Nogales to Puerto Vallarta 2010

Recent news of drug wars, carjackings and kidnappings have left some vacationers concerned about travel in Mexico. This report is intended to help those driving to Nayarit and Jalisco for their annual stay.Noticias recientes sobre guerras de drogas, robo de autos y secuestros han dejado a algunos vacacionistas preocupados con respecto a viajar dentro de México. Éste reportaje tiene la intención de ayudar a aquellos que viajan hacia Nayarit y Jalisco por su estadía anual.

Each year thousands of snowbirds make their migration to popular Riviera Nayarit destinations like Bucerias, Punta de Mita, Sayulita, La Peñita and Rincon de Guayabitos. Many of them will drive Mexico highway 15 and 200 from Nogales, just south of Tucson, through Sonora, Sinaloa and Nayarit.Cada año miles de “snowbirds” ( Snowbirds son canadienses de la tercera edad que viajan al sur para el invierno, como las aves migratorias) hacen su migración a los destinos populares de la Riviera Nayarit como Bucerias, Punta Mita, Sayulita, La Peñita y Rincón de Guayabitos. Muchos de ellos conducirán por la carretera 15 y 200 desde Nogales, justo al sur de Tucson, atravesando Sonora, Sinaloa y Nayarit.

The official warnings from the Canadian and US governments are summarized followed by some personal experiences and recommendations from local folks followed by additional resources like government registration sites and hotels to use en route. Help others by sharing your experiences below and Buen Viaje.Las advertencias oficiales provenientes de los gobiernos de Canadá y Estados Unidos fueron resumidas seguido de algunas experiencias personales y recomendaciones de personas de la localidad seguido por fuentes adicionales como sitios de registro gubernamental y hoteles que se pueden utilizar en la ruta. Ayuda a otros compartiendo tus experiencias abajo y Buen Viaje.

Government Warnings:Advertencias de gobierno:

This week Foreign Affairs Canada issued a warning to “Avoid non essential travel” for the Mexico-United States border region saying:Esta semana Asuntos Foráneos Canadá emitió una advertencia para ¨Evitar viajes no esenciales¨ para la región fronteriza México-Estados Unidos diciendo:

OFFICIAL WARNING: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to the border areas between Mexico and the United States, due to continuously high levels of violence linked to drug trafficking in those areas.

Advertencia Oficial: Asuntos Foráneos y Comercio internacional de Canadá aconsejan en contra de viajes no esenciales hacia las áreas fronterizas entre México y Estados Unidos, debido a la alta continuidad de violencia ligada a el tráfico de droga en esas áreas. Canadians should avoid crossing Mexico’s northern border by land, as shootouts, attacks, and illegal roadblocks may occur at any time. … Read it all here.Los Canadienses deberían evitar el cruce de la frontera norte de México por medios terrestres, porque tiroteos, ataques y retenes ilegales pueden ocurrir en cualquier momento. …léelo todo aqui.

It goes on to say in part “…major tourist areas such as the Yucatán Peninsula and Pacific resort areas have not been affected by the extreme levels of violence witnessed in the northern border region ……tourists are not targeted”Continúa diciendo en parte ¨…grandes destinos turísticos como la Península de Yucatán y resorts de algunas áreas del Pacifico no han sido afectadas por el extremo nivel de violencia atestiguado en la región norte de la frontera…..los turistas no son el blanco¨

The US Embassy in Mexico update of August 31, 2010 for Sinaloa says:La embajada de Estados Unidos en México avance del 31 de Agosto, 2010 para Sinaloa dice:

Car-jackings along the Mexican toll (cuota) road in Sinaloa continue to be a problem.  However, the frequency of the attacks has decreased following institution of around the clock highway patrols of law enforcement officials.
Robo/asalto de autos sobre los peajes de México en Sinaloa continúan siendo un problema. Sin embargo, la frecuencia de los ataques ha disminuido debido al establecimiento de turnos completos de patrullas sobre la carretera y oficiales de policía.

Local experiences and advice:Consejos y experiencia local:

A number of folks have recently reported on various forums about heir trip confirming the visible presence of police and armed forces personnel.Un número de personas han reportado recientemente en varios foros sobre su viaje confirmando la presencia visible de policía y personal de la armada.

