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Hola. Some of you have expressed a desire to come to Mexico. I wrote the following in order to help with your visit.

1. Always ride in front of the traffic. The view is better. And it is much safer. The reasons are numerous. If the car in front of you has brake lights, enjoy them it is a rarity. Cars, trucks stop unexpectedly in front you. Picking up passengers, freight, talking to friend, asking directions, etc. If you find yourself coming up on a line of vehicles following behind a slow vehicle, twist your throttle and get to the front. One of the beautiful things about this bike is you don’t have to spend much time in the passing lane! Also (on the highway), slow moving vehicles in front of you will give you a left turn signal. This means okay to pass. A left turn signal in town could mean anything, or nothing. Be careful.
2. Check your rear view constantly. I like to ride in front (see #1). But sometimes, I get distracted with the beauty and may slow down. Cars may pass you within inches of your bike. There is no respect for your lane. The first time this happened to me, I about filled my diaper. Mexicans have an uncanny perception of the space of their vehicle. Down to the millimeter. It is incredible.
3. Topes. These are the speed bumps in México. With insufficient police to patrol, they rely on these devices to slow traffic. If there is a sign for the tope, it is at the tope. No forewarning. Keep a lookout for the topes.
4. Checkpoints. There are many. Inhabited with federal police carrying automatic weapons. They are mostly looking for drugs and weapons (don't bring any). But there are times when they are looking for supplemental income. Their risky jobs don’t provide a living wage. They may say you need a sticker, or broke a law. Pay the money. It is always the better choice. I have never heard of them asking for more than 500 pesos. And I am sorry if that is a lot of money to you. But I can assure you that the alternative to paying the 500 pesos will be considerably more. Your job is to smile. Mexicans are very proud of their country. Anything you can do that will convey México is beautiful will help you. They enjoy hearing it. Please note that I have heard of them seeking supplemental income from locals, too. Of course, you are easier prey, and may have better cash flow. A friend of mine who travels to México often (via motorcycle) says he has never had a problem at checkpoints. Hopefully it will be the same for you.
5. Don’t give a rich appearance. Leave your gold chains, rings and Rolex in your home country. Keep your stash of pesos in another pocket. Keep separate the money you will use for today. In other words, don’t wave a lot of money. I have never had a bad encounter in México. The people are very friendly, and enjoy a laugh. They could have the worst job imaginable, but always find an opportunity to laugh. But, I have been told there are bad people in México. And a billboard that says you are rich may attract them.
6. Avoid drunks. This never has a happy ending. If you see one (a drunk), give plenty of room and exit the situation. Unless you like fights, this is always a good rule in any country.
7. Smile. Be the first to smile. They people of México won’t smile first. But, they cannot refrain from smiling after seeing your smile. This will open up many doors to you.
8. Begin every conversation with a greeting…Buenos dias, buenas tardes, buenas noches. After that you can get on with your transaction…beer, gas, food, etc. Always conclude with gracias.
9. Propinas (Tips). In some cases this is the only income they will receive. For example, the person who bags your groceries, is not an employee of the store. Their only income is from tips. 3-5 pesos is sufficient for the bag person. If service is good at a restaurant give 15%. If it is excellent and you plan on eating another meal there give 20%. On your next visit, you will lack nothing in food or service.
10. They will laugh at you. You are a novelty. Unless it is #6 above, they are not being mean, just looking for an opportunity to laugh.
11. Never ride a motorcycle after drinking. This is common sense in any country. But especially so in a foreign country. There is so much more information to process. You don’t need to be impaired.
12. Money. ATMs are plentiful, and are bilingual. There is a $1.50 US charge for each transaction. Some cards charge a one percent fee in addition. You will receive pesos.
13. Gasoline. All the gas stations are Pemex and state owned. They are numerous, but be aware of where the next one will be and fill up accordingly. Buy the good stuff. There are two grades. Always observe the pump being reset to zero, before they begin filling your tank. Tips are welcome here. Five pesos will get you lots of extra service for air, etc.
14. They think your bike is very cool! Most motorcycles here are in the 100-150cc range. When in towns, wave to kids. They love it!
15. Avoid riding at night, or early morning before it is light. There are too many unknowns.
16. Time has a different meaning here. Nothing happens fast. If you are in a hurry…slow down. You are in a foreign country. Accept their ways, and go with the flow. You will enjoy it more.
17. It is probably not a good idea to spend time in a border town. News reports I have seen indicate there could be violence there. Enter the country and keep going south, away from the border.

This is not meant to be a complete guide. It is based on my observations after living four years in México. The intent is that you will enjoy your visit here. It is an incredible country!
 

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Hola,thanks for the tips! My wife and I are going down for a week on the 23rd (sadly,traveling by plane) We'll be staying in Riviera Maya near Playa.
 

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I love Mexico!

May retire in mexico ... love the people, the food, the culture.

DO AVOID BORDER TOWNS. That is the most important item in the list provided by harmonicamoon (for which, thanks!).

The second most important is: BE RESPECTFUL. The respect will almost always returned (as long as you are not in a border town - which has its own peculiar rules). :yikes:
 

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Thanks for posting that! Mexico is really on my to do list! How much Spanish do you need to know to get by? Is there much English spoken away from the bigger cities? I assume there isn't.
 
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I'll trade my Condo in Columbus Ohio for 500 Acres of the Baja Peninsula ...I'm just sayin...

BTD.
 

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I just got back from Mexico last night and I must say Harmonica is dead on with his driving tips.I would not ride my motorcycle there no matter how much gear you gave me and 95% of the bike/scooter riders there are in half helmet,t-shirt,shorts and sandals.It's a free for all on the road.Lanes,lights and turn signals don't seem to mean anything.Beautiful country though.
 

