I want to make clear to both readers of this blog (HIIIII!) that we made this trip I've been posting about around the northern half of the Yucatan Peninsula - a rental-car road trip loop that began and ended on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan in Puerto Morelos, Mexico - in 10 days during April, 2011. The distances are short, on good roads, through nice towns*, with no overnight driving.
*"Nice towns." I feel I always have to add this for anyone from the US who might read this. Stop buying the bill of goods your mass media is selling you: behave like a normal adult, and you have every chance of avoiding a beheading if you visit Mexico. As far as reality and our actual experience goes, here are the 6 rules for staying alive in Mexico (or the rest of Latin America, for that matter):
1. Do not sell drugs.
2, Do not try to steal someone else's drugs.
3. Do not try to pick up local women.
4. Do not insult local men - not even in English - the average Mexican is bilingual. You're not.
5. Do not pick fights in bars.
6. Do not wander around bad parts of town after dark.
(Saaayyy, don't you follow those same 6 rules at home?)
If you can somehow manage to follow these 6 rules, you will be happy touring Mexico. Keep your head, and you will keep your head.
I will also point out that the Yucatan has a large Mayan population, who are very proud of the fact that they maintain the lowest crime rate of all Mexico. It could be because of the Mayan cultural history, their strong ethical principles, their family values...or because every pyramid in the region has numerous graphic representations of exactly what the average Maya can do to you if you cross them one little bit.
Great way to keep the kids in line.