Eddie and Roberto, owners of Xaltemba Restaurant and Galleria in La Peñita drove the route last Saturday and Sunday.  Eddie commented:Eddie y Roberto, dueños de Xaltemba Restaurant & Galería en La Peñita condujeron por la ruta el pasado Sábado y Domingo. Eddie comento:

“Roberto and I drove from Nogales to La Peñita leaving Tucson Saturday at 6:00 AM arriving  Culiacan at 7:00 PM. We slept in Culiacan, left at 6:00 AM and got to La Peñita at 3:00 PM. The road was well guarded with federal police, and the marines all along the highway. Traffic was low, we were told that we should be careful in the area of Guasave, and Los Mochis. We usually stay in Los Mochis but we took the advice and drove the two extra hours to Culiacan. Heeding advice from various forum postings, we made sure we drove only during daylight.” ¨Roberto y yo conducimos desde Nogales a La Peñita dejando Tucson el sábado a las 6:00am arribando a Culiacán a las 7:00pm. Dormimos en Culiacán, partimos a las 6:00am y llegamos a La Peñita a las 3:00pm. El camino estaba bien vigilado con policía federal, y los infantes de marina estuvieron sobre la carreta. El tráfico fue poco, se nos dijo que deberíamos tener cuidado en el área de Guasave y Los Mochis. Normalmente nos quedamos en Los Mochis pero tomamos el consejo y manejamos las dos horas extras hacia Culiacán. Prestando atención a los consejos de varios foros, nos aseguramos de solo manejar durante el día.¨

Photo thanks to ontheroadin.com

Bill and Dot Bell, La Peñita residents and acknowledged experts on road travel in Mexico, travelled extensively this past summer throughout Mexico.  They offer this advice:Bill y Dot Bell, residentes de La Peñita y expertos reconocidos en el desplazo en carreteras de México, el verano pasado viajaron intensamente dentro de México. Ellos ofrecen estos consejos:

Having completed this experience our base, 20 year old advice still stands:
1)      Drive early and stop early
2)      Never drive at night
3)      Get far away from the borders as soon as you can
4)      Don’t boon dock
5)      Travel with others if possible
Habiendo completado esta experiencia tenemos la base, consejos de 20años de antigüedad aún permanecen:
1)Maneje temprano y deténgase temprano
2)Nunca maneja en la noche
3)Aléjese de las fronteras lo más pronto posible
4)No se quede lejos de la ciudad
5)Viaje junto con otros si es posible

and further commentY comentaron además

WE WOULD NOT LET THE CURRENT DRUG WAR VIOLENCE DETER US FROM TRAVEL AT THIS TIME. Nosotros no dejariamos que las actuales guerras violentas de droga nos desalienten de nuestro viaje en este momento.

You can buy the Bells’ road log for this trip at OnTheRoadIn.com.

Update: A later report from the Bells appeared on the JaltembaSol.com September 27th, 2010.  It is an excellent detailed discussion including 11 points of advice like 1)  Travel if you feel comfortable,….3) Don’t have anything to do with drugs…… 11) Have a plan in case there was an “unauthorized roadblock” and then goes on to give their plan.Actualización: Mas tarde un reportaje de los Bells apareció en jaltembaSol.com 27 de Septiembre, 2010. Es un excelente discusión incluyendo detalles como el consejo de 11 puntos como 1) Viaje si se siente cómodo,…3) No se involucre de ninguna manera con las drogas….11) Tenga un plan en caso de que haya un ¨reten sin autorización¨ y después continua dando su plan.

Some drivers are getting together to travel in groups. One such Caravan is being organized by the La Peñita RV Park. If you have information about how and where people are organizing other convoys please leave a comment below.Algunos viajeros se juntan para viajar en grupos. Una caravana está siendo organizada por el RV Park de La Peñita. Si tienes información sobre cómo y donde la gente se organiza para otras caravanas por favor deje su comentario abajo.

Carole Thacker of La Peñita RV Park responded to our enquiries with the following:Carole Thacker del RV Park de La Peñita respondió a nuestra petición con los siguiente:

In 19 years of Mexico travel we have never had a problem or felt threatened but from the first time we crossed we were told how dangerous it was. We have broken down and had nothing but excellent help from complete strangers. En 19 años de viajes a México nunca hemos tenido problemas o sentido amenazados pero desde la primera vez que cruzamos se nos dijo lo peligroso que era. Nos hemos quedado varados y solo hemos recibido excelente ayuda de personas totalmente desconocidas.

