Tuesday, November 27, 2012


While in Gila Bend, we were putting the finishing touches on our plan for entry into Mexico. It isn't difficult but you need to have things ready to go. Paper work in place and at the ready, stocked up on some items and more importantly, vehicle insurance to be secured. The closer you get to the border the less opportunity you have to get what you need. As we were crossing into Mexico at Lukeville/Sonyata we knew that Ajo was our last chance stop.

We headed there on a Saturday afternoon. Entering Mexico on the Monday or Tuesday was the original plan until Kevin of Travel with Kevin and Ruth wrote that Sunday was a good day to cross the border. Since we were ready to roll that was all the motivation we needed.

From Gila Bend it is a quick trip down the 85 to Ajo. 

The drive is fairly scenic especially at one point. The problem is that we have done this route so many times I take it for granted - and forgot to take pictures. Plus it was a pretty grey day.

I guess I was also thinking about the next few days to come. We were a bit nervous about what was in store for us just getting into Mexico.

Entering into Ajo.

I also didn't take any pictures as we drove through Ajo. Poor Ajo - it seems to look worse each time we come through. It's a sad looking town with businesses closing and such, I just didn't have the heart to post pictures.

Three things had to happen in Ajo. Gas, groceries and vehicle insurance. We decided to get the insurance done first. Now - I KNOW that most everyone buys there Mexico vehicle insurance on line. But that takes a credit card - right?! So - we had the plan to stop and get ours near the border. My first thought was to get it further north - perhaps in Buckeye. But while doing my research Mexico Mike recommended one of the insurance offices in Ajo. So we decided to go with that and stopped in. 

Unfortunately we stumbled upon a MAJOR problem there. Because our van is more than 15 years old they could only sell us insurance that would cover liability on the van. YIKES! Very strange - I could purchase full coverage on line by myself but the insurance broker could not. In the end, they lent us their computer, I filled out the paperwork - used a credit card number of someone I know (Thanks MOM!), printed it out and we were on our way. 

WoW! Close one.

So, I too recommend the Ajo Insurance Center if you are headed to Mexico - and if your vehicle is newer than 15 years of course. They were very friendly and helpful - letting us use their computer was a real life saver for sure!

Right next door was the gas and the door after that the grocery store. Boy, the groceries at Ajo are expensive - I knew that from previous years. So we just purchased a few things - had some lunch in the parking lot and continued our trek south.

We had a few options to overnight. The plan was to get a very early start Sunday morning. We could have stayed at an RV park in Ajo but it is 37 miles to the border from there. We could have stayed at the Organ Pipe National Monument campground - it is fairly close to the border - but a bit steep at $20 for no hook ups. 

In the end we chose the campground in Lukeville. Gringo Pass is listed in the Church's Mexican Camping book. It was a bit of a gamble because it said that it was behind a closed hotel plus I couldn't find any info on it on line. But we decided to chance it anyway.

There was NO WAY that we were staying in that park - it doesn't even look like it is open anymore. Oh I know it doesn't look so bad in the picture and it even looks like someone else is parked there. But it totally gave us the heeby jeebies.

Instead we chose this crazy parking spot just outside of the park. We figured it was a bit of a no man's land. Stealth camping at it's finest. You can't even tell that we are just around the corner from the border. A border patrol fellow did stop to talk to us but being from Minnesota he was more happy to talk to fellow northerners then about where we were parked. He said he didn't blame us about not wanting to park in the RV park and wished us a good evening.

The good news was that when we woke up and were ready to go Sunday morning, we were about 5 seconds from the border!


And so starts our Mexican adventure.

Coming along?


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: Do you follow Nomadic Matt? Now might be the time to check him out - he's headed to Africa for the first time! Should be interesting to see how he makes out!


  1. Enjoy Mexico it is awesome and travel safely.

  2. Looking forward to the next few updates!

  3. Have a great trip hope you stop at Hacienda Contreras to visit Kevin & Ruth, They are friends of Donna and Mine and have visited our home in Mo. twice. We have to wait Until my wife Donna retires in the Spring before we set out on a journey. hoping for next winter in Mexico.Have a great journey and be safe out there. Sam & Donna....

    1. Hi Sam! Thanks for writing! I visited you site....

      We are definitely thinking about Hacienda Contreras - we will be up that way since we would like to visit the hot springs and water park at Villa Corona.

      Looking forward to your future travels and joining all of us down here in Mexico next winter!

  4. Hoping Mexico's port of entry patrol treat you better than the US Patrol port of entry :)

    The last time we traveled from Houston to Laredo to Monterrey, we had a great time (5 day trip 2002). This is 2012 and things are very different with USA to Mexico travel. Were very hesitant about Mexico travel due to safety concerns and all we hear and read in the media.


    Does anyone use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and does it actually work?
    The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.

    We're hoping to reacquaint with Monterrey in the next few months; no RV travel, just a road trip with hotels and maybe some B&B's.

    We rented a car last time on the USA side and had no issues, but to take the Sorento across might be better!? Any recommendations for best place to buy online vehicle insurance, US to Mexico?

    Have a fantastic trip in Mexico and don't run over any Giant Iguanas :)

    Brian & Nancy (Austin, TX)

    1. True - Mexico travel is different - but then traveling anywhere in the world these days is different then it was - right?! I don't know - you hear a lot of stuff about Mexico but so far we've encountered no issues. We follow many travel blogs of other's RVing in Mexico with no issues either. Two men were just shot dead in Burnaby up in BC where we live......

      Don't let the media keep you away .....

      A great resource for you is On the Road in Mexico http://www.ontheroadin.com and the corresponding facebook page. The fb page is great because people write in daily with questions/concerns and notices. On the Road also has a link for insurance that you can buy on line.

      Hopefully you will get further than Monterrey one day - the trouble spots in Mexico seem to be closest to the border. Also check out Travel with Kevin and Ruth - they have traveled extensively through Mexico and are a great resource as well. http://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

      I haven't used STEP and haven't heard of anyone else using it either.

      Oh - won't giant iguanas be fun for Cassia!

  5. Thanks for the input Teresa, your right, just need to be very aware of everything around you and your right about the border towns; Monterrey & Guadalajara were the only non-tourist destination visits...the rest have been beach going resort cities.

    I love the people of Mexico, for the most part they are very warm people wanting to help. The bus drivers on the hand are real peels, you will find out soon enough in your camper van (have you named the van, surely it deserves a name, eh?).

    Nancy has just updated her passport, but we're still waiting for it. I'll look at the links you mentioned on insurance and I've started to read Kevin & Ruth's blog, thanks to you.

    Yes, Cassia should love the iguanas they will amaze and amuse her. I'm truly thankful they are vegan : & not like their cousin the crocodile. Don't forget they live in Mexican waters, very tasty I hear :)


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