I’ve heard a lot of self-defence and different ways of defence. While travelling, however, I’ve never thought of buying a pepper spray. I’ve always had some concerns about it. I wasn’t convinced whether I really needed it. Why did I get persuaded to purchase one then?

Trip to Mexico: health and safety

From the very beginning of planning trip to Mexico conversations with my friend Karolina always concerned, besides buying a ticket, our health and safety. The first issue was quickly solved as we treated ourselves with proper vaccinations which I will tell about in another post. Let’s focus on a second issue then, which is safety. That we are surely flying to Mexico became obvious around 3 weeks before our journey. Those who know me well are aware that I sometimes happen to balance on the edge of risk but I usually try to calculate that risk. Before I go anywhere I do a lot of reading on the country of my destination.  I look through internet forum and blogs. I consult my friends or local people. Besides, I always try to have some local contact at my location in case of eventual problems. Sometimes it’s somebody I know. Sometimes it’s my friend’s friend and sometimes it’s somebody from Couch Surfing. Life taught me that knowing someone local is priceless.

Image courtesy of phasinphoto at
Image courtesy of phasinphoto at

First of all insurance

I also know from my experience that it’s very important to buy a good insurance policy. Some people give up on it especially when they go on a package tour where a travel agency is obliged to insure us. Unfortunately, no law defines the minimum amount of such an insurance policy so often it’s the lowest amount, and when you really need help it turns out that it takes additional costs. I experienced it myself in Gran Canaria. You can read about it here. That’s why it’s worth having some additional insurance with, first of all, all limits given; medical costs minimum up to 75 000 EUR and Third Party Liability Insurance 50 000 EUR. It’s good to check whether your insurance policy includes amateur sports.

Which insurance i recommend?

For students and people up to 30 years of age I personally recommend European Youth Card Euro 26 which is valid all year throughout the world excluding the USA  and Canada. According to what is written, the formalities are limited to just one phone call to Assistance number which is given on a card. They act quickly and smoothly and do not require your own contribution. If it comes to people over 30 years of age, I recommend Allianz or Esky. Esky offers insurance policies even late at night on the phone without leaving the house. It’s very useful, especially when we decide to leave right before our flight. Luckily for me I didn’t have to use any of them but I got  convinced by comprehensive insurance conditions and high liability limits. If you have other experience in this field, please share it with the others in the comments.

Karolina wasn’t convinced to buying an insurance policy but finally I managed to convince her that 35 EUR  is quite a small expense compared to potential costs of even a silly doctor’s visit. Mexico, contrary to appearances, isn’t cheap at all.

Malaria and rabies in Mexico

I managed to close the topic of safety. Unfortunately Karo read awfully a lot about abductions and attacks in Mexico. Each day she got more and more upset by the fact that there were only us two girls travelling and that before we would arrive at my friend’s, we would have to stay for the night at some boy’s house whom I had known only for 3 days. Moreover, she got more and more stressed by malaria and rabies which we hadn’t been vaccinated against.

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at
Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at

In practice there’s no vaccine against malaria and rabies. If it comes to rabies, let’s be honest, even on European street you can be bitten by a dog as well. Objectively, I didn’t believe that there was a bigger threat in Mexico. Though we planned to visit jungle but not on our own. If it comes to malaria, there are anti-malarial drugs commonly used which, depending on a given model, you start taking before your journey or during it. Unfortunately, they don’t guarantee 100% protection and are very overburdening and there are people who react very badly to them. As a consequence, they feel even worse than if they got sick. As far as I know, famous traveller Cejrowski never used them. But I also have friends who felt well after having taken them.

How to protect against mosquitoes?

I decided not to belittle the issue and started reading on malaria in Mexico. There are indeed a few malarial regions but the main danger takes place in the jungle and little villages. These places were in fact in our itinerary, so there was some chance to come in contact with an infected mosquito. If we don’t decide to take medications, we’ll have to find another way to minimalize this danger. First of all, in evenings we should wear clothes covering our body and do not stay out especially during sunsets as mosquitos get the most aggressive at that time. Then they go to sleep so we’re safe. It’s worth applying some mosquito repellent. I personally recommend Mugga (available in spray and stick deodorant) which works on both ordinary and tropical mosquitos. We can also apply it before we go to bed so that nothing can bite us at night. I think it should be done even if we sleep under a mosquito net. As they say, better safe than sorry.

17. mugga

Is Mexico kidnap people?

Let’s come back to assaults and abductions. Anyway, my parents and my dad especially also warned me against that with wagging their fingers and saying that I was looking for adventures. I can be abducted and then sold, etc.

I usually try to be rational about such issues but because it was my first time in Mexico I decided to explore the topic more. Sad reality is such that Mexico is a very corrupt country and in fact, criminality is a very common phenomenon, among other things because police often works for mafia organisations. Until today there are so many unsolved abductions, including a few hundred students who were missing probably out of corrupt policemen’s hands. It isn’t true that it’s dangerous everywhere in Mexico, but I’ll talk about it in a different post.

17. patrol policji

What about buying pepper spray?

The fact that Karolina and I will be on our own and that it’s obvious at first glance that we’re tourists was thought provoking for us. It’s rather too late for a self-defence course and excessive gym practice. We agreed on buying a pepper spray or something like this. At first I thought that Karo exaggerated a bit. Besides, we may hurt ourselves. I remember until today half of my class in primary school ending up in hospital due to poisoning when one friend mistook gas for a deodorant.

17. rossfire

So  I went to a military store recommended by my colleague. There I came across a very nice shop assistant who, for 15 min, kept on explaining patiently what a pepper spray was and how it could help us. It turned out that there were several different types and you could find a matching one- the most convenient and the safest in use at the same time. I decided on the one produced by Sabre Red of crossfire series which can be fired at any position. It’s very important because some gases work only in horizontal position and it’s known that when you’re terrified there’s not time to think how to place a hand properly. This one works in any position, even upside down. It’s also easy and safe to use with one finger only thanks to its release mechanism Flip-Top which protects us from pressing the trigger accidently.

A special nozzle allows for using the gas even against strong wind without any fear that we might irritate our own eyes. To my surprise such a gas isn’t expensive at all. The cost is about 15 € and due to the fact that expiry date is very long (even a few years) we can take it to all our trips. So this how I bought my first pepper spray.

At the end interesting video to watch about how does pepper spray work and what are the effects.

Do you want to know whether I felt safe thanks to pepper spray or whether I finally used it in some action? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to share your opinions.

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