View of Ixtapa

View of Ixtapa. Photo by Page Cameron.

Travel is one of the great joys life has to offer, but that joy can rapidly become a nightmare if disaster strikes and you’re unprepared. Thinking about accidents and medical emergencies might not rate very high on the trip anticipation meter, but – as Benjamin Franklin so aptly put it centuries ago – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Following are some tips to keep in mind as you soak up the culture or laze on the beaches of Mexico…

Take a few minutes in each new city you visit to make a list of emergency phone numbers “just in case.” For instance, in our area, you can phone either the Red Cross (554-2009) or
the Fire Department (554-7551) for an ambulance. Dialing 554-2040 connects you with the Tourist Police. If you think you’ll need a doctor or a hospital while traveling, check out your options in advance.

If you’re caught flat-footed and trouble arises, all is not lost! Like many other countries, Mexico does have nationwide 3-digit emergency phone numbers: “066” gets you to the police, “065” is for medical crises, and “068” connects you with the fire department. If keeping all three of them straight is too much trouble, then emblazon “066” in your mental phone directory. It’s the equivalent of “911” in the U.S. and can be dialed from both land lines and cell phones. (In Mexcio’s more heavily populated areas, dialing “911” will automatically be rerouted to the correct “066” number. This DOES NOT work in Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, however!) The people answering this calls are in Mexico City and will help you get routed to the correct numbers in your location.

American citizens should strongly considering registering with the U.S. Embassy if they’ll be in Mexico for an extended period of time. The ONLY way to do this is online at Look for the suitcase with a check mark on the left side of the home page; what you want is called “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.” Not only can this save you time and aggravation later, but the site is chock full of useful information – plus you can sign up to receive travel updates and security alerts by providing a valid e-mail address.

Ixtapa’s U.S. Consular Agent is Debra Mione. The Consular Agency is located in Ixtapa’s Fontan Hotel, and Ms. Mione’s office hours are Monday through Friday from noon until 4 p.m. and the office phone number is 553- 2100. In bona fide emergencies, she can be contacted via cell phone at 755- 557-1106.

The closest Canadian Embassy is in Acapulco. The phone numbers are 744-484-1305 and 744-481-1349. If you’re calling from a land line in Zihuatanejo, precede these numbers with “01”; from a cell phone, just those 10 digits will do the trick.

Before you leave home for your time south of the border, make sure you have contact numbers for relatives and/or friends up north who need to be notified if problems arise.

If you’re living down here fulltime – or as a snowbird for much of the winter – have a plan in place for what to do if the unthinkable happens and the Grim Reaper interrupts your holiday. Not much fun thinking about this one, but the untimely death of a friend here recently emphasized how important it is for someone to know what to do in advance of a catastrophe.

In the event of a death, you must have a doctor come over to pronounce the person dead, decide the cause of death, and begin work on an official death certificate.The cost of this service will be about $2,000 pesos. Processing final paperwork for issuance of the death certificate takes a few days. You need one person who’s in charge to sign and a couple of witnesses to complete this task. All need to have proper ID (passports are preferred) to comply with the law. For this service, two good choices for a doctor are: Dr. Rogelio Grayeb (office 554-3334, cel. 044-755-551-3335, home 553-1711) or Dr. Olivia Montufar Mendoza (office 554- 2306, cel. 044-755-558-2235, home 553- 2330). Both speak English, and both are accustomed to being called at home at all hours of the night.

Having read all that, it’s time for you to carry on with cheerier things in paradise.