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May, 7, 2011 Don't Believe The Hype!

 SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mx. -- The latest State Department travel warning for Mexico highlights the hot-spots --but what about the rest of the country? The perception that Mexico is dangerous has hurt some tourist spots - places where drug violence is not a threat.

With its colonial architecture, nearly perfect climate and rich culture, San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico has long been a favorite with Americans.

"We sold everything we owned, bought a van and moved to Mexico," says Tuli Hardy.

Tuli Hardy and her husband now run a language school.

We spoke to some mothers who are spending the spring learning Spanish in San Miguel with their young children.

"I let my kids walk alone to school," says mom Bridgette Hart.

Back home in Portland, Oregon where the drug war dominates news about Mexico, some questioned whether it's safe.

"Absolutely. Everyone thinks we're crazy," visitor Amanda Houston says.

But, even this place many see as the perfect getaway cannot escape the perception that all of Mexico is a dangerous. And that hurt tourism.

"Everybody took a dip and some took a dive with their businesses. So it was tough," explains Hardy.

The past couple of years it translated to a decline in enrollment at the language school by at least half. Things are starting to improve.

One woman we spoke to left Dallas for Aspen. Now, she's considering a move to San Miguel.

"Don't believe all the hype about the violence. I think that this particular area, San Miguel, is quite safe and I feel very comfortable here," says Spanish student Monica Ebaugh.

While many residents and visitors clearly consider San Miguel perfectly safe, there have been travel warnings recently about roads leading here that suggest organized crime is creeping closer and closer to a place many Americans consider a haven and others call home.

In February, gunmen attacked two ICE agents on a federal highway in neighboring San Luis Potosi. And lingering concerns about narco checkpoints in Northern Mexico scared many Texans who used to drive here.

"I'll be able to tell people I just drove it and don't worry," says restaurant owner Robin Spencer.
 

After staying off the roads for awhile, Spenser will make the drive again this month to visit her daughter in Dallas. She hopes to reassure others as San Miguel gears up for the summer vacation season.

"It still has a magical feeling to it," said one fan.

There's hope that magical feeling will replace any fears Americans have about traveling to this part of Mexico.