I forgot to mention yesterday, I think, that I drove about 630km’s.
Today’s drive: approx 930 KM’s. And 14 hours of driving. What a day.
I left my hotel in Weslaco just before 0700 this morning and proceeded to the border. Got there with no wait and drove up to the all knowing green light/ red light system of entry. For those that don’t know, if you get a green light you are free to drive into Mexico. If you get red, you must pull over for inspection by a nice guy with an M-16. I got green. yay!
I knew that I had to pull over somewhere and get my immigration permit and car permit. I was told the building was on my left and attempted to located it. Then I got waved over by a military man anyways. He did a quick check of the van, questioning of course the amount of baggage and then sent me off. I asked if I needed permits and he motioned no. I should have questioned that, but I have a couple of rules in life and one is “Don’t question the guy with the gun”.
So I drove on. I was looking for Highway 2 and expected it to be a couple of minutes. Then I saw the exit as I drove past. Um, Darn. So I kept going and found a place to U-Turn.
Let’s keep in mind that I am doing this in the middle of the Reynosa rush hour. Which is a lot like Calgary or other rush hours except that the people don’t pay attention to lanes and there are vehicles with people hanging all over them. And it’s in Spanish. And so are the signs.
So I do a U turn and get on Highway 2. My next instruction is to look for Highway 97; and that the turn off will say “Retorno” and that you will have to do a U-turn to get on the 97. Silly me, I thought that “Retorno” was a city name. So I drive for a minute and see a sign that says “Retorno”. I get all excited. U-Turn: check. No sign for Hwy 97 though. Well, I’d better take it. So I pull another U-Turn in Reynoso Rush Hour and start going the other way. Then I see another “Retorno” sign. Uh oh.
Now, I’m not a Spanish speaker by any means (more on that later). But I am prone to occasional moments of brightness. Here’s one:
RETORNO IS NOT A CITY, IT MEANS “U-TURN”.
Well that makes sense. So after another series of complicated maneouvers (I’m starting to drive like a local now.) I get back on Hwy 2 heading the right direction and I see the proper sign. Follow it and start to feel proud of myself.
Except for one nagging thought. My friend Dan in Tlaxiaco who gave me the directions made it very clear to mention to ensure I got the proper permits. This is also mentioned in EVERY piece of literature I had about driving into Mexico. I wondered if that was going to come back to haunt me (insert knowledge of foreshadowing here).
After getting out of Reynoso I am cruising along, figuring out how to pass on the highway and be passed. Now that’s a system that makes sense. If you’re slow, get over into the shoulder so people can pass. And Canadians think we’re all nice and courteous. And then I see an Immigration Checkpoint. “Hmmmm”, I think, “Perhaps I can get those nasty little permits here?”
How many people see what’s coming now? All of you? Good.
The first guy I talk to (after scraping the bottom of the van on a speed bump. By the end of the day, I will curse the term speed bump. Or whatever it is in Spanish. I can recognize it on a sign but not tell you right now). This guy speaks Spanish only. I mention that I don’t, so he gets someone else to talk to me.
“Where are your permits?” He asks
“The border guy said I didn’t need them.” I respond. Wondering how big of a pathetic, gringo look I have and if it will help.
“No sir. You need to go back to the border and get them.”
Yup. I drove all the way back to the border. About 20 minutes. Then got the permits, which was tough because no one spoke English there. Then got back on the road (not missing my turns this time. See, I can learn) and headed to the check point where I slowly hit the speed bumps and showed my papers. I got through this time.
I need to remove a lot as this post is getting long. So here’s a brief score card:
Military Checkpoints gone through and searched at: 2 (not including the border)
Bathrooms paid for: 1 (that guy got a screamin deal as he wanted 2 Pesos and I gave him 2 USD)
Meals eaten: Zero. Doritos, Coke, Mom Brown’s cookies, a cinnamon bun and water don’t count.
Hours driven: 14 : seriously, and I only stopped to pee, get gas or get searched. I was actually driving all that time. “Why?” you may ask.
Speed bumps: too many to count. And they are killers. You have to slow down. Imagine a foot high speed bump in the middle of the Deerfoot. Now that is speed control.
Speed limits: These rapidly change and usually you don’t know if they have. The signs are pretty good for them dropping to 40km/h. But you’re usually hard pressed to find the sign to take you back up to 80 or 90. Oh ya. Most of the time I was driving between 60 and 80 today. Real slow.
Bribes paid: 1 (150 pesos) That’s another good story. But not right now. I’m tired.
By the way Dan, if you’re reading this, your directions were fantastic. It was me following them that was a problem.
8 Replies to “Now that was a day!”
Forgot one thing here. THANKS to all of those praying for me today. I could tell. It was purely the strength of God and the peace of the Holy Spirit that allowed me to get through today.
Ok Ryan. So I (well, Stacy & I) have decided that you should continue with your mexico blogs, and then put them all together in a book. People would totally buy this stuff! It’s hilarious! You are a very good write and story teller! I can’t wait to see the unabridged version! 🙂 K that’s all. 🙂 Love and prayers!
Congratulations on getting through the border Ryan! How much further is it now? I agree, if you have the time, keep up the blogging; it is great. 🙂
Hopefully only 5-7 hours left. But we’ll see I guess.
Whew!! We kept watching for yesterday’s blog – thinking about and praying for you…Back to the first day – did the comment about hitting birds on the first day of a road trip have anything to do with a certain first day trip of long ago in a blue chev…?!
Funny, I hadn’t thought about that. I remember when it happened the first time to me and Michelle and mentioned it. but I haven’t thought about it since then. But I’m not kidding, I hit a bird at the start of almost every road trip. It’s weird, they either aim right at me or don’t bother to get out of the way.
I take it as a blessing upon the trip. A sacrifice if you will.
Whew!! We kept watching for yesterday’s blog – thinking about and praying for you…Back to the first day – did the comment about hitting birds on the first day of a road trip have anything to do with a certain first day trip of long ago in a blue chev…?! Anyhow, thanks for the entertainment!
Wow, Ryan. You are having quite the adventure. I’m sure Paul will wish he was traveling with you when he reads your Blog. I remember going over the speed bumps (or topes) well. I’m just glad I never had to drive in Mexico!
Stay safe and have fun. Love the Hursties