Hitchhiking in Mexico

Hitchhiking in Mexico

Sweating in the Heat & Hitchhiking to Muna

Everyone I know thought it was insane to hitchhike in Mexico. But the majority of these people have never actually hitchhiked anywhere, let alone Mexico. Watching sensationalized news reports does not make people experts at threat analysis…

Hitching out of a major city can be difficult, so I decided to jump into a collectivo to get out of the city of Merida and visit the Hacienda Yaxcopoil a few miles away. It’s an old Spanish estate & plantation.

After my visit to the crumbling hacienda, I started walking down the highway. It was getting late, and even though I probably could have picked up a ride to the next town to get a hotel, I decided to find a place to camp out for the night. A night of camping would be cheaper, and I could pick up a ride the next day.

This particular highway is very busy, and just to be safe I didn’t want anyone to see me leaving the road to go into the woods. Once I found an area of land that wasn’t blocked off by barbed wire, I started looking for some good trees far enough away from the road and without too much underbrush.

Hennesy Camping Hammock

Camping with my Hennesy Hammock

I use a great lightweight camping hammock that has bug netting attached which is very comfortable, and allows me to set up over rocks and uneven land.

When I saw a good spot, I just started walking back and forth along the road until there were no cars coming from either direction, then I started hiking into the woods. This was so I wouldn’t be seen by a local who knew I was trespassing on someone else’s land. A common sense stealth camping technique. :)

I discovered a nice grove of solid trees that would hide me from the road. I had just put my stuff down and started to set up my hammock when suddenly a huge animal burst from the underbrush 3 feet away from me! It startled me so much that I automatically yanked pepper spray from my pocket ready to blind whatever it was…

Wild Turkey Eggs

Wild Turkey Nest with Eggs

I had stumbled upon a wild turkey nest! A gigantic turkey had been camouflaged in front of me, and only when I almost stepped on her did she fly off in front of my face.

I calmed down and checked out where she had been hiding, only to discover 2 large speckled eggs in the nest. I wouldn’t be setting up the hammock between these particular trees anymore… There was another set of trees about 50 yards away where I finished setting up camp as the sun set.

I tried to sleep without earplugs in, but the night noises of the woods were pretty loud. To try and get some much needed sleep without worrying about the strange sounds I was hearing, the earplugs went in.

The next day I got a ride to the little town of Muna with a local farmer. It took about 30 minutes to get picked up. We tried to talk a bit, but it was the usual “where are you from, how long are you here, do you like Mexico” kind of thing. If I had learned some more Spanish before I got here, we could have had a better conversation. He was very friendly though and the trip was pretty uneventful.

While I was out on the road, everyone driving past seemed a bit surprised to see me hitchhiking, I think they assume most foreign tourists are rich and should be traveling by first class bus. The foreigners in the first class busses that passed me seemed equally surprised. They don’t know what they’re missing! :)

19 Comments

  1. Cool hammock. I can’t sleep peacefully without something to keep the creepy crawlers off. I agree with the media hype on the violence in Mexico. Even though it does happen, alot of what is reported is sensationalized and misleading. There are areas I would avoid but there are plenty of areas I avoid in the US as well.

  2. Good article and great message. Felicidades. Mexican people are hospitable, fun loving and family oriented. In other words: sane and pleasant.

  3. Hi Matt,
    I enjoyed your article. Your article brings back memories of my hitchhiking journey in the 1990’s from Mexico City down the coast through Chiapas and back up the West coast to the states.

    Mexico was my absolute favorite place to travel. The people were extremely kind and generous. We didn’t have money really, my friend got some work cutting sugar cane and whenever we were invited into a home, I would help clean and watch the kids.

    People would see us by the side of the road and send their children out with plates of food for us to eat- even a plate of scraps for my dog! I also loved that we could cook our food by the side of the road (hidden if possible) without anyone coming to tell us it was “illegal”.

    I loved Mexico- although we walked most of the time- it is a beautiful country and its people are amazing.

  4. Hey, good to hear your story. I’m hitch hiking south from Houston along the gulf of Mexico.. Is that where the narco wars are? I’m trying to figure out a solid plan, thanks bro

  5. Ha, I’m honestly not the type to hitchhike anywhere, but I would actually do it where you did before many places. I really did find the locals in the Yucatan to be some of the nicest people. I didn’t get out into the villages as much, but the locals I met in Mérida were very proud of their city and eager to talk about it! Some concluded with a shop they just happened to want to recommend but more often, it was just a nice to meet you and an adios!

    Quite an adventure you’re having, keep it up!

    1. Yes, the people are very friendly! I never felt unsafe hitchhiking there.

      But the guys that talk to you in the central park for 15 minutes in English, before recommending you go to a Mayan shop, is a total scam. That’s their job, to talk up foreigners and send them to a hammock store. Some will say the shop is closing later that day for a holiday or something. It never does… These guys are only friendly on a commission basis. ;)

    1. “Always smile big” is the best tip I can give you. Don’t look like a complete bum, and don’t wear sunglasses. You’ll get picked up more often. :)

      Use common sense. Always ask where they are going first, so you can back out if it doesn’t feel right, by saying they aren’t going your way.

  6. No way! I was trying to hitchhike from Uxmal – either to Muna or to Santa Elena in the other direction, whichever happened first. I walked and waited for over an hour, 27 vehicles passed, but nobody would stop until finally someone gave me a ride to Santa Elena. The second time I did this was from Ek Balam to Valladolid but that took a long time because the guy wanted to go somewhere first. Ah, fun times!

  7. I feel very safe in this part of Mexico, no reason to worry. Miami is much worse than this, as are most major US cities. I'm as safe here as I would be in rural Plymouth New Hampshire. It's the crazy narco war in the north of Mexico that makes people think the whole country is unsafe, but it isn't. :-)

  8. I cannot imagine what your Mom must be thinking about this post. As your Aunt I was gasping, and I'm grateful you made it through the night safely. It sounds like you know what you're doing, Matt, but I'll still say special prayers for your safety. We love you, buddy!

  9. You are one brave sole. We would be the ones riding by and wondering what the hell you are doing, on our way to the nice hotel. = )

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