Friday was the day to cross the border into Mexico.
Can't say that we really enjoy crossing borders. Whether crossing from Canada to the USA or now the USA to Mexico. The difference with Mexico of course is the language and the paperwork.
It all gets us a bit stressed out.
BUT - we had things to do in Laredo before we were to meet Chris at Home Depot at around 10:00am.
First stop - Walgreens for organic cotton for Derek's e-cig. We really should have done that earlier but I was convinced there would be one close to the main strip in Laredo - nope. Darn. So - first thing - in the rain - we had to make our way through Laredo streets to find it. Good thing they had the cotton - we stocked up.
Next up - vehicle insurance. Ok - so yes, I realize that this can be done on-line. Everyone does it on-line. Except us. We don't have a credit card. I had done my research and found an insurance office not far from Home Depot. Even with driving around looking for Walgreens we were early - and they were late. Not that it mattered - it took until about 9:30am to be told that their office in California doesn't open until 11:00am our time so they couldn't help us. Thankfully they did provide a map for Johnson's Insurance closer to the border.
It was getting close to our meeting time with Chris so we just headed back to HD to wait.
Sorry, no pictures.
It was so good to see Chris pull into the parking lot - love when plans do come together.
We made a plan to stop off at the Insurance office, which was conveniently located at the Exxon gas station we both needed gas as well.
No problems with the insurance - it cost us $178.
Most RVers crossing into Mexico at Laredo go through the Columbia Bridge crossing which makes a lot of sense. We on the other hand are going straight through the downtown - I can't say we would have been brave enough to do without Chris.
This was the first time we were stopped on the USA side. We pulled into a line up of about five cars and asked to wait on the sidewalk. While we were visiting with two border guards interested in Rufus - an extra vehicle drove by the vehicles and then our van was checked.
It costs $3.50 US to cross the bridge - the border is at the half way mark.
At this point we were to stick to the left using the 'nothing to declare' lane.
Then you come to a gate. We were a little slow and stopped - you are supposed to drive right up to the gate for it to open. The border people waved at us - sheesh, feeling a little sheepish. Anyway, as we came closer they just kept waving us through - good news! A green light. Crossing into Mexico whether by land or air, there is a random red light green light system in place. We've yet to get a red light.
May as well tell you here that although this is a new border crossing for us we had a little help. The night before I found this information Driving to Potrero Chico (no idea where or what Potrero Chico is) which seemed to give good info about locating the Aduana. I was a bit sceptical but it's all we had. We parted ways with Chris at the bridge - he was going to wait for us at the Pemex just past the 21 km mark.
As soon as you get past the actual border you are here.
Glad I found the link above - it warned of a narrow regular looking road. Yup - right one.
Glad to see this sign - it's what we were looking for.
If you went to the link above you'll have seen that we actually start heading out of town only to turn around and head back to close to where we came over the river.
Here is the turn around - or retorno - we have to take. Ok - so here we really really screwed up. Learn from us if you come this way. See on the left where it looks like there are two roads? Well, there are - when returning go all the way to the far lane. We didn't and headed back towards the USA. I had Derek stop and turn around. The problem was we went down a one way in the wrong direction. Is that a police siren? Yup - so we were pulled over. The officer had every right to charge us but after hearing our storey he let us go - very nice.
A few minutes later we were pulling into the Aduana. With all the excitement I forgot to take a picture of the exterior. If you do go to the link above there is a really good description of the process - we did exactly as listed. From crossing into Mexico two years ago at least we did know exactly what we were here for. The difference when we crossed in November of 2012 at Lukeville in Arizona was that we received our Tourist Visa right at the border but drove to the Banjercito 21km for our Vehicle Permit. Here they are done together.
It's a process. I can't say it is difficult just a bit challenging for us with the language barrier. We really do try to understand and communicate in Spanish but we are rough. It usually takes about and hour and did so here, our timing was right because there was quite a line up by the time we were done.
The cost was $130 for the three tourist visas and vehicle permit.
Back to the van and on our way.
We watched everyone leaving go through this gate so we did as well. However, he asked us what we wanted ---- hmmmmm ---- guess not - we smiled and drove on.
We headed back towards the place we returned earlier and carried on south along the Boulevard Luis Donaldo Colosio which would take us to the 85.
We easily found Chris at the Pemex and after a short stop we continued.
I neglected to take pictures of the time we were stopped. There is no longer a check at the 21 km mark although they did look at our paperwork. However, further on we were stopped - both of us - for another look at our paperwork and a look into the van. All was ok.
You can take either the cuota or the libre to Monterrey - we took the cuota - the toll highway. The cost was 205 Pesos - so $15.12 in USD, $17.23 in CAN - probably one of the higher tolls that we will encounter.
Then into and over the mountains - we were struck by the greenery.
It was a slow climb due to construction - that's ok - easier for us to keep up with Chris and get a good look around.
There's Hraefn in the window!
Right into the city.
It was a bit crazy!
So so so glad we had someone to follow. It was dicey at times because we had to stick close enough behind Chris so that we wouldn't get separated without actually hitting him. Looks easy here but there were moments where we had to stick really close.
I show this picture because this vehicle in front of us was a thorn in our side. The first time they cut in and slowed right down. We watched Chris disappear (you can see that in the video). Derek was able to move to the left and go around her. A few miles down she did it again. But this time when Derek tried to pass on the left the lane was turning. We had no choice but to stop and wait for the traffic to clear before continuing on. Not easy - we got a few honks. Thankfully Chris realized we were gone and pulled to the side to wait for us.
Here's a clip from our trip. I didn't think to film it until after the most congested area. It was a bumpy ride which you can tell from the dishes rattling and my inability to keep the camera level.
It was an adventure to be sure!
With all the movie filming, the camera ran out of battery just before we arrived at Chris and Juan's. Too bad to because the road into their place was something to see. There were cars everywhere as we watched Chris take his trailer down onto a narrow dirt road.
I believe we arrived around 5:00pm.
What a day.
We're in Mexico!