Q & A About Oaxaca Safety 2010

Q: I am a college student in Sarasota, Florida, We’ve got a trip planned out for Oaxaca in March, during spring break. I had half a mind to go, but everyone keeps telling me how dangerous it is.
Fortunately, I happened to have stumbled upon your blog, the one beacon of positive light.

I do wish to ask, what the risk is at this time. We’ll be travelling in a group pf 14 or so, doing the regular tourist routes it seems.

In anycase, I am of Guatemalan decent and speak Spanish well, so I’m not concerned with communication very much.

The blog is very useful as is.  I found the recommended materials list for winter months, though I don’t think March will qualify as such.

IF you have any advice whatsoever for students traveling to Oaxaca, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared it with me.  Thank you Norma, Fantastic work!

A: Please tell everyone that Oaxaca is probably as safe as any U.S. city,  and equally as safe or safer than yours. It is a pedestrian town and people are on the streets strolling through the evening and well into the night.  I am in Oaxaca several times a year, just returned after two weeks during the winter holidays and I’m going back again in two weeks for our documentary film workshop.  I have never felt at risk or threatened.  Of course, I am always aware of my environment and who is walking toward me.  I watch my back when withdrawing money at ATMs (just as I would at home in North Carolina).  It is important to respect the fact that you are in another country and take notice.  You are traveling in a group and if you go out in pairs there should be no problem at all.  If your family has concerns, please ask them to read this blog or send me an email.  Your school would not be taking you if they felt there was a risk.  The fear is being generated by the media focused on the drug wars that are far away from Oaxaca, mostly on the border towns.  The fact that you speak Spanish is an advantage.  Go … and have a great time.

Another Reader Says:  “I appreciate the info about the dance. I’ve just spent a month here studying art, architecture, archeology, dance, food etc. with Dr. Stephanie Wood, Dr. Ron Spores and others. Oaxaca is safe and wonderful and I urge all to come and learn about it. Everyone has been friendly and helpful.”

7 responses to “Q & A About Oaxaca Safety 2010

  1. Hi…i hope that someone reads this and replies because I do not know how old this blog is. My boyfriend and I are 23 and he currently moved back to Oaxaca to be with his family and was wanting me to move with him; he is full blooded mexican and I am a white american who doesn’t speak much Spanish. I agreed to move there and he agreed to pay my way but all my friends and their families are telling me horror stories about people being kidnapped, raped, murdered, etc., and have started making me very nervous and apprehensive about the move. The above statements have made me more assured but a little more assurance would be great to make the final decision. Thanks!

    • Hi, Jessica. I wrote this blog a few months ago and it holds true today, August 29, 2010. Oaxaca is very safe. It is as safe or safer than any U.S. city. The dangerous areas are primarily the border states of Mexico where the drug wars are located. Oaxaca is 375 miles southwest of Mexico City. I would not be bringing groups of people there for workshops if there was a risk for their and my safety. I you need to read all the comments from people that accompany this blog post and others I have written about safety — from travelers and from Americans who live in Oaxaca. Oaxaca is safe.

  2. This is reassuring to read. I’ve been wanting to visit Mexico for years now and have finally decided to stop waiting for the right travel partner. I’m planning a two week trip to Oaxaca at the end of October and am a little apprehensive, because everyone’s response to news of my solo trip is, “That sounds dangerous.” But from what I’ve read, as long as I use common sense, it should be as safe as any other city.

  3. I agree. I have lived here for 5 years and using the above mentioned cautions – I have never had a problem. Because of the many people walking and the kindness of the people I feel much safer here than any place I ever lived in the US.

  4. I completely agree. I’ve traveled by myself to Oaxaca about seven times in the last six years. While I, too, pay attention to my surroundings, I’ve never felt threatened or afraid at any time. A couple times when I’ve been out late I take a cab back to the posada rather than walking when I would have had to walk by myself. It is a fantastic place. Enjoy!

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