So, we crossed the border at Nogales, Arizona and have travelled a few hundred miles without meeting any drugs gangs or baddies of any kind. As I said in my last post Mexico really does get such mixed reactions. The lady that ran the campsite we stayed on in Nogales advised us to “Get across the border and don’t stop for at least 300 miles” but the went on to tell us about her American girlfriend who has lived alone in Mexico for many years and been fine!
The crossing itself was pretty good. On the American side we were just waved through, which actually wasn’t what we wanted! We thought the US customs would stamp our passports on the way out, as we came in on an ESTA which allows us to come in and out several times over a 2 year period we expected a stamp for a complete audit trail. The 1st customs officer we stopped and spoke to could hardly look at us and really didn’t even want to bother with a complete sentence “Don’t do that here” was all we got. He then pointed to the guys dealing with the incomers from Mexico and told us to park up and speak to them. We had to walk a fair way to get there and it was obviously an area where pedestrians are not the norm as by the time we were close they both had their hands hovering over their gun holsters! Luckily they gave us a chance to ask our question and answered with a full sentence! Basically the 1st guy was right there is no record made on the US system of foreign nationals leaving if it’s via a land border. Seems really odd as they are so strict on having details of your onward travel plans on arrival and then they don’t check you actually leave!
On the Mexican side a helpful official who’s excellent English compensated for our non-existent Spanish walked us through the form filling and photo copying that is required. They have a neat sticker that is displayed on your vehicle windscreen to prove temporary importation and surrendered on exit from Mexico. I had read that the Banjercito’s (temporary importation officials) would come and look at the vehicle and place the sticker on the windscreen. Ours just handed it across the counter and told us to do it. Fine by us.
Mexican customs and Banjercito.
We drove for about 4 hours trying to decipher the Spanish road signs and realised we had a lot to learn and pretty quick!
There were armed soldiers patrolling the highway but they looked pretty relaxed!
There will be many cactus shots I warn you now!
Our first night was spent in a small seaside village called Bahia Kino. We knew there would be campsites here as it’s on the route that Americans and Canadians who spend their winters in Mexico (known as Snowbirds) use. We knew it was the wrong time of year for these guys to be there but expected the sites would be used by holidaying Mexicans, we were wrong! The first 3 sites we tried were deserted, the gates were open but there was no one around and on inspection there were no bathrooms available to use. The 4th site we tried was open, nice spot right on the beach and inhabited by a few residents who lived there in trailers all year. One guy who came to chat had moved there from Denver 10 years ago, the funny thing was he said he’d travelled all over Mexico but wouldn’t do it now, too dangerous! The site was a bit tired and in a poor area but fine for a 1 night stop.
It looks like we have lots of neighbours but in fact most of these RV’s were empty, their owners come back around October each year. Although it will work in our favour later in our travels this really is not the time to be in the lowland areas of Mexico it is so hot and humid. We sweat and scratch a lot (the mosquitos are vicious).
We’ve been a bit lax in keeping you informed of our future plans. Some of you probably still think we are driving down through Central America to get to South America and this was our plan until about a month ago. We had been hearing reports that RHD vehicles were being refused entry on some occasions into Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I had phoned and emailed all the embassies concerned before we left home and emailed again from Colorado but received no replies. I contacted a couple of people who had blogged about getting stuck and having to change route and neither had been able to get to Panama by road. We had to make a decision whether to rush through Mexico as had been the original plan in order to get through Central America, again pretty quickly and ship out of Panama before the end of November.
We decided there is so much we want to see in Mexico that we are going to have a slow meander through and ship out of Vera Cruz, Mexico direct to Cartagena, Colombia. For me the fact we won’t get to Costa Rica is disappointing but we can do that some other time.
But now we have another challenge! John contacted a shipper in Vera Cruz and sent them copies of the temporary import docs for Juanita. They have told us we should have got temporary import docs for the contents of the van as well. ? We were unsure whether this might mean retracing our steps to Nogales but today we have been given a bit of hope that we can get it organised at another Customs office. It’s not a done deal and we won’t know until next week but in the meantime we’ll just keeping travelling slowly (as we like it!).
Perhaps if the Banjercito official had inspected the van before giving us our sticker as I had read this wouldn’t have happened. Oh well, another lesson learnt!
I’ll finish with a few more pics and yes there are more cactus!xx