To deny that there is violence in Mexico would be foolish. There are many people living here who fear for their lives on a daily basis, who go to sleep hearing the sounds of gunshots and grenades, and who have lost loved ones to the gang/cartel violence. However, this is not the case throughout the country; in the city where I live (Pachuca), violent crimes are extremely rare, occurring at a much lower rate than they do in the region where I have lived my entire life (St. Louis).
This does not mean that I live without fear of crime or violence. I think it is important to always prepare yourself for criminals who may choose to prey on you, wherever home might be. When considering what more I might need to do in Pachuca than I would do at home, I thought about how my lifestyle would be changing. For example, I would be walking more than driving, therefore I needed to consider what type of purse to wear, how to carry it, and the types of crime that specifically target pedestrians.
Some things to keep in mind
- Research the area you plan to live in. Use search engines to locate news stories about the region where you will be living. Ask around on expat blogs to locate others who live where you wish to live. Locate businesses in the area that have Facebook pages and see what you can learn from their posts and the people who follow them.
- Think about what your daily routine might look like; ask yourself what you need to change in terms of precautions to help you feel more secure.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Research articles that discuss ways in which criminals prey on tourists; this will give you a better idea of what should set off your alarm. Even if you intend to stay long-term, if you look like an outsider, it can be assumed you are a tourist.
- Carry a dummy wallet. Keep enough money to satisfy a criminal, but not so much that you will struggle to survive without it. It is important to have some money to give them–they chose you because you look like someone they expect to have money and they will become angry if you have nothing to give.
- If you carry a purse, keep the dummy wallet in there and keep easily replaceable items inside; in the case of a snatch or slash and grab, the thief gets a small amount of money and random items. Keep cellphones and money on your person.
- When traveling by bus, put all valuable items below. Since I have been here, several friends have been robbed on buses. While the thiefs took all items that people had on them or in carry-ons, they did not want to take the extra time to go below and riffle through luggage.
- Give what you have when told to do so. If you try to hide things and they find out that you are, they will become angry and possibly harm you.
Questions for my Readers
What things do you do to feel safe?
Have you had problems reassuring your family back home that you are okay? What do you do to help them feel better?