Day 4 (Friday, July 21)
|Ahh the border. Ahh the paperwork
first. The first order of business was tracking down some Mexican insurance.
We went to the local Chamber of Commerce, had a decent cup of coffee, and
were shown where Sanborn's had moved to. Of course, we had to wait 20 minutes
for it to open, but we were getting used to that. The
frustrating thing was that when it did open, the girl working there was
no help at all - didn't know anything about the route, wouldn't give us
theft insurance (even though I had obtained a quote from Sanborn's listing
theft insurance) because the truck was more than 10 yeard old - like that'll
stop someone from ripping it off, and made poor Wayne buy their roadguides,
even though they advertise them as being 'free with insurance'!! We took
care of that in a huff, gassed up, and changed some money at the local
Albertson's, and headed south. After a wrong turn (we went to the wrong
crossing point), we were waved through the US side and entered bureacratic
"Take everthing out of your truck." Everything? That sucker was packed to the gills!! After filling out forms and getting stamps, we had to go through customs. Outside again, in the blazing sun, we took everything out and put it on these long benches. We sure didn't look like we were really doing the tourist thing (we had been warned very explicitly not to say we were just driving through (transmigrantes), as that designation would entail extra waiting and fees. So there we were with a TV, VCR, 2 computers, boxes of toys, hangers, curtains, pans, and all sorts of things that a normal tourist doesn't really need. I explained that we were meeting my family in Mexico City, who were flying down, and thus had to have 2 boxes of toys!!
The guards didn't seem to have much sympathy, though. We were there for 3 hours in the baking sun, and eventually got charged duty of $113 for the new computer I had (never mind that it was originally made in Mexico, a point I tried in vain to make). We got out and wound through the crowded, dusty streets of Matamoros, and started out on the highway. At the second border crossing, we actually drew the red light (meaning that we would have to undergo a complete customs inspection again!!), but our signed and stamped receipt seemed to convince those guards of the silliness of their request.
We traveled on, at the mercy of the potholes and buses vying for supremecy on the road. Our lunch consisted of a roadside roast chicken and a couple of Pepsi's, a marvelous pitstop on a dusty day. We took a bypass towards Tampico, bypassing Ciudad Victoria completely, that led us through completely deserted scrub brush land. We found our first night's lodging at 24 hour eatery along a stretch of highway just past Tampico, where we met up with an Australian guy on a bike who said he had "only $65 to make it all the way to Canada." We ate dinner with a mother, son, and duaghter returning to Veracruz from a tennis tournament in Monterrey. She was nice enough to give us her number and address, in case we needed some help along the way. After a few Coronas and some talk about life on the road, we retired for the evening.