Why do we assume all of Mexico is Tijuana?

Story and photos by Emily C. Sims

Note: This is part 2 of a planned 4-part series on La Paz. If you missed part one, click here.

Mexican stereotypes annoy the hell out of me. Whether you are stereotyping the country as a whole or the people from it, you are leading me to believe that you are a douchebag. We’ve all hard it before–if you go anywhere in Mexico, you’re going to die in a gang war. You’re going to be kidnapped. You’ll be forced into drug muling.

Are there parts of Mexico where things like this can happen? Yes. Are there parts of the U.S. where things like this can happen? Yes. When people visit the U.S., they don’t assume the entire country is Detroit; why do we assume that all of Mexico is Tijuana?

I heard many of these fears expressed as I geared up for my recent trip to Mexico. Family members worried for my safety, and based on the only media reports we see of Mexico, I understand that. But just like in the United States, there are many parts of the country that are safe and welcoming, and one such place is La Paz.

The city of peace and abundance on the Sea of Cortes

Sunset over the Sea of Cortes.

I spent three gorgeous days in the city of La Paz in Baja California Sur. La Paz is a quiet, unassuming city situated on the unbelievably beautiful Sea of Cortes. Much of my time was spent on the Costa Baja resort, but I also spent quite a bit of time in town as well. Not once did I second guess myself as I was walking alone, not once did I worry that I was unsafe or vulnerable. Here’s a fact that really caught my attention: If La Paz was a city in California, it would be the third safest city in that state.

Lela Sankeralli, a Canadian marine biologist I met during my stay, described La Paz the best: “As beautiful as the ocean is, as beautiful as the sea life is, so are the people.” I couldn’t agree more. Every person I met in La Paz was friendly, laid back, and easy to talk to.

If, however, you would be more comfortable staying on the resort for the duration of your visit, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained, and you’ll always be safe. At Costa Baja, you will see men in red and white uniforms standing at all of the entrances and exits. (To be honest, I’m not really sure if they were security guards or lifeguards, but they looked pretty official. I mean, they were wearing hats.) Costa Baja has plenty to keep you occupied–a pristine private beach, two pools, a spa, restaurants, and its very own marina.  I definitely recommend chartering a boat with Fun Baja Tours to go to Isla Espiritu Santu, where you can relax on secluded white-sand beaches and swim with playful and friendly sea lions.

Make no mistake: La Paz is not Cabo, it is not Cancun, and most importantly, it is not Tijuana. It is a city unto itself, comparable to none, and an ideal vacation destination for those looking for a quiet getaway. If you want to drown in tequila shots, go to Cancun. If you want to experience the joy of Mexican culture and the peace of the sea, come to La Paz.

Disclaimer: The Tourism Board of La Paz paid for my travel and accommodations. However, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Emily is an ex-teacher, ex-obituary writer, and ex-yuppie. In her free time, she volunteers for Wings of Hope and is a writer and amateur photographer. Emily has lived all over the United States and France. She currently resides in Las Vegas.

 

16 thoughts on “Why do we assume all of Mexico is Tijuana?

  1. I haven’t been to La Paz, but I love Mexico and felt very safe when I was there, even in many parts of Mexico City. I agree, it really depends where you go, it’s a big country.

  2. I feel like Alex was worried the entire time you were there and that he checked your bags for drugs when you came home.

    Also, hats=offical. Whatever those guys, they were official about it.

    • Hahaha… you’re pretty much right :) Alex was terrified at the thought of me in Mexico.

    • It didn’t help that the morning I dropped her off at the airport I went home and read a story about drug cartels hijacking buses in Mexico. But, I’m just a worrier. I knew she would be fine.

  3. MEXICO ES BEAUTIFUL

  4. MELINDA HARTNER says:

    I HAVE BEEN GOING TO MEXICO FOR THE PAST 30+ YEARS….AND YES, I AM A BIT APREHENSIVE ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING…..MY HUSBAND AND I RENTED A FABULOUS CONDO IN THE ROMATIC DISTRICT OF PV…..AND WALKED THE STREETS AT NIGHT, AND DAY…..I HAVE HEARD OF TROUBLES DOWN THERE, BUT AM NOT AFRAID. HOWEVER, MY HUSBAND SAID, HE WOULD RATHER NOT RENT OUR UNIT AT THIS TIME, PERHAPS A CRUISE INTO THE PORT…. I MISS MEXICO…..SOME OF THE BEST TIMES IN MY LIFE WERE SPENT THERE. I HATE TO HAVE A FEAR OF MY SPECIAL PARADISE……HOPEFULLY, THIS WILL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER….MELINDA

  5. I felt the same way when I went to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in January. I never felt unsafe. I wasn’t robbed and I made it home alive. In Ireland, a place you would think is so safe, I was robbed. It is luck of the draw I think when it comes to safety. I completely agree you shouldn’t write off all of Mexico.

  6. I have yet to see Mexico, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go, based on this post and others by bloggers and travelers which I’ve read over the last year. Kudos to the La Paz Tourist Board for trying to get out the word.

    Here in Spain it seems that Mexico’s problems are highlighted every day on the tv in some detail. It’s outrageous that the press can taint one’s view of somewhere like this. It would be foolish to deny the problems, but we should be realistic. Here in Tenerife we have a problem with a certain area which is known for drugs and nightclubs etc and I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who characterize the area as being typical of the island, whereas local people are rarely to be found there!

    • I’m so glad to hear you wouldn’t hesitate to go, Linda! You’re right–the media does really characterize the entire country as awful based on a few problem areas. We *should* be more realistic! I’m so glad you’ve read posts by bloggers and travelers that have helped you to see through the media smokescreen.

  7. You make some great points. Years ago I lived in Puebla and Cholula, and they were amazingly beautiful towns full of the warmest, friendliest people you could hope to meet. The border towns, at least those I’ve been to (Tijuana, Juarez, Nogales) don’t make a favorable impression and I recommend they be skipped.

    • Which I agree with as well–the border towns are the places to avoid, but there are other cities in Mexico that are perfectly safe and lovely to visit!

  8. […] This part 4 of a 4-part series on La Paz. Catch up on part 1 , part 2, and part […]

  9. […] Note: This is part 1 of a planned 4-part series. Next up: Why do we assume all of Mexico is Tijuana? […]

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