Drive for Our Lives and Trust Nobody

If you are my mom, pretend this post doesn’t exist.  Close your browser.  Go to bed.

For everyone else, read on for a discussion on Mexican safety.  Or my safety.

The guy behind me in line at Mexican customs, a native Mexican who now lives in Texas, asked me, “No tienes miedo?” Aren’t you scared?  That prompted a line of questions from me to him to see what he was getting at.  I only go outside between the hours of 8am and 4pm.  I don’t tell anyone when I’m going to Mexico.  I’m worried they’ll kidnap my kids.  My family is only along with me this time because my grandpa died in Mexico.  They’ll force you to sell everything you have, even make you sell your house in the US, take the ransom from you, and then kill your family anyway.  They steal money from poor workers who only make 1,000 pesos [$60 USD] per week. 

This got me thinking.  My mom has been telling me the same stuff for months now, but this was a Mexican guy warning me.  I had to think for awhile before I could come up with a rational way to draw a conclusion on whether or not I’m putting my family in grave danger by driving them into Mexico.  I’m not an expert on Mexico.  I’m just getting started, so how can I confidently say one way or another?  I determined I must rely on facts, not sensationalism.  I asked him if his parents or four sisters, who have lived in Mexico their entire lives, have ever had anything happen to them.  One time my sister got her purse stolen, he said.

I mentioned to my new compadre the family behind (our original inspiration to buy a 1968 motor coach), who have traveled around Mexico extensively, for years, with their children.  To my knowledge they’ve had zero major incidents.  They’re lucky, he said.

Here’s another guy who’s traveled around Mexico for decades and his opinion on Mexican safety:

It’s largely an argument of statistical comparisons.  Mexico has a murder rate of 21.5 per 100,000 people.  Puerto Rico, where I lived for two years, has a rate of 26.5 per 100,000.  The United States has a murder rate of 4.7 per 100,000.  Spain has a murder rate of 0.8 per 100,000.  (Source)  My chance of getting murdered when going from the US to Mexico increases by a factor of 4.57.  The probability increased by 5.63 times when I moved to Puerto Rico in 2004 (I had zero incidents while living in San Juan).  After I’ve visited Spain and I return to the US, my chances increase by 5.875 times that I’m going to get murdered.  Think about that: my risk factor of being murdered increases more when traveling from Spain to the United States than when traveling from the US to Mexico.  Japanese citizens must really fill their pants when they visit the US; their chances of getting murdered increase by over 15 times!  Meanwhile in 1979, the year my mom carried my older sister on her lap in the car on the way home from the hospital, there was a 22.702 in 100,000 chance they’d be killed in a car accident.

My conclusion: Bad stuff happens everywhere in the world.  If you were truly worried, and if statistics really meant that much, you’d move to Singapore and never leave.  For good measure you’d also wear a helmet while driving your armored Mercedes there.  We all take calculated risks based on our personal values.  One of our main values as a family is to recognize the importance of seeing and understanding other cultures of the world.  The benefits we perceive from doing this far exceed any additional risk we assume in the process.  If you have different values, that’s fine.  People being different is what makes our world incredibly fun to see.  Just do yourself a favor and make sure you’re basing your decisions on rational facts, not on hearsay.

Finally, a sarcastic take on the topic by a seasoned world traveler:

OK, Mom, you should actually go to bed now.


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