Driving to Mexico       

August/September 2001


We intended to spend about three or four weeks in Mexico. We had decided to start an import business and bring back some of the beautiful things offered by Mexican craftsmen. First we would go to San Miguel de Allende, where we had pre-rented a nice casita for two weeks through some people I had rented from before. Then we planned to go to the Guadalajara area.

August 31 - Headed for the border at Laredo from Houston, we had heavy rain almost from the time we left home. Just before Goliad, we had to detour off 59 onto 239 because the road was flooded. Even that road had places of high water that were almost impassable. Many of the ditches along the road looked like a gushing river. Water flooded far into the adjacent fields.

We arrived Laredo at 3:30. The border check-in is often quite crowded on week ends, but today, on a Friday, it is practically deserted. We quickly got our necessary papers and car permit and bought the necessary automobile insurance.

We had some difficulty finding the toll road to Monterrey but were headed that way by 5:30.

At the border we met a Mexican, Lucas, who lives in San Antonio and has a trucking business. He told us about a good place to eat along the way, the Ranch Restaurant. We stopped there to eat. Lucas came in just after we arrived and we invited him to sit with us. He insisted on buying our dinner. What sweet people we meet in Mexico!

On our way again toward Monterrey at 7:20, where we will spend the night, we have about 60 miles to go.  We still see fields of cactus, but now the land is hilly, not totally flat. And we see mountains to the left, right, and straight ahead. Soon we are climbing into the mountains.

We arrived Monterrey at 8:30 just after dark. It is raining with water running in the streets. We stopped at a Hampton Inn & Suites, which cost a lot more than we usually spend - but we were exhausted. The room was quiet and very nice. We had a good sleep - and a free breakfast the next morning.

Saturday, 9/1 - I was driving when we arrived San Miguel with its narrow cobblestone streets. Since I had been here before, I was an old hand at driving in San Miguel. Harry was really nervous at first, but then after a couple of days he got the hang of it, too.  However, parking is always a problem and many people walk wherever they need to go, or take an inexpensive taxi - less than $3.00 US to anywhere in the area. After we unloaded our things at our casita, we took the van to a secure lot where we had arranged to park for the duration - except when we decided to drive to adjacent towns.

The casita is lovely and comfortable with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom, all fully furnished. We even have a phone and cable TV, including CNN in English.

We quickly developed our daily ritual: up between 7:00 and 8:00; coffee, then breakfast; venture out around 10:30 or so; buy fresh pan (bread - which is the best you will find anywhere!); shop for fresh vegetables, fruits, other needs (water in 5-gallon jugs is furnished at the casita); look for things we want to buy to bring back and sell. Then back to the casita around 2:00 for lunch. (Most of the stores close from 2:00 to 4:00.) Then back out around 4:00 or 5:00. We usually go to a nearby Internet cafe. One near our casita is the cheapest in town - 20 pesos per hour. That's slightly more than $2.00 per hour, and they have good computers and a cable internet connection. Other internet places in town charge up to 38 pesos an hour.

Here's a picture of our casita. You enter a courtyard and then go up the stairs to ours.

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