Question: Should student Sarah Tjoa go to Cancun, Mexico, for spring break? She posed that question in a letter to the Travel section, and in the March 15 "On the Spot," we asked readers to weigh in. Here is some of what they had to say. To see more, go to latimes.com/mexicoresponses.
We just returned from a wonderful vacation on the Riviera Nayarit, one of many trips we've taken to Mexico in the last 30-plus years. We felt very safe everywhere we went. You can be a victim of crime at home or anywhere in the world. What is most important is to be knowledgeable about where you are and to exercise good common sense.
As a travel agent and lover of Mexico vacations, I think the reader is being overly cautious. I have traveled to Mexico five times since September 2006 and except for one time in Cabo where someone tried to sell me drugs, I have never felt unsafe, even by myself. (I'm in my mid-20s). Follow the basic rules: Don't leave drinks unattended, watch your alcohol intake (and don't do drugs), don't walk alone at night, use reputable tour companies when traveling outside the city, etc. and you should be fine.
Recent conflicts have been in Mexican border towns hundreds of miles from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Unfortunately, most Americans are ignorant of the geography of Mexico. They do not know that Mexico is three times the size of Texas. If we had unrest in Los Angeles (riots, gang wars, earthquakes) would you cancel your vacation or meeting/convention in Chicago? I do not think so.
In the end, it comes down to common sense.
Larry J. Pagac
Barcelo Hotels & Resorts
My husband and I went to Ensenada for three nights during winter break. We caught a bus down south. Tijuana felt deserted and desperate, but the bus ride was surprisingly pleasant (motor coach with movie and bathroom) and Ensenada did not feel unsafe. The tourist strip was clean and inviting at all hours, and during the day we even wandered within a mile radius or so to visit the stores and loncherias where locals eat, and we never once felt in harm's way. (And the food was far more satisfying than at the tourist restaurants.)
There was a shooting death in Tijuana while we were in Ensenada, but we never felt that such a thing was imminent. I would encourage people to open their hearts and minds to travel in the non-border towns of Mexico once again.
You can never take caution too far when traveling. It's not as though all these young, inexperienced travelers would stick out, carry money or leave their best judgment at home. . . .
Is it going to take 10,000 or 20,000 lives before we adopt a pro-active mind-set on the drug wars?