Free!

11 Nov

What a great day!  We woke up at the crack of dawn and hit the road.  The kitties were wiping the sleep from their eyes as we packed them across the border.  Crossing the Rio Grande (smaller than you would think) and getting our paperwork was a little more complicated than expected.  There was little or no direction and all signs were in Spanish.  After fumbling through a conversation with a border agent that didn’t speak english we were on track again.  It took about an hour to get our tourist papers, our car permit and post the bond needed for importing a foreign car.  Once that was over we had to drive through the screening area and we were asked only a couple of questions (while starting down the barrel of a tripod mounted assault rifle on the back of an armoured personnel carrier) before being waved through.  Once in the border town of Matamoros, we snaked our way through the crazy unmarked streets (most don’t show up on GPS either) and found our way to the highway.  The country side was filled with corn crops as far as you could see.  Soon that gave way to ranches and livestock, followed by rolling hills and mountains covered in jungle so thick you could not tell one plant from another.  We had to drive through the mountains to get to Tampico along the Gulf of Mexico.  That was an adventure!  Back when we first crossed the border our GPS said we had 450-ish km to go but it was calculating 7.5 hours of travel time, we soon found out why.  The 4 lane highways with 110 kph speed limits would suddenly narrow and cut speed limits to 40 kph as we passed through endless rural Mexican towns.  Every town could have been a great place to stop and explore, each with all sorts of old world flavor mixed with new world commerce.  We had a deadline so we pushed through.  We were only pulled over and questioned at one military check point (there were a few) and had no problems.  I had to clean my shorts after cresting one hill at 125 kph and finding myself staring at a whole platoon blocking the road with anti-armor cannons pointing at the peak.  Just got waved through that one, phew!  While in the mountains, the freshly paved four lane highway suddenly stopped dead in a giant construction zone.  The detour was an off-roading dream!  After working the Golf like a rock crawler we found pavement with no damage to the car.  We stopped for diesel out side the city of Tampico, then hit rush hour like we have never seen.  Were there 2 lanes?  Were there 6 lanes?   Either way it didn’t seem to matter, with the max amount being dictated by the width of the cars that were side by side.  When we pulled into our hotel we had beat the GPS estimate and arrived 2.5 hours sooner than expected.  It is a beautiful place and is very secure.  We unpacked, hit the pool, had some dinner and walked to the corner store for a six-pack of Corona (less than $5).  Tomorrow we will make Veracruz our destination,  who knows what kind of trip that will be!

P.S.  A lot fewer people here know English than you might think, good thing we have listened to spanish lessons all the way down.

Otro día, otra aventura le espera!

Mountains in the jungle.

The small but heavily fortified Rio Grande.

Off road in the Golf!

 

View from our hotel room.

 

Out for Dinner

 

From ranch land to mountain ranges, the scenery keeps changing.

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