Some of you may know that I have been interning at Vanity Fair this semester. Last week at the office I was browsing through vanityfair.com and found an article on the Mexican drug wars entitled "The Terror." (http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/10/drug-wars-in-mexico-201010)
Uh-oh, I think, this won't be good. However I found Ed Vuillamy's article to be fair, interesting, and a huge relief. Yes, there are bad things happening in Mexico, and yes we need to do something about it. But Vuillamy makes it very clear that the drug wars mainly affect Northern Mexico, and that the U.S. plays a huge role in them by buying the drugs and supplying the drug lords with weapons. In fact, he paints Obama's administration as being very proactive in helping Mexico reverse the cycle it's in.
Reading Vuillamy's article got me to thinking about the interplay between tourism and violence. We all want to think of our tropical vacation as relaxing languorously on a beach somewhere and ingesting a margarita every now and then. We don't like to think about pickpockets and car thieves and kidnappings. But these things happen, and they happen everywhere. Can anyone honestly say they live in a crime-free town anymore, where children can stay out unattended on the streets until suppertime? I doubt it. Our world is a slightly harsher reality than we'd like to believe it is, and that applies no matter where we are on earth.
If you're looking for a reason not to come to Tulum, you'll find one. But I think you'll find hundreds more reasons why you should come to Mexico, and to Tulum especially. Sure, crime exists. But no one can change that. You can however learn to be a responsible and savvy traveler, a skill that will follow you throughout your travels and your life. And chew on this: I'm a 21 year old blonde college female-- if I can learn to be safe in New York City, then anyone can learn to be safe anywhere.
Chelsea's safe traveling tips:
Be alert, do not wear headphones or play on your phone
Keep your valuables in the safest place possible. This is usually not on your person, unless you absolutely must
Learn the exchange rate between your own currency and the currency of the country you are visiting. Don't be the person who spends $40 on a shot glass