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Manage episode 203149985 series 2199051
There has been alot of demand for my stories related to Mexico. I recorded a podcast on the things I learned about life driving to Mexico. While I talk about my journey in there, I could get more gritty and detailed about the actual trip in case people decide to do it.
I don't want to discourage anyone, but I do want to let you know the facts so you can make your own determination.
But before I launch off, let me leave you with this caveat so anyone who reads this who may disagree will back the fuck up.
People are not going to like this article but sorry, the truth hurts.
Mexico is not a safe country. Reason being, criminals are statistically rarely prosecuted for their crimes. 97% of homicides go unsolved, relative to only 26% in the United States. You can't legally carry or own a firearm to protect yourself like in the United States and if you get caught with one they will put you in prison.
That being said, here we go.
Most of the content on the internet about driving a camper, rv or motorhome through Mexico is either wrong, outdated, written to please (written in a non controversial and non opinionated way)/ blissfully ignorant and does not to explain the reality of making this journey - I understand why people write and create content in the different voices they do. They want to appeal to the broadest audience possible without ruffling any feathers or being controversial. But that is dangerous and stupid. Because reading shit like that is exactly what I'm writing shit like this. Because people failing to tell the reality and disclose all information and accurate information could result in someone being hurt, killed, kidnapped or any other range of bullshit. The words I write here are based on my own personal experience and the reality of the situation and not a need to be accepted or become a youtube star. All these videos of happy families driving through Mexico and caravans of people, whatever the fuck, that is not the reality of the situation. So either those people are completely stupid for being blissfully ignorant of the reality or they are not giving an accurate depiction of what a solo and non curated caravan looks like. I mean, when you travel in a camper through the United States do you always do it with 20-30 RV's? No you don't. And why don't you? Because you feel safe and you know the landscape.
Driving to Mexico in a camper is dangerous by American standards - Robbery, kidnapping and shitty roads are a reality of Mexico that no American will ever have to worry about relative to preserving their own life when they are in America. Just because you don't get robbed or read a blissfully ignorant article on the internet about Mexico doesn't mean your whole life won't change in a split second because you're trying to apply an American mentality to a foreign country that is still developing. In America, these things are not as possible and not as probable. In Mexico everything is possible and everything is probable depending on your knowledge and street smarts relative to surviving in an unknown environment. So until Mexico figures out how to secure its country and uphold the law, I'm going to continue talking shit about it so people don't get themselves hurt or killed.
Steer clear of active cartel areas or drug trafficking corridors/cities - They call it the Sinaloa Cartel or the Cartel del Gulfo for a reason. It's because that's where those motherfuckers live and operate. While these areas undoubtedly have some beautiful scenery, you should avoid them and save it for your netflix binge on national geographic. Let them go there and risk their lives, but you shouldn't. There are plenty of amazing places in Mexico you can visit that are not tourist traps with a lower exposure to potential danger. I mean these guys aren't out to fuck with tourists, but if they have cops, military and DEA agents watching them and you pull out your drone or expensive camera with a football lens on it wearing aviator shades, then you are going to look like a DEA agent. The states of Sinaloa, Tamalipas are to be avoided. As far as other states, just google to see which other ones could present a problem or look at the CIA world factbook or State department website for ideas.
The rig you choose is critical - Mexico's roads are shitty overall. People and articles on the internet talk about these nice smooth tollroads. Depending on where you are in the country that could be true or could be total bullshit. I drove down toll roads that were nicer than other Mexican roads but then changed to the shittiest stretches of highway I have ever seen within a blink of an eye. That being said, keeping this in mind is going to be critical to the rig you choose. If you want to have fun, experience as much as you can I would recommend purchasing either a Class B or Class C motorhome no longer than 26'. The ideal rig would be one of those Mercedes panel vans or whatever the fuck. One of those ones that is a glorified van that has a small toilet, shower and bed in it. This will give you the most versatility in the country.
You're going to need cash - Mexico is a cash and carry country. Yes, a lot of places accept credit cards, but if they don't you need to be prepared to pay in cash. I exchanged about $1,000 USD in Laredo, Texas before I crossed the border. I used every bit of that for gas, tolls and police bribes. You might even look at breaking it up and stashing it in different parts of your vehicle in the event that the police detain you and want a bribe, they won't know how much money you have.
