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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July 6, 2006 — We got back to our Mexican home yesterday, Kelly, me, and and Moonlight, our six-year-old half-Siamese cat from Colorado.

I’ve never had to find accomodations for a cat before, in any country. In the US, Motel 6 accepts pets and we stayed in one in Deming, NM, one night. The next morning was taken up with crossing into Mexico, then waiting our turn and eventually getting our car permit for the 2003 VW Jetta we recently bought. It was after noon by the time we were done with formalities. We had veterinary papers for the cat, and his shots were current. It turned out that no border official noticed him or asked us anything much. Some Mexican friends who took a cat to the US for a year had essentially the same experience entering the US… their papers were checked, but not the cat’s!

Moonlight was in a spacious cat carrier in the back seat. The first day or two, we had a small litterbox in there, but he didn’t use it, so we stopped putting it in his crate, and he could stretch out better. He seemed fine with that arrangement. We offered him water from time to time as we traveled, but he always refused it. He did his eating, drinking, and pottying once we stopped for the night.

He didn’t exactly like the trip, but only part of the time did he seem frightened, often when there were noises around. Speaking of noise, I wondered if we would be listening to his very Siamesy voice for miles and miles, but mostly he was quiet in the car.

We were concerned about him being cool enough when we stopped for meals, but rarely could we find any shade to park in. Our car has numerous safety devices, and we were frustrated that we couldn’t lock it with the motor on and the air conditioning running. Generally, through New Mexico and northern Mexico, the weather was quite hot and dry. So we would take turns being out by the car with its windows open mostly.

In each place we stopped for the night, Moonlight’s method was to find the place he felt safest — under the bed or whatever — and use that as a home base. He slept on the bed curled up next to me most of the time each night.

I knew from other Americans who have traveled with pets in Mexico that you just never know which places will accept pets. It’s very rare for Mexicans to travel with them. Our first day in Mexico, we stopped a ways south of the big city of Chihuahua, capitol of the state of the same name. It was around seven in the evening, and we were tired. An okay-looking roadside hotel with a restaurant caught our eyes, and we stopped. I went in to the hot restaurant/office and asked, and the lady said no. She said that they had lots of perritos, or small dogs, who would chase the cat. I explained that the cat was in a crate and traveled with his own bathroom. He would not be running loose. She relented, and a very kind man with a speech impediment and awkward gait showed me a tiny room. (Never did figure out what was the matter with him, but he was a sweetheart.) Seven dogs followed us back from the car to the room. They were nice too.

The room was on the dismal side, but the mattress seemed okay and there was an air conditioner, which the man turned on. I wasn’t thrilled but driving on offered no guarantees. Kelly looked at the room too and we went ahead and took it.

Staying there turned out to be an experience of old Mexico — not the quaint Olde Mexico of the travel posters, but the Funky Mexico I experienced years ago. Once we got ourselves and Moonlight into the room, the cat immediately discovered an area under the bathroom sink which had a lot of dead bugs and other debris in it. He staked that out as his safe place until I smelled the insecticide odor, pulled him out, and blocked off the entrance with some of our luggage.

Other “old Mexico” features included the toilet shaking every time we sat on it, the shower not having hot water and not having any water in the morning after I flushed the toilet, the TV getting three scratchy channels, and the air conditioner sounding like a jet about to take off. We started off with the air conditioner on, which added a cool breeze over us to heat being radiated by the bed and the walls. Kelly turned it off in the night, and we slept pretty well till around four in the morning, when Moonlight began wandering around and meowing steadily. He settled down again about an hour later.

The next day, we were pretty tired and stopped earlier in the afternoon, in the small city of Rio Grande, north of Zacatecas. It took three tries before we found a motel that accepted Moonlight. The room was much nicer, for the same price ($30 US), and all three of us had a better night there.

Our last day on the road got us home around six in the evening. Introducing one cat to another was a challenge, but I must say I am very impressed with a product called Feliway, which made our trip much easier. It’s a spray bottle of artifical cat pheromones. You hardly have to use any of it to mellow out a cat. Used originally with cats not using their litter box, it really seemed to help Moonlight accept the vagaries of travel. We got it from a site called Catfaeries, but it’s widely available.

Comments from the old blog:

  • Chinle: Glad you are home and that it worked out OK with Moonlight. My cat Angelina sat on the back of my chair looking like she was reading this entry along with me. Maybe she wants to try a car trip to Mexico.

  • Me: Believe me, Chinle, she probably doesn’t! Moonlight was very good but it was clearly quite stressful for him. Now you and Bill and Sammy would be a different matter… (though how welcoming would Larry be to Sammy? seems like they’ve had some doggy skirmishes in the past.)

  • Anonymous said…  Next time stay at “love motels”. They don’t ask and they don’t tell-about cats or anything else.

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