photograph matches the face of that behind the wheel. Sit on the backseat and do not forget to lock the doors. If you notice something suspicious remain calm and ask the driver to pull over and get out of the vehicle.
- In case the police stop you, stay calm and ask for the reason of the intervention. If a police officer tries to intimidate you and slips the chance of a bribe or a "bite", as it is known in Mexico, to solve an inexistent problem, ask to be taken to the nearest police station in order to explain the situation to their superiors, or try to reach your embassy or consulate, for these will frighten any wicked officer.
- If you are going to rent a car to travel along the highways, do not pick up strangers on the road due to safety reasons, and try not to drive at night and mainly along isolated sections, for sometimes gangs of crooks put trees or large rocks on the road to stop vehicles to then assault drivers and passengers alike.
- Female travellers must bear in mind that men usually make flirtatious remarks regarding women in Mexico. Most of the times these compliments are funny and inoffensive, though in case the remark were irreverent do not bother to answer and get out of the area. On the other hand, the presence of lonely women at bars is quite uncommon on inner cities and towns; and the situation worsens at the pulquerías (shops selling pulque, a beverage made of non-distilled maguey), where neither the presence of women is allowed nor that of unknown men.
The immense and vast Mexican territory is not exempt of the sudden and sporadic occurrence of a natural phenomenon.
If a tsunami (Pacific Coast), seismic activity or earthquake (in the centre and south of the country), hurricane (on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean coasts), or volcanic activity (in several points of the country), occurs during your stay in Mexico, follow the recommendations of the local authorities. Besides, since it is best to prevent than to regret, find out about safety measures below:
- In case of an earthquake: stay calm, do not run
and evacuate the place you are in, or look for the safe areas
indicated with arrows inside the buildings. Follow the instructions
given by the authorities and remain attentive for there are
usually replications after a seismic event.
- In case of a hurricane: unlike earthquakes, this
natural disaster is not sudden for it is forecasted with several
days' anticipation, thus facilitating preventive measures. These
phenomena usually take place between May and October. Before
visiting the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean,
be informed about any hurricane alert in the area.
- In case of a tsunami: they are originated by strong
seismic events on the seabed so they can be forecasted with
just minutes or a few hours' anticipation. The Early Alert System
for Tsunamis, an institution of international character, issues
the initial preventive alert for the Pacific.
If you happen to be near the coastline while a strong seismic event (capable of cracking walls) takes place, get away from the coast as a preventive measure (until the authorities rule out the occurrence of a tsunami). On the other hand, if the waters recede exposing large areas of the sea bottom after a quake, seek refuge on the upper zones (at least 30 metres high) and keep away from the creeks for this recession may be a sign of a tsunami approaching.
- In case of volcanic activity: there are several
active volcanoes in Mexico, mainly in the States of Puebla,
Mexico and Morelos, amongst them the Popocatépetl, "Smoking
Mountain" in Nahúatl language, the Fire Volcano of Colima, the
most active between Jalisco and Colima, and the Chichón or Chichonal,
which imposes itself in the State of Chiapas, just to mention
Due to the smoking activity of these giants, there is a system of civil protection in Mexico known as the Semaphore of Volcanic Alert that evaluates the different levels of danger in the areas surrounding the mountains of fire.
The alert system is similar to a street light: a green sign indicates there is no danger, a yellow one means that one must pay attention to the recommendations issued by the authorities, and a red one signifies a state of alert, where you must follow the orders issued by the corresponding authorities; while the purple one marks the return to normality.
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