We have always advised out customers to exercise caution driving in Mexico and anywhere else. We say it is not advised to travel alone. Don’t stop on the side of the road unless it is an emergency. Do not drive at night. Do not leave you vehicle unattended at Pemex stations, etc. Make sure all your paperwork is with you. We wear our passports, credit card, insurance, drivers license and phone numbers. We recommend stopping at RV Parks along the way or security guarded Pemex’s. Don’t flash money or expensive things around. Be aware of your surroundings. Get a pay as you go cell phone and program in emergency numbers. Carry a card from our park with the phone numbers of the park.Siempre hemos avisado a clientes externos a ser precavidos mientras manejan en México y cualquier otra parte. Decimos que no es prudente viajar solo. No se detengan aun lado de la carretera al menos que sea una emergencia. No maneje de noche. No deje su automóvil solo en las estaciones de Pemex, etc. Asegúrese que todos sus papeles estén con usted. Nosotros nos vestimos con nuestros pasaportes, tarjeta de crédito, seguro, permiso para manejar y números de teléfono. Recomendamos paradas en RV Parks sobre el camino o un Pemex que este resguardado. No presuma dinero u objetos costosos. Se consiente de lo que te rodee. Obtenga un plan de celular y programe números de emergencia. Cargue una tarjeta de nuestro parquet con los números del mismo.

Put an “In case of emergency” sign in the front of your rig and have your emergency information, medical and insurance numbers and next of kin numbers. Stay away from bars, drugs and large crowds. Ponga un letrero de ¨en caso de emergencia¨ delante de su automóvil y tenga su información de emergencia, médica, y números de seguro y números de familiares. Aléjese de bares, drogas y conglomeraciones.

We take a Caravan to La Penita RV Park to arrive in the park November 1. We cross at Nogales. The requirement for this caravan is to spend the month of November in the park. The trip home is not guided but many people get together and go out in groups.

On our website www.lapenitarvpark.com under News and the Serape Sept 9 there are names of people and dates when they are crossing the border and looking for travel companions.


I spoke to Anna from the Punta Vista RV Park in Santa Ana. This is a favorite stop for us as Edgar and Ana have been very helpful over the 19 years we have travelled down. Ana says she still feel safer travelling in Mexico than in the US. She says there have been no more problems than normal as of late and tourists are not targeted.


I have spoken to a UPS supervisor in Mexico who travels all over and he has not personally seen or heard of any problems. He says Green Angels would be willing to travel along with groups in some areas.
Nosotros llevamos caravanas al RV Park de La Peñita para arribar al parque el 1 de Noviembre. Cruzamos en Nogales. El requerimiento para esta caravan es pasar el mes de Noviembre en el parquet. El viaje a casa no es guiada pero muchos se juntan y se regresan juntos en grupos.
En nuestro sitio web www.lapeñitarvpark.com bajo News and the Serape Sept 9 hay nombres de personas y fechas cuando ellos cruzaran la frontera y buscan compañeros de viaje.
Hable con Anna del Punto Vista RV Park en Santa Ana. Este es nuestro lugar favorito para detenernos ya que Edgar y Ana han sido muy serviciales estos 19 años que hemos viajado. Ana dice dice que aún se siente más segura viajando en México que en Estados Unidos. Ella dice que no ha habido más problemas que lo normal hasta ahora pero que los turistas no son los blancos.
He hablado con el supervisor de UPS en México quien viaja por todos lados y el personalmente no ha visto ni escuchado de ningunos problemas. Él dice que los Ángeles Verdes estarían dispuestos a viajar junto con grupos en algunas áreas.

Additional resources:Recursos adicionales:

If you are not familiar with crossing the border, vehicle permits, insurance, etc you may find some useful information here: Driving in Mexico.

You may also want to carry this number for the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes) who offer assistance to drivers: (311) 218-1624.Quizá querrá cargar este número para los Ángeles Verdes que ofrecen asistencia a conductores: (311) 218-1624.

