Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A good day to drive to Mexico
It didn't start out that well when we locked ourselves out of the room when we took the dogs out for their morning walk, but that was soon fixed and then we headed to the Mariposa Gate to cross into Mexico. It's a rather strange experience, very different from crossing from Canada to the US, as it's done in several stages. First you go through a gate past uniformed men, then you drive a kilometer or so down a very official looking road...
to stop in a line up. If you go through the "nothing to declare" gate you will pass a stoplight that turns red or green. If you get the red, you have to stop and be searched, but if you get the green you just drive through. We got the green this time. Hooray! That means the two cases of California wine down at the bottom of the boxes and suitcases weren't a problem. (Probably they wouldn't have been anyway, but you never know.) It also means we weren't asked to show papers for the dogs or answer any questions.
Then you drive another 10 miles to come to the place where you apply for your visitors visas and negotiate to temporarily import your vehicle into Mexico. This was the third time for us so we knew what to expect. Even so it's confusing. You get your visa by simply filling in the form and then have to go to the banjercito (little bank) to pay for it. Then they send you back to get it stamped. When you get that done you go to another place to import the vehicle. This takes longer because after they input all your data you have to go to a different booth and pay to get copies made of all the documents. Then you go back and pay for that. And finally they give you the sticker for your car so you can pass through the final gate.
All of this took us about an hour and while we were there, who should we see but our Mexico travel buddies Ches and Allison who we met two years ago in Mexico and ran into again last year when we were here. We'll be hanging out with them for the next couple of days.
We drove from Nogales Mexico to San Carlos in about five hours. I spent most of the time trying to get some photos of the shrines by the side of the road, but without much success. These little crosses and wreaths and shrines appear about every mile or two along the road. They're very sweet (and sad, since they mark where someone was killed on the highway). But there are no shoulders on this section of the road so it just wasn't possible to stop and take pictures. I got this very elaborate shrine and will try to find some of the smaller ones as we travel along.
San Carlos is known as the place where the Sonoran Desert meets the Sea of Cortez. Lots of Americans here, which means it's an easy introduction to Mexico. This is our little motel with its pool, and the cost is $37 Canadian. Not too shabby for the first night.
We'll be here for a couple of days before heading down to Mazatlan as we and the dogs both need a little rest from driving.