Our group, stopped at the Devil's Backbone viewpoint, Durango, Mexico.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Near Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Where are they going next? Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Fantastic first day in Mexico

We were on the road at 7:00am just as the sun was coming up. We won't always start that early on driving days, but we always plan to be at our destination by 2:00pm at the latest. That gives us lots of daylight hours to fix any problems that might arise along the way.

And, we did have a bit of a long drive ahead of us, as well as crossing the border. And you never know how long it will take to cross a border. Yesterday's border crossing turned out to be very interesting!

(Last night, I deleted all of my photos by mistake. I feel like an idiot, and there were so many great photos to show you. Sorry. I borrowed some photos from the rest of the group! Thanks to them for sharing!)

We had over an hour and a half drive from Alpine, Texas to the border crossing between Presidio, Texas and Ojinaga, Chihuahua.

RV'ers don't use this crossing. For some reason, most of the RV'ing crowd seem to think that they need to stick to the toll roads in Mexico. We've proven time and again that this is not the case and that the best scenery is usually away from the toll roads.

So when eight RV's came rolling into the parking area on the Mexican side of the border, it was a sight they have probably never seen before.

When you cross in an RV, you need to get tourist permits for the people, and vehicle permits for the RV's. But some of us had our vehicle permits from last year (RV permits are valid for ten years) and others had done the process online. So we already had all of our vehicle permits but we still needed tourist permits.

You never quite know how things are going to work because every border crossing does things a little differently. This time, a guy wearing the proper INM (Mexico immigration) uniform came out and requested all of our passports. Then he asked us to follow him inside.

The immigration guy collecting our passports.

Waiting to process the paperwork.

While we all waited off to the side, the INM guy and a co-worker sat at a desk and they filled out all of our cards based on our passport info. They asked me to come up to the desk, and then each person had to come up individually to sign their forms.

Any other time we have done this we have filled out the forms ourselves, then taken them to the banjercito (payment desk) where we could use a credit card to make payment. The cost is currently 558 pesos ($38.30 CAD, $28.95 USD).

So I'm sitting at the desk with these two guys and one of them is inputting info from each tourist permit into a computer and the other is stamping the cards. I asked if I was supposed to go over to the banjercito (in the same building) so I could use a credit card to pay for the permits. He says with a smile "no, you can't pay by credit card, it has to be cash and you have to pay me here and right now".

I asked how much, and he says "500 pesos each".

Pretty sure that our payment for the tourist cards was not going directly to the government!

He then asked if we would be exiting the country at Ojinaga. I said no, that we would be exiting at Laredo. Now normally, you are supposed to hand in your tourist card when you exit the country. But he specifically told us not to.

I went and collected the 500 pesos per person from the group and handed the INM guy 7,000 pesos. He handed me the passports, each one with an official stamped tourist card. We shook hands and it was a done deal!

Back at the RV's, another inspector wanted to see each of our vehicle permits. With that done, we were on our way.

Heading into Mexico.

The town of Ojinaga is actually quite nice. We had no problems making our way through town and onto the free road through the mountains towards the city of Chihuahua.

The view from Jim's rig.

Just a rural country two lane road with no shoulder. A few small farms and the odd pickup truck hauling a bale of hay somewhere. No traffic to speak of. So glad that we choose the roads less traveled.

Scenery along the way.

Along the free road, there is a protected natural area called Cañón y Sierra del Pegüis. I had read of an overlook there with enough room to park all the rigs. We took a break there for half an hour and enjoyed the view.

Roy, enjoying the view.

Wow. I can't believe nobody ever sees this!

Wow again. That's a long way down.

We stopped for lunch along the way, and realized that we had crossed a time zone. We now had an extra hour!

Almost everybody we saw waved and smiled at us.

Chihuahua is a modern city of about 800,000 people. Ruth and I were here in April 2013 and we really enjoyed the city.

There are no RV Parks in Chihuahua. Which makes sense, because no RVers ever come here! However, I had read on iOverlander that there is a big city park by the baseball stadium where they have overnight security.

Being a Sunday, traffic was relatively light and we had no problem making our way to our destination. We arrived just before 2:00pm. But also being a Sunday... there was a baseball game on and the parking lot was quite busy! We found a spot to park temporarily and went to check with the security to make sure we were okay to stay. They said it was fine, but we needed to wait until about 5:00pm for the parking lot to clear out and then we could park the RVs in a better location.

There is a big Soriana grocery store 2 kms away so some of the group walked over and did some stocking up and took Uber back to the park. We managed a bit of a late happy hour, but it sure seems like everybody is happy!

Today, we will go to el centro (the historical downtown) and explore.

Yesterday's drive 372 kms (232 miles).

