Filled the fresh water, used the dump station, and rinsed the holding tanks. Sherman was ready to go!
There was very little traffic on a Sunday morning in Laredo. This was exactly what we were hoping for. We headed to the Columbia bridge crossing, which is about 25 miles (40 kms) along the border, west of Laredo. There are two crossing in the city of Laredo, but neither are recommended for RV’s. The Columbia bridge crossing was designed to remove some of the truck congestion from Laredo, and on a Sunday morning it was very quiet too. We got there about 8:30am.
We paid our $3.00 toll to cross the bridge, and on the other side were the Mexican military. They had two vehicles pulled over and were inspecting them. Our turn was next and they were very polite. They asked if they could look inside, and we all joked about Whiskey. She lived up to her “beware of dog” sign in the window and barked at the soldiers. Good Whiskey! One fellow spoke decent English. They wished us a safe trip, and we thanked them for their security.
Next was the customs line, and when you pull up to the customs booth you are randomly given either a red light or a green light. Obviously with a green light you simply cross through, and with a red light they pull you over for further inspection. This time, we got a red light, and four or five customs officers asked us questions, had a look inside Sherman and checked the 10 year permit that Sherman has glued to the inside of his windshield. We had bought a 10 year permit the first time we entered Mexico in the fall of 2007. Everything checked out okay, and we could now pull over and go get our tourist permits.
So, parked off to the side, Whiskey stayed with Sherman while Ruth and I took our passports to the “Migracion” office. The fellow on duty seemed to enjoy practicing his English, while we were trying to remember some broken Spanish. We filled out the forms and were given the typical 180 day tourist visa. Then across the hall to the “Banjercito” to pay the 262 pesos ($21.83) per person for the visa.
From start to finish, this all took about 45 minutes. Now, it was time to drive the “border zone”. Obviously you all know about the problems Mexico has been having with the drug violence, and a lot of it has happened near the northern border. One of the reasons we chose the Columbia crossing to Monterrey is that most of the route is on a toll road and it bypasses the border city of Nuevo Laredo.
No problems this particular morning. We didn’t see a single head rolling down the road. No bodies, no nothing. In fact, it was all as if everybody was just going about their daily business.
There is another border checkpoint about 25 kms (15 miles) south of Laredo, towards Monterrey. On a Sunday morning, and sometimes randomly, they will close that checkpoint to truck traffic. There had to be hunderds of trucks pulled off to the side of the road three deep waiting for the checkpoint to open. We squeezed by to the booth and the border guy took one look at our new tourist visas and waved us on through. Clear sailing! The toll road to Monterrey was a dream to drive on…I could almost feel Sherman smiling! By the way, it was getting hot too…high was around 32C (90F). Lovely!
Expensive toll roads in Mexico though. We spent almost 500 pesos ($42.00) to get to our destination. We could have taken the free road, but in the border zone we just figured this was money well spent. Also, when you take the toll road you are also buying roadside assistance. If you break down on a toll road here, you just call 074 on your cell phone and they send mechanics and tow trucks if necessary. Not sure of the details, but I think most of this does not cost. Even on a free road, the Mexican government has “green angels” who are mechanics that drive the main highways helping out anyone who might be broken down. You have to buy any parts, but their service is free.
We made it around the Monterrey bypass, but as we exited the toll road we made one wrong turn. At the town of Cadereyta we followed the signs to Allende. But this road went right through “el Centro” which pretty much means your heading downtown. Many town squares are built around roads that are not very wide and it’s not a very good idea to take an RV to one of these areas. It was a little tight at times, but fortunately we made it back on track without an issue.
Heading into Allende, a car coming the other way flashed it’s lights and braked. It was our friends Chris and Juan. We had guessed we would meet them about 2:00pm and it was now about 2:30pm so they decided to drive the way we would be coming to make sure we didn’t have problems. Chris and Juan live just outside of Monterrey and have a small lot in Allende that is great for parking an RV. We stayed at the lot in the spring of 2009 when we were leaving Mexico. Chris is a helpful guy in the Mexican RV’ing community. You can check out his blog here…
So they got us parked up here (total peace and quiet) and then they took us for late lunch/early dinner. After dinner, they showed us another spot we could stay for a night if we like. It’s at a “campestre”…a spot where locals go for the weekend. Swimming pools, walking trails, a small lake. Busy during the summer, but very quiet at this time of year, especially during the week.
We don’t really have a schedule now, except to be around Acapulco by December 20. So we may stay here for a day or two. So happy to be back in Mexico! And so glad our border crossing day was uneventful!
Todays drive. 310 kms (190 miles)