If you're white/American/foreign, prepare to be discriminated against - I was detained by the police or military a total of 10 times. 5 times going down and 5 times coming back. I had to bribe the police once, because they made up what I thought was a bullshit rule just to get money out of me. It said that tourists were not allowed to drive between the hours of 5am and 11am on certain days in the states of Mexico and/or Puebla where Mexico City and Puebla, two massive cities are located. This is in fact accurate, but it's still a bullshit law. Not only is it a bullshit law, but they didn't issue me a ticket for breaking that "law". The cop said either I pay a $4,000 peso bribe to him or I would be detained further. That was the ticket. After some negotiation, I paid this fuckstick his bribe and he wrote some special characters on my license plate that would indicate to the other Polocia Estatal throughout the country that I paid the brotherhood already. I like to call this a tourist tax. Of course it's total bullshit but that's the way things work there. It took me a while to shake off the feeling of being raped financially but you get used to it depending on how long you decide to stay. Anyways, my point is that if you are white, the chances you will be fucked with by the police are high. They see you as a payday for them, so try to do your best to not look white.
A camper is an exotic vehicle in Mexico - Camper culture is an American thing. While you might see campers in Mexico, it is rare. If you even see one is going to be relative to the time of year you decide to take your journey. There are still snowbirds that travel to Mexico during the Winter months, but I didn't see them even by the time I left at the end of November. Keep this in mind. The more unique and exotic you look the more attention you are going to naturally attract. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be in Mexico, especially if it projects and image that makes you look like you are a person of means.
Don't make unnecessary stops - If you have an end destination like Puerto Vallarta or Tulum or wherever, don't make unnecessary stops in places you have not researched. Rural areas are not policed and just like anywhere in the world the less people that are around the more potential that something could happen without anyone knowing. Just be aware of this and don't go off the beaten path. I mean I did by accident a few times and I did while I was living in Tulum but anytime you do this you increase the likelihood of a potential issue.
There are few RV Parks remaining and services are nearly non existent - There was one RV park in Saltillo, Mexico that was actually there when I showed up. All the rest were difficult to get to with my rig and not worth the stress. The challenge with this is that if you do have a camper and plan on utilizing, you're going to have to eventually dump your tanks. The problem is that there is no place to do this. There are literally no places to dump your waste. That in itself is a deal breaker.
Carry a Big Blue Tank for your sewage, then find someone with a septic tank that will let you pay them to dump it. Don't forget, when you use toilet paper, always throw it in the trash. - Because the chances that you will just be able to pull up to someone's septic tank will be rare, you should carry a Big Blue or portable sewage tank with you so you can empty your man tanks and then use the portable one to dump it in a septic tank. Now that I think about it, you might actually be able to find a septic tank easily and dump it directly from your vehicle, but only if you are driving something small enough to get down the streets or pull next to buildings. Sometimes the septic cisterns are located under huge cement doors on the sidewalk. Go in and see who owns it and ask them. Or just ask them if they know a place you can dump. They'll work with you, especially if you pay them like $5-$10 USD to do so. That can be a day's worth of work, depending on who you give it to.
Carry a generator if you need high voltage power - Don't count on finding a 30 amp RV connection anywhere. It's just not going to happen. Even when I developed my own lot in Tulum it was a fucking huge ordeal to get 30amp power dropped in just so I could run my air conditioner. Because of this I ran off a generator for nearly a month. It was fucking expensive but that was the only option.
Gas is significantly more expensive in Mexico than America - I paid on average about $3.75 to $4.00 per gallon of gas when I was in Mexico. At that same time, the gas in America was going for pretty much an all-time low of about $2.00 per gallon. That's quite a disparity. It was basically double the price. Just be aware of this so you can plan. Gas is measured in litres there, so make the conversion and budget for it.
Gas stations outside of toll booths are the safest place to say in your RV in Mexico - Toll Booths usually have lots of police and military and gas stations have lots of lights, trucks, people and activity. This is why gas stations right outside toll booths can be the ideal place to sleep in your camper for the night throughout your journey. Just consider it your RV park without any services. It's like boon docking.
What the whole trip costs - It cost me about $1,000 USD to get from Dallas, Texas to Tulum, Mexico in gas, tolls, bribes and incidentals. I guess that's not too bad. The largest cost was gas. The second largest cost was making a $250 donation to the Mexican authorities against gringos (MAAG) or (FAG) Fabios against Gringos fund to allow me to continue my journey. My lot with electricity in Tulum was $400 per month plus the $600-$700 it cost to develop it. All and all the trip really wasn't any cheaper than living in any large city in America. It was just a different experience.
I don't want to discourage you, I just want to give you accurate information based on proven experience - If you don't give a fuck like me and you want that adventure of a lifetime, then go for it. Just make a plan and don't be stupid. If you want to talk further about it or need more guidance, I offer consultations for $250 on this, believe me, it will be money well spent.