It was hard not to worry about cartel violence before we entered Mexico. In the past we've backpacked across the Yucatan and thru out Central Mexico. We've even did a 3-day river trip on a remote stretch of the Rio Grande, often stepping foot in the state of Chihuahua. We knew how safe Mexico can be, but somehow we let all of the negative media attention and the hype get to us. After crossing the border, it admittedly took us a little time to completely relax, but once we did, we realized how much we had been programmed to fear travel outside of the "good ol' US of A". During the 3 months that it took us to completely drive across Mexico, we had an amazing time, saw nothing that was scary, and we felt completely safe.
So why are we constantly being told how dangerous Mexico is?
The situation in Latin America is highly sensationalized, but it's impossible to deny the facts. Between 2006 and 2012, roughly 40,000 people have died in Mexico alone. These numbers aren't stacked with tourists or foreigners, and as a matter of fact, we could not find one single case that looked like a traveler was a victim. I wasted a lot of time researching the statistics and analyzing the violence... where we should avoid and what kind of situations to avoid. The sad truth is, border violence sells newspapers and gets tv ratings, so we are constantly being fed the sad stories. If Fox News were to say that the world was a warm and friendly place and everything is okay, you would probably change the channel to watch Border Wars or Toddlers and Tiaras.
I can be killed in parts of Philadelphia just as easily as I can be killed in parts of Juarez. Most of our travels are thru quiet pueblos, colonial cities, and remote countryside. As a matter of fact, there is even the argument that Americans are actually safer in the Mexico than at home. Shortly before we left, I read an article about the cartel presence in Austin. I guess it's a good thing we left town, right?