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Thanks:thumbup:
Looking at doing Copper Canyon over Christmas time
Mike
 

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I spent nearly a month riding through Mexico just last year. Despite all the hype about drug wars and killings and swine flue etc I never saw anything bad happen, well, except for a bit of fun and games in Batopilas with some guns ;)

Once you learn to accept number 1 rule as outlined, there is no issue. On a big bike like ours, the front is the place to be. Just remember when you are filtering through the traffic in cities, if you have panniers, be very aware how wide they are :oops:

The people were great, learn a bit of Spanish, at least about 20 basic phrases so you can buy some food, water, fuel, beer and get a place to stay etc. The old adage about trying to speak the local language helps in many ways, is very true down here.

I loved the place and would like to go back one day, maybe even ride back down Copper Canyon again and back out this time :)

Cheers
TS
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How much Spanish do you need to know to get by?
I really don't know, as i speak spanish. but the people are friendly enuf, that i am sure you can communicate in some fashion. but knowing some spanish will open many doors for you. i suggest www.dictionary.com. you can sign up for the spanish world of the day. it is free and they have lots of grammar tips also.

bienvenido,

pako
 

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¡Nice thread! I'd love to ride south of the border sometime -- not sure when, as I have no time & very little money. :thumbdown: But definitely one of these years.
 

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I went around Mexico in 2007 and had a marvelous time. No issues at any of the checkpoints. I was respectful and friendly in my dealings with locals. They reciprocated. Paid my deposit and got my sticker at the border.

I was warned by a well-traveled cager at a border cambio to stick with the higher (red) grade of Pemex gas, but after a few tankfuls of lower (green) grade with no trouble at all in the '03 DL1000, I didn't worry about it anymore. I had to get gas from a GI can in the back of a pickup in the middle of Baja where the distance between Pemex stations was a little more than my range.

Ferried from La Paz to Mazatlan. The trip was made more interesting by my thorough lack of Spanish language skills. I took French in school, so the Latin-based similarity helped a bit on some road signs but at spoken speed, I was screwed. Entertaining.

It is a good idea if you're traveling long days by the seat of your pants, as I did, to preview the geography the day before, which I didn't. The highway signs give highway numbers and city names but not compass directions. If you happen to be at an intersection where the road branches, you need to know whether the towns displayed are in the direction you hope to travel. I'm spoiled by the road signs in USA and Canada where they display the number of the roadway as well as its direction. You can't appreciate this as much as when you're in unknown country on the right road but without a clue as to which way you're going on it. This bit me when I arrived at the Gulf coast and headed toward Yucatan instead of Vera Cruz. I wasn't sure I'd screwed up until a sign advised me how much farther it was to Cancun.

Bottled water is available everywhere. The only place in the whole trip where I experienced "Montezuma's revenge" was in Texas. Lit the fuse with a breakfast burrito in Sanderson; detonation delayed until Odessa. Sorry, too much information, I know.

I traveled in the last half of April and saw no rain at all. I have no idea if that is typical. It is a beautiful country and I'd go back without hesitation.
 

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Very good tips. I was there in '07, in the Copper Canyon area. Wonderful country, wonderful people. Friendly, helpful, just a joy.
I had no issues at checkpoints. Only piece of that advice I would disagree with was "wave at children". No point in restricting it to kids. :) In the smaller towns and out in the countryside a wave at anyone would bring a big smile and a return wave.

http://www.dm.net/~bahwolf/mex2007/mex2007.htm
 

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taking care

just follow certian common rules you might do on chicago, LA, nyc... etc

dont hangle around at night on big non touristic cities ... and try to ride only during the day
 

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I have been to Mexico a lot and never had any real issues. It is a real good idea not to ride at night. The roads in many areas do not have shoulders and animals are often free range. Given a choice between riding a new BMW GS or an older bike like a KLR made in the early 90's go for the older bike, the Police size you up on ability to pay a bribe. I found beer and tequila works well instead of cash and is cheap. My favorite area is the east side of Baja, not as many people and more laid back.
 

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Advice on Baja?

I've been inspired to travel to Baja! Is there a good book on moto-travel in Baja, or Mexico in general? Websites? I probably won't make it this coming year, but maybe in 2012. Anybody here been to Baja on a bike? Stories, advice, do's and don'ts? Thanks!
 

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Paco,
Que tal? A mi me gusta Mexico, especialamente El Yucatan.

Mi espouse va a estar in Merida in marzo, pero sin El moto. Entonces vamos a Cozumel (Ojala), para bucear.

Disculpame mi espanol, soy Gringa

Con mucho Gusto

StromChica

Paco,
What’s up? I really like Mexico, especially the Yucatan

My husband is going to be in Merida in Mar. After, we are (hopefully) going to Cozumel

Pardon my Spanish, I’m a Gringa

With pleasure

StromGirl
(At least that's what I meant to say :green_lol:)
 

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StromGirl ,very good. I get a kick out of people going down to Mexico and parts further south that use HS or College using Castilian Spanish, which is very formal and nobody speaks that way. Slang in English or Spanish is pretty much the same and OK is pretty universal. Look on Craigslist for someone to teach you conversation Spanish or most of the simple phrases you will need. A 100 words can get you by, and if you learn just 2 new ones a day you are on your way.

My basic tips would be to be friendly and polite, it goes a long way. Ask where to go , eat sleep or whatever. I mostly go to Santa Rosalia down to Mulege in Baja and have since the early 1970's. The area has built up a lot, but I like that side of Baja the best. The people are nice and the water is warm. What more could I ask? If you go to Baja this book is good. A bit dated but still useful. The book is Baja Adventure Book. There maybe better ones but it is the only one I used.
 
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