Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Hiking in Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Back in the USA!

Monday March 30…11:30pm

What a day!

We left Allende at about 8am, and headed towards the border at Reynosa. Leaving Allende, we had to go north towards a toll road that would take us away from the outskirts of Monterrey. As is usual in Mexico, there is a choice between the toll road or the free road in the same basic direction.
The toll roads are expensive in Mexico, but sometimes worth it due to the condition of the free road. We had been told that the free road wasn’t bad, so opted for that. We made our way to the free raod with no problems using Chris’s directions from yesterday. The road was fairly busy and slow moving, and we were following a tractor trailer. He put the brakes on, and we slowed as well. He started pulling over to the shoulder and then we saw a policeman who waved us over as well. So we pulled over. The cop came over and I opened the window and shook his hand good morning. He proceeded to tell me that this was a 40 kmh zone, and that I was doing 60 kmh. There would be a ticket and he asked for my drivers license.

One of the things we learned in Mexico is that you NEVER hand over your real drivers license to a local traffic cop. The military will never ask for it, and the Federal Policia are usually more interested in your passport. But the little local guys are the ones who usually will try and get cash out of you. If you hand over your real license, they will keep it until you pay. This guy realized that we had given him a copy, and I refused to hand over the real one. Besides, we had done nothing wrong. I don’t know for sure that we were going 40 kmh, but it couldn’t have been much more. They had let the truck in front of us go, as they saw a more lucrative opportunity in getting some cash out of us tourists.

We argued for about 10 minutes with me saying I was going 40, not 60. The cops couldn’t even get their radar gun to show me the speed I was going. It was a joke, and I refused to pay. They ended up calling their superior and a few minutes later another guy showed up. This guy spoke a little English, and I explained my side of the story. He says “Have you got any money?”…I say “Of course, everybody travelling has some money”. He says “How much?”….I say “It doesn’t matter, because I didn’t do anything wrong”... Even the superior was trying to milk us for some cash!

I stood my ground, and eventually they gave up. The superior finally gave me back our copied drivers license, and told me to drive carefully. I shook hands with them all, told them to have a good day. We all left smiling! I think they ended up liking the fact that I refused to fall for their tactics.

So, onward to Reynosa, which turned out to be bigger and busier than we had figured. But, we made it around the outskirts of the city, and got onto the toll road leading to the bridge at Progresso. We were about 10 kms (6 miles) from the border when we heard a loud bang from the back end, and I looked in the rearview mirror in time to see a piece of our right rear inner tire flying down the road behind us. We pulled over and had a look. The tire was still holding air, but a big section of the centre tread was gone, with just some steel belts showing. It was the same thing that happened to another tire back in Merida just before Christmas. These 4 rear tires were all the same brand, and the 3 remaining ones have about 50,000 kms (30,000 miles) on them. Now, there are only 2 left and I think I‘m going to replace them all. We could still drive on it, but kept our speed at 50 kmh (30 mph) for the remaining couple of miles.

Last year, we used the truck crossing a few miles north of Laredo, and it was a breeze. The Progresso crossing at 2pm in the afternoon was a zoo! It took us about an hour of waiting in line, and then got into the Mexican tourist visa place and payed our 262 pesos ($23.32 CAN) fee. Then, across the bridge and to the US border. They pulled us over and did a quick inspection of the rig. They confiscated our eggs and potatoes, and sent us on our way into Texas.

Drove about 260 kms (161 miles) and the whole ordeal took about 6 hours!

We stopped at the nearest Walmart and stocked up on quite a few groceries. Then, drove a couple of miles further to the Llano Grande RV Resort, ($25.20 US, $31.50 CAN per night) in Mercedes, Texas, where our friends Bill and Bonnie from Michigan were expecting us. We had met Bill and Bonnie on the coast south of Cancun, and again at Palenque where we had spent a couple of days travelling with them. This RV “resort” is not really our type of place…it’s a “55 and over” community of mostly seasonal people. They allowed us to stay because Bill and Bonnie were already here and it’s the end of the season anyhow. We’ve decided to stay 2 or 3 days in order to take advantage of all the ammenities including very fast internet, laundry, swimming pool, and of course get our tire problem looked after.

Sat up talking to Bill and Bonnie this evening, and had dinner and drinks with them.

Total nights sleeping in a motorhome…520

March Fuel $419.20 CAN

March Grocery $393.32 CAN

March Overnight costs $203.29 CAN

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