There are some recommendation of where to stay en route from the good folks on the Bucerias Yahoo Group.  Some recent trip reports and forum discussions are also linked to on that page.

If you want to hook up with folks to travel together you may be able to find a convoy or a travelling companion here.

The Canadian government says:El gobierno Canadiense dice:

OFFICIAL REGISTRATION RECOMMENDATION: We offer a registration service for all Canadians travelling or living abroad.RECOMENDACION OFICIAL DE REGISTRO: Ofrecemos un servicio de registro para todos los Canadienses viajando o viviendo en el extranjero.

The US government also recommends that you register saying:El gobierno Estadounidense también recomienda que se registre diciendo:

The State Department recently launched a secure online travel registration website which will allow you, as an American citizen, to record foreign trip and residence information that the Department of State can use to communicate with you and assist you in case of an emergency. U.S. citizens around the world who travel or reside abroad can access this site directly at American Citizens Services Registration El departamento de estado lanzo recientemente un sitio web seguro, de registro de viaje que te permitirá, como un ciudadano Americano, para registrar tu viaje al extranjero y informacion de residencia que pueda usar el departamento de estado para comunicarse con usted y asistirle en caso de emergencia, ciudadanos americanos alrededor del mundo que viajan o residen en el extranjero pueden tener acceso a este sitio directamente en el Servicio de Registo a Ciudadanos.

Words of the day:Palabra de día:

la carretera — the dictionary says major highway but locally it also refers to highway 200 which is only two lanes.La carretera— Highway

el camino – route, road , track from the verb caminar — to walkel camino—route, road

Snowbirds – extranjeros que vienen cada año como las aves migratorias.

anillo periferico – ring road, literally peripheral ring.  Locally just periferico will do.

5 Comments

user image Tom

That is the incident. As an addition to that, this last wedensday a truck was stolen here in San Blas at the beach. The carjackers were discribed as jovenes and were driving the truck that was stolen from the Dr. here in town on the 14th of this month. The owner of the truck was beaten when he tried to resist. This was reported yesterday in “La Critica” but I haven’t found it yet on nayaritenlinea. Someone was able to take some photos at the time.

user image Johan

Thanks Tom. That makes it easier.

There was an illegal road block on September 14th reported by NayaritEnLinea.mx on the 15th. The article is entitled: Aumenta el robo de autos con violencia en Nayarit” — Auto thefts with Violence Increase in Nayarit. It appears that “with violence” part means “armed robbery” since the men were armed but no bodily harm was reported to the victims. Personal effects computers, cash and vehicles were stolen. The report reads like a police blotter. The part dealing with the carjackings is the last 4 paragraphs.

I still struggle with getting the exact meaning from these articles but it appears two police reports were filed about the same incident which occurred on the route which they describe as “Tepic-Crucero de San Blas” five kilometres after leaving the toll booth at Trapichillo at about 20:00 hours. The other report by a person heading in the other direction hence 5 kilometres before the toll booth. That would place it very close to but not actually on the toll road.

The comments on the article are probably the source of the report that suggests collusion between the hijackers and the people at the toll booths. There are a couple of comments to that effect.

It seems like the advice to not travel after dark is excellent but maybe we should increase it to “Do not travel after 6pm”. I do recall one day light incident reported near Mazatlan late last winter. The other advice I would offer is that if you should find yourself in this type of situation, “Do not resist!”. The only injuries I have heard reported resulted from lack of cooperation by the victims.

user image TOM

The incident on the autopista occured about the 13th or 14 of this month. The other on the free road was about a week before that

user image Johan

I cannot find any confirmation on line of either incident you mention Tom which is strange because it is exactly the kind of story that Nayarit En Linea likes to report. Do you have dates?

user image TOM NELSON

False roadblocks and car jacking are occuring in Nayarit as well. One you reported on ealier between Compostela and Las Varas. I know of 2 receint ones confirmed. The first occured about a week ago in the day on the free road between San Blas and Tepic near the new prison. A friend of my wifes brother in law lost his new pick up. The second occured a few days later on the toll road about 15 kilometers south of Tepic about 8 p m. We had friends stopped, handcuffed and then released because their car was older and not worth taking. A local Dr. here in San Blas lost his new pick up. I haven’t been able to find any reports in the Tepic news reporting either of these.

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