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30 comments:

  1. Awesome first day! We are thankful to be tagging along with you in our armchair!

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    1. Yes, it certainly was, everyone totally enjoyed their first day in Mexico and the scenery along the way was stunning. :-)

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    2. Welcome to my Beautiful Chihuahua 😊

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    3. Gracias! Thank you for the welcome. We love Chihuahua, it really is a beautiful state. :-)

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  2. Big golf tournament this past weekend in Playa del Carman including 8 Mexicans!

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    1. I hope that the Mexicans did well up against some of the others in the tournament.

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  3. Wow, FMMs for just US$26 each sounds like a bargain to me!

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    1. Yep, we were happy about that too! Guess we go the group rate, lol. :-)

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  4. Since we are stuck in Medicine Hat this winter we will definitely your trip via the email. Enjoy your travels and safe journey.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry that you have to be stuck at home this winter. We will do our best to help make your stay at home a good one with our posts about our adventures.

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  5. I meant to ask if you were headed to Copper Canyon? Looks like you'll be very close.

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    1. Oh yes, we are definitely headed to Copper Canyon. We will be there in a few days time but there will be a stop before that. :-)

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  6. A successful first day of what is sure to be the best trip ever!

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    1. Yes, it was a very successful trip. Everyone was happy to get that first driving day under their belt and we all enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way.

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  7. Rather easy border crossing it seems. Beautiful view from that canyon.

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    1. Yep, it was a very easy crossing. One hour total from the time we pulled in to the time we pulled out and back on the road. Not bad for 8 rigs. It really made a difference that we all had our vehicle permits ahead of time.

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  8. Your blog is so interesting for us armchair travelers. There are quite a few good photos of these areas on Google Earth. After crossing the border you traveled through some very remote areas! Good travels, Diane

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    1. We are glad that you are enjoying our blog and that we can bring our adventures right to your armchair at home.

      Yes, we did travel through some remote areas but only because there aren't a lot of towns or villages along the route. The mountain scenery was beautiful to look at and everyone enjoyed the drive.

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  9. You would think there would be an "undo" for when you accidentally delete pictures.

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    1. There is something similar if you happen to make that mistake on your computer because once it is deleted it goes to your trash, until you actually empty your trash there is still the chance to retrieve it but unfortunately that does not happen when the pictures are on the SD card in the camera. It does come up giving you a warning "are you sure you want to delete" and Kevin hit yes, thinking that he had already copied the pictures to the computer. It was just a stupid mistake! :-(

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  10. How strange that he only charged you $500 MX each. Hope the money didn't go into his pocket! Gorgeous scenery...I am envious!

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    1. We are 99% positive that that is exactly where it went. And maybe some of the others involved also get a share of it.

      The scenery was so beautiful on our drive and we will be seeing a lot more of that today. :-)

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  11. By asking where you were going to exit, he was keeping the money. Chihuahua is a beautiful city and has lots to offer. It used to have an rv park on the outskirts in Fresnillo which has full hookups and 30 amp service. Great pictures.

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    1. That's what we have figured and a few others at the border crossing there would get their share of it too.

      Everyone in the group loved Chihuahua and found everyone we encountered here to be so friendly and welcoming. Too bad they don't have more foreign tourists coming through.

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  12. If you haven’t started using that memory card again, you can almost always get the deleted photos back with a basic utility tool. All that happens when the card is deleted/formatted is the file allocation (I.e. memory map) is wiped out. The image files are still there if they physical address hasn’t already been over-written. It’s pretty easy to do. I think SanDisk has a tool (used to, anyway). Even if you’ve started using the card, any images which haven’t been corrupted by a new image file will be recoverable.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Unfortunately it is probably too late to try to retrieve our photos. First off we didn't have a tool to do it and secondly we have been without internet for the last few days so many more photos have been put on the card and then transferred over to the computer since then. We think at this point they are just totally gone. :-(

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  13. What tools do you guys use for pre-departure route planning and en-route navigation?

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    1. We know Mexico pretty well so most of the pre-departure planning was done just from our knowledge of traveling in Mexico. For en-route navigation we use our Garmin GPS unit which Kevin inputs the GPS coordinates into, along with way-points so that we are the ones programming the GPS, and not letting the GPS pick the route. Along with that we also use Google maps/street view to view the roads that we will be traveling on to give us an indication of the quality of the road surface which of course can constantly change from one year to the next.

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  14. Great first day! That canyon reminded me of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado. Looking forward to following you along the parts of Mexico I haven’t seen. Safe travels!

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    1. It was a great first day! We loved stopping and viewing that canyon, it was so beautiful.

      We hope that you will enjoy following along with us, even with the places that you have visited before because we will pick out different things to see and do at some of those places as well as seeing new places.

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