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Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 4 McAllen - Nautla (893 kilometers)

Yes, we are switching to metric, it is what everyone in Mexico uses so it is what I will use as well.  In fact, there are only 3 countries in the world where mertrication has not been put into effect.  Can you name them?
From West to East, the United States of America, Liberia, and Myanmar (Burma)

We set out early as we were hoping to travel quite far inland our first day and we did not want to get held up at the border or inland checkpoint.  Bright and early we crossed the International Bridge leaving the US into Mexico, my first time driving in another country.

We went into the station to check in and everything went smoothly except for the fact that for some reason I had forgotten my original title and only had copies with me.  For future reference, you must have an original title to bring a vehicle into another country.  Thankfully, they were all very friendly and accpeted my registration as a substitute otherwise I would have had to turn around there and wait for a very expensive one-day shippment from Fed-Ex.  

Our efforts to arrive very early to "beat the rush" were grossly unfounded.  There was no one there.  Looking at the log only one other foreigner had passed though the border before us (we arrived at about 7:30 as we got into a long conversation with a local Texan while we were having lunch, the border opens at 6).  
We did not complain though and after we got all our paperwork moved to the next station, about 50m away, to have our bikes and luggage "checked".  I midigated 'checked' because the military personal, 4 of the 6 being no more that 21 were much more interested in our bikes then what they were carrying.  Many questions about the size of the engine, how fast it could go, etc.  Paul and I were both pleased with how smoothly things were going and the crossing, which we had blocked out 1-2 or more hours for (one of the reasons we wanted to make sure to eat before attempting to cross), took only 30 minutes or so.  

The next potential issue would be the inland checkpoint where Paul had had a few more frustrating crossings in the past.  It was about 20km or so from the border and after Paul pulled out his passport they just waved us though, no questions or anything (no pictures as I did not want to give them a reason to hassle us and the caliber and quantity of weapons they were sporting was a bit discouraging as well).  We were pretty excited and looked forward to making quite a bit of headway.

What corn is to Texas and the Midwest is apparently what sorghum is to Northern Mexico. . .
And just like the trip though Texas there was not much to see or talk about.  The only thing of note was the lack of people and the amount of abondoned homes and buildings.  The cartels and the economic crisis have taken a visible toll on the area.  The majority of vehicles on the road were heavy equipment for the farms, tractor-trailers, and heavily armed police and military.  We were happy to have so much daylight to work with and clear roads to move quickly.

As we moved south the climate change was noticable, not so much by the temprature, but the change in the strength of the wind and the flora.

We pushed hard and made great time only once getting really slowed down in the traffic at Pozo Rica.  Even so it was getting dark quickly and we still had a little ways before we made it to Nautal.  The roads from Pozo Rica to Nautla were fantasic riding. 
Ver mapa más grande
The road above is a toll road and I think this is the first time in my life that I have felt like I had got my money's worth after taking a toll road.

Additional note:  We stopped at this little resaurant between Naranjos and Cerro Azul.  They made a smoothie like drink that had strawberry, banana, and cantelope in it.  I had never thought of putting cantelope into this type of beverage and can't wait to try it out when I get back home.  If anyone does try it out let me know how it worked for you.

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