Safety and Travel Information
Advisory update - The travel advisory has been lifted for several regions of Mexico, click here for more details.The United State’s travel advisory for travelers to Mexico has been the subject of concern for many individuals. This concern has grown, for some, into an essential ban on the entire country. There is no question that some parts of the Mexico are in turmoil. However, investigation of the advisory shows a more complete story. The advisory states that:
“Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations.“
-United States Department of State (April 2011)
In fact, the majority of border violence described and the news reports you may have seen are centered in three locations: Monterrey, Juarez, and Tijuana. The following is a breakdown of equivalent driving distances of those cities in relation to our facility in Bahia de Los Angeles. Also provided is an approximate US equivalent in relation to a popular US tourist destination, Orlando, Florida.
1660 miles from Monterrey --> Minneapolis, MN to Orlando
960 miles from Juarez --> St. Louis, MO to Orlando
400 miles from Tijuana --> Atlanta, GA to Orlando
Would you consider not bringing your children to Disneyworld because you would have to drive through Atlanta? Would you avoid the Magic Kingdom because of violence or rioting in St. Louis or Minneapolis? Would you cancel a once in a lifetime opportunity to study in Rome because of unrest in Berlin? Of course not! However, worries about civil unrest in the country of Mexico has caused administrators to cancel educational experiences to Baja California.
While the physical distance between Bahia de Los Angeles and the centers of unrest are staggering, the actual difference is much greater. The Vermilion Sea Field Station is located in a small fishing village as opposed to a large metropolis. Rancho San Gregorio is a different world in comparison to Tijuana. The cities of primary discussion in the travel advisory all have populations in the millions while our local community has under a thousand residents. In our small community there are strong bonds and a real small town feel. Our involvement in the village for over forty years has created unbreakable bonds within the local community. The area relies on tourism for much of the local income and strives to maintain good relations with all visitors.
Of course the safety of our visitors is our primary concern, but, as with any endeavor, there is some risk involved. Our efforts in conjunction with the Mexican Department of Tourism to reduce the associated travel risks has had fabulous results. We have hundreds of people who use the facility annually without incident. Additionally, the Secretary of Tourism has instituted the “Green Angels” program. The program provides groups with a caravan escort from the border to their destination. While we have only used the program once, and have not felt it necessary, they remain a valuable resource. This additional level of security may be exactly what your administration requires.
Travel through Tijuana is the most direct route, but there is an alternative route through Tecate if your group is more comfortable with that option. The trip through Tijuana, when properly planned, is less than 20 minutes on a well maintained freeway during the middle of the day. The city of Tijuana, with an approximated 2.3 million residents is so large that it would rank in the top five of US cities in population. The toll freeway taken is designed to avoid the metropolis and allow for expeditious travel around, not through, the city. Imagine being able to drive through a city as large as Houston in 30 minutes.
There are many things to consider when planning your next expedition, but we hope that this helps put travel to our facility in Baja California into a factual perspective.
To assist you, we can coordinate travel to either of our locations or provide a suggested travel itinerary from San Diego. From a straight drive through to a two day journey with amazing stops along the way, our itinerary will be designed to best accommodate your needs. All itineraries will be carefully planned in accordance with the all of the “Safety Suggestions” in the State Departments Travel Advisory.
We here at El Canto de la Tierra would love to receive feedback, additional insights, and will be happy to answer any questions that you or your administration may have.