Nine U.S. citizens gunned down in a bloodbath in Northern Mexico…

… just two days after we arrived home from a week’s vacation in Puerto Vallarta! It was probably a mistaken hit by a drug cartel, yet it sent waves of fear rippling through the minds of anyone contemplating a trip to Mexico. The victims drove big SUVs in the desert, wrong time and wrong place. Still, even before this happened, I worried about our first trip as a couple to Mexico in twenty-five years.

We’re home. Having weathered the vacation without mishap and savoring my memories, I can assure you other people’s opinions of Mexico as dangerous and off limits are totally incongruent with my own. It wasn’t dangerous. It wasn’t harrowing (well, not very). The Mexican people were polite, warm and so hospitable. Delicious restaurant meals cost a fraction of those in the U.S. Swimming every day in the Bay of Banderas, floating up and down in waves of warm salt water, walking the white sand beach, riding the bus into El Centro and walking along the Cuale River . . . we couldn’t have asked for more.

The scariest thing we encountered right off the plane was three hours in long winding lines of American and Canadian tourists at the Puerto Vallarta Airport waiting to pass through customs. Only two agents for hundreds of passengers in an airport so hot a few people fainted. No bottled water for sale either. That was the worst it got, that and the gauntlet of banditos at the doors of the airport trying to sell you bogus excursions for cash.

I worried we’d come home with the runs but we didn’t. When cooking, you need to wash all fruits and vegetables in bottled water. When eating out, only drink bottled beverages and eat well cooked foods, unless you’re in the hotel zone in Nuevo Vallarta where the restaurants cater to tourists. I loved Mexico! Because it was something new, a little frightening at times since we took local buses and I only speak beginning Spanish, but also magical, exotic, and most of all, foreign.

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