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!


Visit Expedia…

Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Dec. 20, 2004 — It only took us an hour to get through the border at Matamoros, south of Brownsville, TX, the other day, and much of that time we pretty much knew what we were doing. Life in Mexico is more chaotic than in the US, and often that’s one of the things I love about it. Still, we’d had to give our Spanish some work to even find the right building. Were we in a truck with cargo, a truck without cargo, or an auto? Kelly, who was driving, decided our motorhome was an auto and that did get us into the right building.

When it comes to officialdom, it’s nice to have your ducks in a row. As we were standing in our third (and final) line of the morning, some other Americans came in and asked us where to go. The only sign in English was for someone selling Mexican car insurance. A Mexican man had kindly pointed us in the right direction, and I was able to do the same with the other Americans. “You get your tourist card there it’s free but you have to go to a bank soon and pay about $20 for it, then whoever is going to be driving your car goes over there to get some photocopies, then you come to this line we’re in to have a large deposit put on a credit card and get a sticker for your windshield.”

I couldn’t help but wonder how many Americans didn’t even realize that they needed to stop… OR once stopped, didn’t have a clue what to do. The English of the officials was minimal.

So in a nutshell, here’s what we did before they turned us loose on the streets of Matamoros (another example of chaos, with an intrinsic order of some sort). We each had to present our passport and fill out a form that become our FMT, or tourist card. The official who gave us the forms decided we were taking too long to fill them out and told me to give him mine. As a result, I have no idea what my occupation is… likely housewife, but I couldn’t read his scribble. We are supposed to have our FMTs with us pretty much all the time, and we will get some photocopies made soon for backups. We easily got 180 days, the maximum.

Next, since Kelly is the main driver of the motorhome, at another counter he had copies made of his Colorado driver’s license, his FMT, and our vehicle registration. They may have copied the copy we brought of our vehicle title too. The young man with a thick accent asked for a propina, or tip, so we gave him a dollar. I think other times we have been told there was a copying fee. We could have bought Mexican car insurance here, from a man who did speak English, but we had done that already on the internet, from a company called Lewis and Lewis. I don’t have the url, but you can google it.

Last in this office, we stood in line for quite a while before giving the copies and a credit card to someone else. She typed up a very official-looking document that we are to surrender when we return the car to the US, which also must be in 180 days or less. All went well till we got stuck by the question of whether we had a remolque. I recognized the word as something to do with vehicles. Was it brakes? No, I decided it wouldn’t be, as I’d never heard of brakes being required for entering Mexico. Another young woman in the office had overheard this question and non-answer, and explained to us, “try-lar” — ah, no, we didn’t have a trailer. Kelly signed 3 copies of a credit card receipt for $300+ deposit for taking our vehicle into Mexico. I don’t know if they will charge us — I think they just hold it till we take the motorhome out. Mexico is not interested in people bringing cars into Mexico to sell, clearly.

We went and paid our tourist card fee at a bank next door, figured out where to put the sticker on the windshield, and off we went!

But not quite. Some miles down the road there was a checkpoint where an official wanted to see our car permit, stuck his nose in the back door of the motorhome, and that was that.

Whew. But more than one confused American has been turned back at the checkpoint and told to go get their papers, which would not be fun. Though at least a second time around, we wouldn’t have made the wrong turn and gone through that interesting little neighborhood…

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