jordan woundedSecurity Concerns

(Note: This section was mostly written by Kat's parents and cousins. Jim and Susan Audley spend every January - March in the area building a house for the past several years. Here is their blog about it: http://www.susanandjim.com. Kat's dad used to be a safety kahuna for Amtrak and is also a retired Coast Guard captain, so he knows more about safety than the average bear. And Kat's mom has never once has gotten herself into potentially dangerous pickles for the sake of a good story, unlike her daughter. And Kat's cousins, Khamoor, Tim and three of their kids lived in Barra de Potosi for a year (See? http://www.kpetunia.com/mexipoes/index.htm). In short, these people know what is up down there. Just sayin'.)

Despite the alarming media reports and warnings, we have found Mexico to be safe, particularly in the Zihuatanejo area. Most of the reported crimes in the news are drug-related violence that rarely involve tourists even though these events receive enormous amounts of publicity. Just as in most American cities, there are certain areas to avoid and precautions to take. While in Mexico, and generally when we travel anywhere, we try to maintain a low profile so as not to be a victim. Limiting jewelry, credit cards, and cash that you have on your person is common sense. Likewise, walking with a purpose and being alert to people around you can make you an undesirable target. It is a good idea to walk isolated stretches of beaches with a friend or two. Don’t tempt people with valuables (like cameras) left in visible places. Use ATMs in secure indoor locations (e.g. the airport or banks in Zihuatanejo). Try to stay where there are other people around.

Barra de Potosi on Playa Blanca is south of the city of Zihuatanejo and is a fishing village as well as a popular destination for Mexicans from Mexico City to come for a day of the weekend. The people who live year round in this area are very honest and many depend upon the tourist season to survive. Even a smattering of Spanish phrases are appreciated as the link between the two cultures.

Medical Concerns

It is likely that there will be 2–3 doctors among the guests. Dr. Emilio Serrano is our Mexican doctor and is available 24/7. There are nearby clinics in every village as well as two larger hospitals in Zihautanejo. Another doctor that we have seen, and can recommend in Zihuatanejo is Dr. Rogelio Grayeb – (English and French spoken). Nicolás Bravo 71-B , Centro, Zihuatanejo Tel. (755) 554- 3334, 553-1711. (Tim often has a little mini surgery thing done when we are there as Dr. Grayabs fees are about 1/10th of what it would cost here.)

Be sure to bring an ample supply of any personal medications you make take as well as a listing of the names and dosages of your must-have medications. As a precaution against traveler’s diarrhea, we bring a supply of Ciproflaxin (which can also be purchased OTC in Farmacias). (Kat swears by drinking the juice from one local coconut tree a day to counteract any potentially bumpy stomach issues.) Most restaurants wash their fresh fruits and vegetables with an iodine disinfectant and also serve purified water for ice, teas, lemonades and other drinks. If in doubt, simply ask if it is ‘agua purifico’. My suggestion is to wash hands many times a day and put lime on everything you eat & drink, including the rim of your beer bottle.

Annoyances

Mosquito bites are the main annoyance in the area. (They do not carry malaria or other infectious diseases in this part of Mexico. They just make you itch.) The mosquitos generally descend for the first hour after the sun has set so it is a good idea to be proactive. There are numerous repellents available in Mexican stores, but you may prefer to bring the spray or lotion you like. Citronella products are not very effective. One good antidote to the bites (after the fact) is rubbing a fresh cut lime on the bites.

And yes, there are scorpions in the Southwest and in Mexico. Black and yellow scorpions like dark, damp places; thus shake out wet towels and clothing, check the insides of shoes, and sleeping bags or sheets. If stung, immediately apply ice, stay calm, and drink lots of water. If there is any numbness or red streaks, go immediately to the nearest clinic or emergency room.

Kat's then 7 year old cousin was stung by a scorpion during her time in Mexico and lived to tell the tale without any significant harm having come to her. Here, this is a story of Kiera vs. Scorpion: http://www.imitationfruit.com/issue_5/spanish_lessons/spanish_lessons.html

Money Exchanging Procedures

Many of the enramadas and businesses in Barra de Potosi will accept American dollars, but it is not as much fun as using pesos. Peso are handy in smaller denominations for use in Barra de Potosi. There is no exchange place in Barra. There is an ATM at the airport ( 20 steps to your left after you pass through the glass doors). If you use this ATM get the maximum amount of cash that you desire, or that the machine will allow you, as you are paying a flat rate premium for this service regardless of the amount of cash that you withdraw. In Zihuatanejo, there are many bancos and casa de cambios where one can exchange money. The money exchange places don't give you quite as good of an exchange, but they have longer hours and shorter lines than banks. At most banks you enter the first door, pass through the inner door security, take a number and then wait to be called to a tellers window. Put your money away before you leave the tellers window and request small bills to use for buying trinkets, drinks, etc. You'll need a copy of your passport to exchange money at the banks in Zihuatanejo.

If you have any safety concerns or questions or want recommendations about fun things to do in Barra de Potosi or Zihuatanejo, please don't hesitate to ask Jim at jimaudley @ aol dot com or Khamoor Poehlmann at tkpoe at mcn dot org or Kat at k @ kpetunia dot com.

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