June 23, 2013

Road Warriors Day 3...

Seth woke up bright and early at 6am on Day 3 to run to the Chedauri to get a new battery. Wouldn't you know it didn't open for another hour so we ended up hanging out in our room, completely packed...just waiting and waiting and waiting. He finally got our battery, changed it
out lickity split (thank God I married a handy man), and we zoomed out of Tampico. This would be one of our easiest days because we would get to the border easily by early afternoon, and then hopefully, land in Austin by early evening...or at least, that was the plan.
Now, I know by now you know me well enough to know that when we stopped to get gas, I, of course, picked up some tamales being sold out of the back of a truck. Funny thing was the twenty something girl didn't speak any English, but her seventy something grandmother did. We ended up speaking Spanish the whole time anyway, but I still found it interesting. Seth says that these were the best tamales he's ever had, and I have to say I agree. They were only 20 pesos for two, and they were HUGE! Why? Why? Why didn't I buy more for later? Why?

This was a chain that we kept seeing from Tampico to the border. For you all who don't know, a tope is a speed bump, and in Mexico, they are humongous! This restaurant would be located right at a tope, hence the name "El Tope." I thought it was cute.
"Please do not honk your horn." I can see this being a problem since there are so many buses driving the single lane roads. However, I can't see people really paying any attention to the sign.
When I was planning our route, we had two options. We could go up to Victoria and then scoot over to San Fernando up to Brownsville. This would be a toll road and more heavily traveled. Our other option was to drive on the coast on a free road which only had about four towns showing on the map. Option 2 would save us an hour of driving, plus we wouldn't have to pay tolls or be stuck behind buses and semi's. We are soooo glad we went with the ladder because it was the most beautiful end of our journey in Mexico. It was truly a wonderful morning.

Through our entire three days of driving through Mexico we would see cows and horses just parked on the side of the road. Its almost like they knew they would be hit if they went on the asphalt so they just hung out right on the edge, eating grass and chilling.

As we got closer to the border town, the military presence became more and more noticeable. We had to go through a military check point where everyone was required to take everything out of their vehicles and get checked. The unlucky guy who got our car, opened up the back, and just kept saying in spanish, "Oh S*&T, this is full. Full. Full. Full." Then he decided it wasn't worth it and waved us on. Immediately after that, we stopped for gas, and this truck was doing drug scans on all vehicles driving down the road. C'mon, you would have been fascinated too.
The countryside started to look a lot like your typical Texas farmland.
Matamoros! At last, we meet!
I thought it was funny all the cooky hotel names. The strangest part was that they were all patrolled by federal police that had them closed off with barrels, so that you had to check in and out with them to go in. We opted not to ask questions and just kept driving along.

The signs to the border were less than clear. We did see a sign that said, "Puenta Nueva." Don't you know we were in the wrong lane and had to go straight for awhile. As we were driving, I saw a military truck with six military guys with guns out, running towards something. Then, I saw all the civilians running the opposite direction. I told Seth, "Turn now! Turn right now. I mean it. Turn!" That was the only time we saw anything  even slightly dangerous, but I figured we should just move on back to the "New Bridge" and get reacquainted with the US. I'm not embarrassed to say I was a little freaked out and very nervous. Crazy, I know!
Wouldn't you know that Mexico made us pay one last toll to cross over a river which took all of three seconds. But once over, it was like we were in a completely different world. There were signs...with directions...and they went where they said they were going!
...And you know our packed car raised some eyebrows. They pulled us over to check out our car and confiscated our dog food. I know...we're living on the edge by trying to bring dog food into the US. I can't imagine what they would have done if it had been cat food. Whew!
My first stop at an American convenience store. Yes, I would go back and visit the US often. Yes, I did just get back from dropping off Taelyn. But, it doesn't matter. My ADD was seriously going off with how much stuff there was in that store and all the options...and in English.

Making Seth the happiest man alive. His beloved Whataburger.
With all the getting lost in Matamoros and the extra stops in the US to get essential eating requirements, we didn't think we would make it to Austin after all. So we decided to just stop at Corpus Christi. We ended up going around the city and missed all the hotels. Then, when we tried a few hotels in some of the smaller towns, they were wanting $130 a night which we thought was absurd! We finally figured out it was because they were in oil country so they could afford to charge that much.  We decided to make it to San Antonio and found a place for $40 a night which was just fine. Nine at night, and we were pooped and ready to be home. 
The perfect ending to a perfect day.

Playa del Carmen to Dallas Day 3

- rise and shine 6am. Hopped to the Chedauri for battery and had to wait until 7am opening
- an hour later, on the road with a brand new spankin' battery
- stopped to get fill up 640 pesos and grabbed some tamales 16 pesos from a grandma selling out of her truck. As my friend, Santiago, said, "If the woman is old and fat, then the food is good." Dead on, Santiago. Best tamales I've ever had!
- roads going out of Tampico are rough and slowly get better; signage not the best
4 Federals in the middle of our road, looked at our plates but didn't stop us
- choose to drive 180 instead of through Victoria to save an hour. If you can get past the isolation, it's quite beautiful and much easier drive
- my husband won't stop comparing it to his childhood home, westTexas. "west Texas this, west that, blah, blah, blah." I'm reading.
-10:50 random patch of gravel road 1/2 mile long where they are making nice road; leads to beautiful road at kilometer 101
-12:00 saw our first Texas plates 80 kilometers to San Fernando
- military checkpoint at La Loma; looked at passport, saw the full car, kept saying, "oh bleep this is full" in Spanish and waved us on 
- husband hungry. Just found out dog got into his food stash last night. Ate his PBJ sandwich, last piece of chorizo, and package of pepperoni. Threatening to leave her at border
1:30 about an hour from the border; military scanning cars, no worries; gassed up 640 pesos, bought some food, exchanged out my coins at the OXXO
3:40 made into the US!!!
- pulled at border bc of dog food, go figure. 
- its a whole new world! First stop, Whataburger!
- stopped at convenience store for my vanilla Dr P. Not only did I not have to pay to use, but it had paper
6:15 gas 36 USD 
- not going to make it to San Antonio tonight. Decided to stop in Corpus Christi for the night
-missed all the hotels in Corpus. Other hotels on highway over $100 USD. Drive to San Anton and found hotel for $40 USD
-9:30  wine and hockey time
-Day Total= $2974 pesos ($223 USD)

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