Looking up anything having to do with travel in Mexico and of course the danger issue comes up right away. Drugs, beheadings, kidnappings, rape, robbery-the whole catalog of contemporary terror is thrown in your face along with the laundry list of do’s and don’t’s to protect your person.
Having gone through this literature before my recent trip to DF or Mexico City it was hard to keep my mind off what I was reading- making sure I took the right precautions to insure I wouldn’t fall victim to Mexican crime. I even when out and got one of those envelope type things for money, passport etc. that you can hang around your neck under your shirt.
As soon as we arrived in the DF airport. I took it off feeling stupid and disgusted with myself for falling for the fear-based programming. And while there’s certainly violent crime in Mexico-most of it is concentrated along our border and in cities throughout Mexico with links to that activity.
But as far as DF goes, any half-way experienced traveler from around the globe is going to be able to navigate this city well without any undue fear. Yes it’s a city of 25 million people so of course there are less than desirable areas-especially at certain times and for certain people. But the fact is the murder rate here for instance is much lower than any number of cities in the US llike Miami and Detroit.
We found the the people of DF incredibly welcoming, gracious, and open-more so than many European and certainly cities north of the border. You can get all kinds of tips about how you should dress, look and so on but my basic recommendation would be don’t go to DF looking like you’re there to mow their lawns and don’t be a showoff. It’s a global city so a muted, wardrobe tending towards darker colors works fine-maybe forget the white trainers.
We wandered all over the city. Staying in the Centro Historical area we were only a few blocks from the heart of Mexico City the gigantic Zocalo plaza-which has something going on every day and night it seems-as well as being the focal point for large political gatherings and music venues for the public.
At night, as everywhere, a different feeling comes over a city. One night after observing various groups of Aztec dancers (subject of a future post) we began walking into the surrounding areas. Within a few blocks the streets got quiet and darker. Another world. There was some music blasting from some little hole in the wall place that sold something we couldn’t make out. A few people and a much grittier look-the kind of area I like walking through.
We did for a while until we got that sixth sense feeling that we should head back. Someone began following us it seems but we turned around and stared at him for a moment and he disappeared. In another couple of minutes we were among the people hanging out in the Zocalo.
Only later did we see learn from our map that we were heading towards the infamous Tepito area-known for it’s hard ways and not recommended for foreign tourists or even most residents of DF who tend to avoid it as well though its always had a certain appeal because of it’s history of smuggling goods into the country and as source of professional boxers.