X-Type: Email; Outmail
Subject: From Ed and Eidth Gray DEEP INTO MEXICO
PART II Headed deep into Mexico
We made the decision to tear down and pack up and head for Mexico and make it to San Carlos which is by Guymas! We filled up with drinking water at the Organ Pipe HQ, dumped our trash, used the bathrooms and headed for the border. At the border we again got the green passe light so slid right on through. The line up on a Sunday afternoon coming back in from spring break must of been a mile long, two lanes!!!. We headed south and immediately we were on a NARROW two lane road with all kinds of big trucks and everybody is going way over the speed limit. They pass you going up hills, they sit out in the passing lane and play chicken with on-coming trucks and at the last minute shoot in a little hole between vehicles. It reminds me when I was a kid on old two lane 16 by Phillip when there were huge lines behind campers or trucks and people would get CRAZY!!! A lot of them passing I would swear were just doing it for the excitement of it! The shoulders are none existent and even worse in many spots there was a straight 6 inch to 12 inch drop off into a deep ditch. You meet the on-coming vehicles or the big rigs passing with about 2 feet between you. A little error and you can figure you are probably dead.
At Kilometer mile 21 we hit custom and immigration. First at immigration he asks for our FMT and fortunately he speaks good English. He asked where we were going and commented that we got our FMT south of Douglas at Agua Perita which was a long ways away but did not make an issue of it. He said to move ahead to lane one of customs. BTW we soon found out you always go where the auto's go with a RV and not where the trucks go. Our first lesson of that was here where we were headed to truck lane one and he waved us to auto lane one. We got to the gate and again got the green passe light and we are in. The concern is if you get stopped there may be questions about importing things and the need to pay tariff. There are some nasty stories out there but generally speaking if you have an RV and NOTHING IN BOXES that appears to be new and not multiple numbers of an item you are OK. We have talked to lots of Rvers down here who have been over the border many times and they say customes don't give a RV Gringo much trouble!
We pass some military and police checkpoints but they were just checking vehicles going north. Other than the road being narrow and dangerous and the crazy people passing it was going pretty good although Edith's pucker factor was pretty high with the driving conditions. It is a long drive but we finally got to Mexico Hwy 15 the 4 lane south of Nogales and headed south to Hermosillo. Now for the big surprise. I expected an Interstate type highway, instead it was full of pot holes, still terrible shoulders with just an occasional place to kind of get off the road, no divider in the middle and not controlled access. Way, way below my expectations. We get to Hemosillo and the traffic really heats up even though it is Sunday afternoon. Edith freaks out as we are in the left lane of a two left turn lanes and a `18 wheeler pulls along side us and was two inches from our mirror. She just knew when he pulled ahead to turn he was going to hit us. A tried to tell her he would watch in his mirrors. I decide to let him go first so we both were not trying to turn at the same time. He honks his horn like it is my fault he is having trouble making the turn and the typical Mexican reaction from behind honking horns and Edith is freaked and I mean freaked! I managed to get get around the curve and some how I steered it correctly so the 5th wheel did not clip the car waiting at the light and missing the curb divider and not getting over into to other turn. The traffic is 4 to 5 lanes wide, the road winds this way and that, you have no idea which way you are going to have to turn so you don't know what lane to be in. We came to a Y in the road and there is a little and I mean little sign all bent up and about 9 feet of the ground, and you could only get a peak at it through the passing trucks so we manage to take the correct street.
I had the realization WELCOME TO DRIVING IN MEXICO! If you don't have many 1000's of miles under your belt DO NOT TAKE A RV TO MEXICO! It is bad enough with a car. The maps are very poor and thanks to Patrick we did have the best there is. ONE VERY PLEASANT surprise my GPS Street Pilot has the main roads on in Mexico so I have my direction and the road; although often the mapping is old and the road has changed that has still been a tremendous help. Later I will tell you how much of a help it really was. We get through Hermosillo and it is time to get diesel. The good news is there are lots of Pemex stations and they almost all have diesel and they have good access right along the road. They are government owned as far as I know. Anyway that is all there is! We pull in for diesel and I go to pay with my credit card and again WELCOME to Mexico. IT IS CASH ONLY AND I DON'T HAVE PESO'S YET! DARN I should of got some at the bank in Douglas, could not get any in Rocky Point as it was the week end. They took dollars but the exchange rate was not as good as I would of liked and it was expensive, about $2.00 a gallon. I immediately realized I should of brought more cash but still figured we were OK. As we head south we pick up a toll road and again welcome to Mexico. My Internet research was based on car tolls or Class C or Class A. It seems a 5th wheel is the same as a huge truck. It is based on axles/sets of tires so I had to pay for 4 axles. So instead of 25 pesos it was a 100 pesos or 4 tunes as much as I expected. $1 dollar equals about 9 peso's or slightly less. Now I know money is going to be tight as of course toll roads takes only cash. They will convert dollars and take their cut. BTW it is full service at Pemex and no English or just a very little bit once in awhile.
At this point REALITY really sits in and you really feel the need to be able to speak more Spanish! I tell you what the few weeks we worked on our Spanish is worth there weight in gold but it still was like spitting in the wind!!!
Ed and Edith
[MID: 1310_W0SD Sent Via: WB5KSD Date: 2002/03/22 03:37:34]