It sounded so exciting. A three-day weekend to Acapulco, Mexico, to enjoy the high cliff divers from the top of La Quebrada with dinner at the El Mirador Hotel (Plazoleta La Quebrada 74, 52 744 483 1155). It was Eduardo’s idea, a friend who flies his own Cessna Citation, and before you can say Ay dios mio, we were checking into the Fairmont Acapulco Princess (Costera de Las Palmas, 01 744 469 1000), a spectacular hotel that once was home to Howard Hughes.
That’s when we heard the first news alert about a decapitation in the neighborhood. And then a second decapitation. We don’t know about you, but to us such turn of events tend to put a pale on after-dinner drink small talk. On closer examination, it seems these were two of 1,029 murders that took place last year in the Paradise of the Americas. Apparently, a lot has changed since Elizabeth Taylor had her third of eight marriages there, and Edgar Valdez became known as the drug lord La Barbie. Acapulco has become the fourth most dangerous city in the world to visit with 127.92 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants. On February 8, 2012, the State Department placed Mexico on its list of countries too dangerous or unstable to encourage Americans to visit. That places Mexico right in the same category as Afghanistan, Iran and Syria.
We have a few more warnings of our own to add to the list, while the State Department plays catch-up. We can’t really recommend going to Belem, Brazil, once on our “favorites list” since it sits at the entrance to the Amazon River and is home to the architecturally significant Belem Cathedral. Last year, there were
1,639 murders in Belem, mostly over the rights to log in the Amazon, where mostly illegal deforestation is occurring at a rate of 10,000 square miles a year.
There are also no warning flags cautioning travel to Caracas, Venezuela. While we can’t recommend it right now—there were 3,164 murders there—at one time, Caracas’ Paseo de los Proceres was one of our favorite gardens to stroll (and cruise!). While its lovely lawns, flowers and sculpture is still in place and as magnificent as ever, armed robbery is rampant, as are attacks on gays and lesbians, who in Venezuela are still subject to extreme discrimination. Oh well. Nice house; no furniture.
Should you be thinking about taking a trip to Honduras, think again. Though it is home to the Bay Islands (with the second largest coral reef in the world), as well as the Mayan ruins at Copán and the sprawling Lancetilla Botanical Gardens in Tela, Honduras also is extremely anti-gay, with homosexual and transgender murders a frequent occurrence. In 2009, Honduras’ best-known LGBT leader, 27-year-old Walter Trochez, was assassinated by state security forces after he launched a protest against the murders of gays. In 2011, there were 1,123 murders in Hondorus’ central district. Most of these were never solved, with the killers remaining free.
And while we’re talking Honduras, try to imagine life in San Pedro Sula. While it is the second largest city in the country, and home to thriving coffee, banana, tobacco, beet and sugar cane plantations, it also holds the record of the murder capital of the world with a 1,143. Lovely but deadly, like so much of the world seems to be these days.