Dec 27, 2019
This is it! Everything done, prepared as best we can, we are finally going to Mexico! It is funny we have been travelling for two and a half months and it is only now that I feel that our journey is beginning. All of our travel’s up to now have been preparation and practice. We went to Texas not really for travel but to change our domicile. Sure, we had some fun along the way but it was all with the goal of getting ready to GO. Travelling around the US was fun and interesting but at the same time familiar. We generally knew how things worked and what to do. Now finally today we were about as prepared as we could be and leaving the USA to go someplace with a different language, different laws and a different way of doing things, perhaps even someplace dangerous as pretty much everyone we met had warned us to be careful in Mexico. Personally I was not too worried about safety but then I have travelled a lot and been in situations such being stuck in Cambodia when they declared martial law and tanks were in the street.
After one last gas fill up at the nearby Costco we headed for the border crossing just outside of town at the Puente Internacional Azalduas crossing. Getting out of the US was easy, they just waved us past the booth and a short distance ahead we paid the toll to go over the international bridge into Mexico under the bright morning sunshine. To our left we saw getting into the US was not so easy with a long line of cars waiting before the US border checkpoint. We crossed over the Rio Grande and we were in Mexico!
We stopped at the Mexican border and our vehicle was waved right through customs without a second glance. We pulled into the border station, went inside to get our tourist visa’s for $25 each good for 180 days and a temporary import permit for Rover. The temporary import permit for our RV was good for 10 years so I am not sure how it would be considered “temporary”. As an added bonus we did not have to pay the expected $400 deposit for the permit although we still had to pay $45 permit fee. It was a good thing we kept our printer/scanner because we had to make copies of our tourist visas. I think you can pay to make the copies but we just went back to Rover to do it. All it all it took a little over an hour to get everything done and the staff at the border crossing were all very nice.
Done at the border crossing we continued straight onto the toll road to Monterrey. Driving through Mexico was really not much different from driving in the US and the roads were not as bad as I feared. It was all a bit run down but not too bad.
We go to Monterrey right around 12:30pm. Monterrey is the third largest city in Mexico with a population of over 4.5 million people. As we entered the city it was immediately obvious that we were in a large city with lots of confusing highways and heavy but fast going traffic. The drive into the city was quite stressful between being a larger vehicle, the unfamiliar roads and the heavy traffic so we pulled into the first shopping mall with outside parking that we could see. It was a small shopping centered anchored by a supermarket but it had a few other stores and a small food court.
For our first meal in Mexico I went to Mr. Fish for some fried fish while Holly got some gorditas from Dona Tota. The food was pretty much what you would expect from a small mall food court but at least our first stop wasn’t a McDonalds. Then we stopped by the Telcel store and got a SIM card and a 6 GB a month data phone plan for Holly’s phone for 600 pesos. After that we went to the supermarket and got some groceries before returning to the RV for a nap. I reflected that even if we were very rich we wouldn’t be able to just immediately take a nap outside a supermarket, we would need to return to our hotel which might be very nice but not as convenient.
We left the mall and went to a parking lot listed in iOverlander right in the middle of downtown next to Macroplaza the main park which had a number of museums and attractions nearby. However the parking lot attendant waved us off indicating we were too wide for their lot. We drove around a bit and found another parking lot which we were able to get into even though it was a tight fit. The parking lot attendant was a young lady and her kid brother. Using Google translate I was able to get across to them that we wanted to stay overnight for 24 hours and were willing to pay 200 pesos (about $10 at 19 pesos per dollar). She said OK but we would have to do it under the table and pretend we were not staying in the RV overnight. The parking lot closed at 7:00pm and she would leave the gate open a little so we could walk in and out although no vehicles would be able to get through. That worked for us so we parked and settled in.
After getting parked we left the parking lot and went to the nearby walking street. There were crowds of people and we definitely felt we were in the big city. The walking street was lined with stores, small shopping centers and restaurants. Buskers and costumed people tried to get tips. There were a couple of people in rather good Edward Scissorhands and the Mad Hatter costumes. We went into one of the mini malls for our first dinner in Mexico and ordered…. Two bowls of Ramen for 179 pesos and a three item Chinese food plate for 70 pesos. What can I say, Olivia wanted noodles and there really is no Mexican noodle option. I wanted some cooked vegetables and Mexican food is kind of lacking in that respect also.
After dinner we went to Macroplaza and admired the Christmas decorations and rode the free Merry go round before returning to Rover for the night.