The Metropolitan Cathedral in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 5, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First day in Mexico!

Long day for us yesterday. We drove 286 miles (457 kms)...about double what we normally do.

We woke up at around 7:00am and hit the road right away. When we travel in the motorome in Mexico we like to get as early a start as possible. Never know what snags you might encounter along the way and you want to have as much time to fix them in daylight as possible.

Plus, we had to drive about an hour just to get to the border crossing itself.

Around 7:40am, the sun made it's appearance.

We stopped a couple of times along the way to try and get on the internet, but no success. Didn't waste a lot of time searching for a signal though. Made it to the trucking toll highway that goes from the I35 to the Colombia bridge. What a stupid toll system. You either have to buy a tag which is designed for regular users, or you can buy a single day pass which costs between $3 to $4 depending on what type of vehicle you have.

But you can't do any of it in cash that day. You have to call a 1-800 number ahead of time and buy it using a credit card. I tried to do exactly  that, but they're closed on the weekends! So we simply drove through and when the automatic camera system took a photo of Sherman they wouldn't be able to read our plate number because the bicycles obscure it. 

Made it to the Colombia Bridge at around 9:00am. Paid the $3.50 bridge toll and crossed into Mexico. 

I had detailed the procedure in a blog post last month, which helped to refresh my memory of things...


They've changed things a little since the last time we crossed there. Now, they have one of those huge x-ray machines on the Mexican side and you park before the building to go in and get your permits. It used to be after the building. Not a ton of room for motorohomes anymore, but they moved some cones and made room for us.

Then, a couple of inspectors came on board and poked around, opened a couple of couple doors, and complimented Sherman on his appearance. I think they just wanted to see the inside.

We went in and got our visitor permits, good for 180 days and cost 664 pesos ($53.80 CAD) for the two of us. Then had to get some photocopies of the permits and that cost a ridiculous 36 pesos ($2.90). 

Next stop was the vehicle permit. Sherman gets a 10 year permit and the cost was 989 pesos. That's based on a USD $51.75 rate, so the peso rate changes daily. Plus, there was a couple of taxes that we didn't question. For us, it translates to around $80 CAD for the ten years.

Then, they said we had to go through the x-ray machine. Ruth was asked to remain outside and I had to drive Sherman onto a fancy ramp and then the operator led me to a shielded area while the x-ray machine rolled itself over Sherman. Quite the operation.

Then, we drove Sherman off and back to the building where we were told to wait. About 10 minutes later, we were told we could be on our way.

We were there exactly one hour from the time we arrived to the time we left. Not bad.

The road on the Mexican side leaving from the Colombia crossing to highway 85 heading south is not in good shape. Drive slowly, and watch for potholes!

Highway #85 heading south, before you get to the choice of free or toll. 
The sign says "Welcome to the state of Nuevo Leon"

Two choices when heading towards Monterrey...the free road, or the toll road. We've done the toll road before, but it's expensive and we had been told that the free road is in good shape. And it was. No reason not to take the free road. It will be slightly slower, but free!

We made it to Sabinas Hidalgo and missed a turn. There is a way to bypass the town, but rather than look for it, we just drove through. Good thing it was not bad.

In the town of Sabinas Hidalgo.

Driving through el centro in Sabinas Hidalgo.

On the free road heading towards Monterrey.

Another bit of congestion just before the outskirts of Monterrey.

We then had another choice to make. The free road through Monterrey, or the toll highway that bypasses Monterry. You'd think this would be an easy choice, and it was...however at a price. The toll road cost 298 pesos ($24.50 CAD) for Sherman. Expensive, but saved on wear and tear for the driver! Plus fuel use would be less on the toll road.

We made it to Santiago around 4:00pm. A long day for us, but we had told Chris and Juan that we would make it by happy hour!

The road in to their place is not in great shape. But Sherman has done roads like this before. You just have to take it easy. But the problem was not in the road itself, it was the turn from the highway to get on to the road. Not easy for larger vehicles. After having done a three point turn to get around the cars parked at the sides of the road, and with Sherman's back end actually hanging into the main highway, we made it. Only problem will be getting out!! I am seriously concerned about that, but we'll deal with it when we leave.

The road leading to Chris and Juan's place.

We couldn't get Sherman into their driveway but they had made arrangements with a neighbour and a gated lot that wasn't being used.

Sherman, happily parked for the next couple of days.

Unfortunately, Chris was called in to work in Texas and we're not sure yet that he'll be back in time to see us before we leave. In the meantime, Juan is pretty good at entertaining us on his own! We still managed to solve a few of the world's problems!

Juan and Ruth making dinner.

Dinner is served. The picture looks a little empty without Chris!

Today will be a day of rest and relaxation. After driving every day for two weeks, Sherman needs a rest and so do we!

