Everything’s different in Mexico. Everything.
Although some things may look similar, they are not quite the same.
It’s almost like all of your standards, all that you think is normal, all that you know and are accustomed to, all that escapes through that rolled down window as you approach the booth, in line at the Mexican border.
Everything’s different in Mexico.
It came as less of a shock to us this time, having been through it before in 2007, but the fact that we are basically going to be living in latin America for a while makes it interesting and scary as well…
As we pull up to the dual-booth border station lane, heavily armed with I.Ds., passports and even Minnie’s health certificate, we are confident we have the situation under control. Until we realize we forgot to get car insurance for No4! Car insurance is mandatory in Mexico and your regular insurance will not cover you down here so you NEED to get a separate car insurance.
Or risk going to Mexican prison if you crash.
One full month stopped in Arizona to prepare for this moment, and we forget the basic of basics.
Too late now, we are in the lane.
As our foreheads sweat, and not just from the heat, we notice neither booth is manned. I pull up a little more and the automatic gate lifts up…
What am I supposed to do now??? Get in gear and just leave?
Nobody seems to be paying any attention to us at all. This is a two lane crossing and there’s nobody else in the other lane while a car pulls up behind us.
What am I supposed to do?
I slowly crawl No4 to the gate and stare at a rather short man who could look like an officer if he wouldn’t be wearing jeans and a T-shirt, hoping for some reaction on somebody’s part. Finally, a tall young lady, she has to be at least six foot two, waves for me to park behind this car, near the curb, exactly where there’s no room for the truck! I do as I am told but No4s ends up diagonally parked with it’s tail end barely clearing the automatic gate coming down. The tall lady comes to my window and asks to see what’s in the back of the truck.
At least I think that’s what she wants.
As I open the back doors, she quickly peeks inside then moves on to Frances side and points at the roof top box with interrogations in her eyes.
That box is full of crap to the lid. God I hope she doesn’t ask me to empty it here on the sidewalk.
M: “Equipaje de acampar”
Those will be my first spanish words this trip.
She nods… and waves us to leave: ”OK.”
Tall lady: “OK!”
M: [for myself] What am I supposed to do now?
Tall lady waves us to go.
M: “No escribe mas papel???”
She mimmicks papers being stamped as she almost forgot about it.
Tall lady: “Immigracion.”
The immigracion office building is just two doors down but, since I’m parked like an idiot, I decide to move the car closer. I back up really, really carefully so as not to hit the gate or anybody or anything as I do.
Success! I get in front of the immigracion building but guess what? There’s no place to park. A quick decision is made for me to double park and France to walk inside with both our passports. About three short minutes later, she walks back out of the building and into the car.
M:”So, how did it go? Did you get our passports stamped? Guess they didn’t ask too many questions..”
F: “He asked, well no, he actually said we were going shopping, so I said yes. And he said “OK good” and handed me the passports back, unstamped.”
M: “What? That’s it?”
F: “Yep, that’s it.”
M: “And we’re good to go now?”
F: “That’s what it sounded like, yes…”
And with that, we are back in Baja! Our hearts are lights and our arm pits are wet. All stress aside, it’s good to be back.
We decide to skip the “highways” for a bit and tour the small towns as we move towards San Felipe.
Mexico is a land of contrasts.
You can’t drink the water in Mexico but yet Mexico has some of the most technically advanced geothermal power plants…
Many people live in cardboard shacks here but yet Mexico was amongst the first countries to offer lazer operation to solve eye problems.
Baja is home to the third most powerful telescope in the world but most of the peninsula lacks a garbage collection system…
Everything’s different in Mexico.
Everything’s street legal in Mexico.
Times flies and we begin to realize we may not be able to get to San Felipe before dark. And I don’t think I want to drive at night, with no insurance ! When we get to highway 5 we finally start making better time.
Finding a decent spot for the night, where we can be somewhat at cover from direct sight of people driving the highway is a bit complicated in this area but we pull into and old gravel pit and feel it is safe to spend the night there.
We’ve gladly accepted their invitation and so we’ll spend the next few days just north of town at our friends Jim & Caren’s place.
We are introduced to Sharon and Linda, friends of Jim and Carens who are both very very interested and excited about our trip. They extend an invitation to the four of us to for dinner. An avid hunter from Washington state, Sharon treats us to Canadian moose tacos! It doesn’t get much more international then this. Moose tacos in mexico; only in Baja!
An excellent meal and a great time was had by all. Some survived it better than others though…
The next morning Jim and I spend riding ATVs in the desert thanks to Sharon lending us one of her machines.
Wonderful scenery and great company, we even have shade! This is awesome.
Warm thank yous extended to our hosts for their hospitality. Much appreciated. We realize how fortunate we are to know you guys. Thanks.
To be continued…