A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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The left turn we were looking for had disappeared in the construction process. We kept on our road, then turned back to see if we could find our turn from the other direction. After this small taste of traffic, we wanted to avoid heading into the center of the city. As we made a U-turn, the bottom of the motorhome scraped on the steep, uneven edge of the road. I began to think the whole idea of bringing a motorhome to Mexico was a mistake. But then we did see a sign for the road we wanted, and soon we were on a two-lane road heading south. Mexican towns and cities become countryside much more abruptly than ours do.

I caught my breath – had I breathed at all during our minutes on the outskirts of Reynosa? – and watched in amazement as vehicles passed us when they couldn’t see ahead. It would take me several days, and a few heart-stopping moments, to understand that few if any of them were taking serious risks. Because Mexicans interact more fully with each other as they drive, the people driving the slower vehicles were generally ready to drop back quickly and let the passers back into the lane, and oncoming traffic was prepared to slow down quickly. Driving in Mexico was different.

Also, many highways have shoulders that are about half a lane wide. The custom on these roads is for the slower vehicles to drive half on the shoulder and half in the main lane, straddling the painted line. If both sides of a highway have wide shoulders, then it is effectively a three-lane highway and lots of passing can safely go on. Mexico has been upgrading its major highways for many years now, but the Gulf region is not an area where we would see the best roads.

We were impressed with the number of buses we saw, from pokey former school buses to sleek intercity luxury buses. You can go anywhere in Mexico by bus, and they are strong competition for the relatively undeveloped intercity air transportation. We had taken buses on other trips, but this time we wanted the spontaneity of going where the impulse would take us. For that, a motorhome was the better choice.

There was a lot of trash along the highway… a lot. I remembered it from past visits. It’s just one of those things – sanitation facilities are not as highly developed in Mexico as they are in the U.S., and even if they were, poor people might not be willing to spend the money. We did see a number of towns and cities where an effort was being made to keep things clean, but many times we passed a sign by the highway that said something like, “Don’t leave garbage here” – with garbage piled high around the sign!

Our first stop was the capital of the state of Tamaulipas, Ciudad Victoria, where our camping guidebook said there was a trailer park. We found it easily; it was a pleasure to stop moving. Some interesting surprises awaited us that evening.

[Next: Ciudad Victoria, capital city of Tamaulipas, Mexico]

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