Yesterday's drive, 286 miles (457 kms).

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Tommy Hilfiger men's wallet...on sale dirt cheap, today only!


And in Canada, a good quality crock pot slow cooker...almost half price...





27 comments:

  1. I'm enjoying traveling right along with you all. Love the pictures of Juan, Ruth and Kevin at the dinner table...a glimpse of visiting real friends :-)

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    1. Thanks Rita! We are also happy to report that Chris was able to make it back to Mexico yesterday so it was nice to have us all together again. :-)

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  2. It's fun riding along with you folks! Now you can relax for a few days. Have a fun visit!

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    1. We are definitely enjoying our down time here and getting recharged for our next leg of the journey.

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  3. Yeah you made it! Enjoy Mexico and of course Juan and hopefully Chris.

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    1. Thanks Contessa! Chris made it yesterday and we were happy to see him.

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  4. Wow you definitely need a rest. That has to be pretty close to record time to zip through the US from Cananda to Mexico.

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    1. It was record time for us but not for a lot of people, we now people that have done it in less than a week! We won't do it that fast again, that is for sure, we really enjoy having a month or so to do it in but because of our flight out of Mexico City on Oct. 30th we needed to boogie down fairly quickly.

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  5. Really enjoying your blogs. You sound like fun folks out doing what we like to do too!

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    1. Thank you Patrice! Hope you enjoy our further adventures.

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  6. That was a good travel day for you, nice to sit back and relax for a while, enjoy !

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    1. Yes, it was and yes we are now happy to sit back and relax for the next few days before having to hit the road again.

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  7. Just my opinion...but...if you didn't want to follow the rules for the trucking toll highway...you shouldn't have used it. Breaking the rules/ law because you don't like how it works... is not o.k. (and makes you look like a jerk).

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    1. We have had issues with that toll road for many years. In the beginning they had a toll booth and then made it into a chipped electronic toll highway. Makes no sense for people coming out of Mexico (Mexicans) as there is nowhere for them to stop and get a chip and sticker. Ridiculous. It is obvious it is a way to fine people and make more money. Texas cops are always on the lookout for Mexican drivers and this just makes it much easier to stop you.

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    2. We made every effort to buy the ticket beforehand, it is not our fault that their phones aren't open on the weekends when we called, we even tried to find internet to call the morning we headed out to cross the border. I think that we probably made more of an effort than most people would have done. Our picture was taken on the toll road so they can send us the bill.

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  8. I have to say that that is a ridiculous way to run a toll road! Calling ahead of time to use a credit card and then being closed on the weekend? Come on! Someone needs their head examined! I truly dislike toll roads and avoid them if I can. We had a terrible experience with one in Oklahoma. Never again!

    MX is a different story, though. You have to weigh the cost with the hassle of not taking it like you did. Good figuring on your part.

    When we came across from Rocky Point into the U.S. a few years ago, they wanted to test out the X-way machine on our RV so we said "Sure!" Afterwards they came to us very puzzled and ask Steve if he would open one of the bins. They couldn't figure out what that snakey looking thing was. Ha! It was our sewer hose. We all got a good laugh!

    Enjoy our break and that wonderful country!

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    1. We totally right Grace. They really should make it that you can purchase the ticket through the internet rather than over the phone that way you can purchase the ticket anytime day or night. We are the same we avoid them as much as possible but it just didn't make sense to drive to Laredo and then from Laredo to the Colombia Bridge.

      Agreed Mexico is different and for the section of toll road we used to get around Monterrey it really did make sense even at the high price of the toll. Having said that we prefer the free roads more as there is so much more to see on them just like taking the backroads versus the Interstates in the States.

      Lol, that is funny. I guess when they see things that are unfamiliar to them they have to question it. ;-)

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    2. My only experience with a toll road in the U.S. is around Oklahoma City. First thing you know, you're on the toll road and have to pull over to pay. They only take coins. Boy, were we scrambling. Further down the road, it happened again. We paid and got off at the next exit. Sure learned never to use that road again! I still think that TX toll you experienced is the craziest thing ever!

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  9. Hey! Good job. Enjoy your time in MX. Say "hola" to Chris and Juan from us.
    Mark & Jean

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    1. Hi guys! We're having a great time!!!!

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    2. Thank Mark and Jean, we are having a great time here with Chris and Jaun and it is nice to sit back and relax for a few days.

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  10. Replies
    1. Yes it was, just the way we like them. :-)

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  11. Arrived safely. ..intrepid travelers - deep breaths and enjoy...I'm enjoying the journey

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    1. Yes, now we can sit back and relax for a couple of days before we have to hit the road again.

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  12. You've arrived! It was an interesting trip across the USA and I am looking forward to more exciting posts from MX.

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    1. Thanks Paul, I hope we won't disappoint you over the coming months! ;-)

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