Mexico Border crossing. We made it!!

Posted: July 20, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

We left Laredo headed for the bridge to Mexico. We had heard that bridge 2 was the better one to choose, primarily due to construction. This info was found online by visiting Mexico Mike’s webpage. It was a little nerve-racking not knowing exactly what to expect. We had researched and read and felt like we had a good idea, but actually doing it now was almost stressful. However the overwhelming excitement trumped the stress and we just pressed forward. We got in line and easily maneuvered through the first gate. Wow! That wasn’t so bad. Then we pulled up to the first check, where we had to provide our passports, and the guard opened a door to peek in the vehicle. We were waved through easily. I looked in my rear view mirror just in time to see a guard open Bernard’s door and a sleeping bag fell out. They shared a laugh and she motioned him through.

No firearms allowed-only police and cartel will carry guns in Mexico!

The first border stop

 

We pulled up to a second guard motioning us to pull off to the left. He did not speak English at first, but when I questioned him about directions to the immigration office (or Adduna), he spoke quite well ‘and gave us the directions. We were in! We made our way through poorly marked streets, heeding the “Alto” signs (Stop). We were to go make a u turn across a 3 lane road. After one missed turn, we were headed in the right direction. It was difficult to take everything in, enjoy the moment of being in another country, and follow choppy directions. But it was exciting! Here we were world travelers, making our way through another country learning the signs, and traffic habits.

We finally found the building where we were to get our visas and car permits.

Bernard and Angela heading into get visas

We made our way in trying to read signs in Spanish to direct us. The people we passed seemed friendly, speaking only in Spanish. Immigracion’ was the first window. We were greeted in Spanish. Bernard said, “ Do you speak English”?  “Pequena” (little) , He said. He asked for our passports and then scanned a copy of each. He handed us a form to fill out and pointed to a table. As we began filling them out a gentleman came over offering assistance. He was helpful, and I assumed he was working for tips. After completing all of our forms, we offered him a tip, to which he held up his hand and said, “No”.

Back up to the window, we handed in the forms and we were granted 180 days visa to tour the country. We were told to go to the next stations, number 2 and number 4. As we passed station 2 we saw that it said “copias” or copies. Feeling smug, we passed that station. We had done our research and had three copies of everything, our passports, international drivers licenses, and  vehicle titles. We were prepared and on top of it. We waited in a long line for the car permits. There were about 5 windows open, but it seemed to take about 10 minutes or so for each permit. Patiently, we waited for our turn. Children canvassed the line trying to sell chicklets, flowers, and anything someone would pay for. They would come up to you with a sad look in their eyes holding their product speaking only in Spanish. It took multiple, “No, gracias” for them to move to the next person.

Finally my turn!

Bernard getting his car permit

 

Finally we were up! I walked to the window copies in hand and pulled out my folder. I asked the girl at the window if she spoke English. She smiled nervously and looked at one of her co workers who walked over to assist. He spoke pretty good English, but was very soft-spoken. We managed to get all of the items he requested, copies of all of my documents,  and another form to fill out. Then he asked for my copy of my visa. UUGGHH! Of all the things,  we did not stop and make a copy of the visa. We thought we had been fully prepared. The line was twice as long as it was when we started an hour and a half ago! Fortunately, he told me to go make a copy and return to his window and wait for him to finish with that person. Phew! That was close. I did not want to wait for that line again. I noticed Bernard was having to do the same thing. He finished up sooner than I did. He and Angela waited for me to get the copy.

Angela waiting for us to finish

 

After getting my copy, making it back to the window and receiving my car permit, we were headed out the door. We were official. We still had cell service so we were able to update Facebook and read emails. Angela had researched a campground in Hidalgo Mexico which offered turn by turn directions. She saved the page on her phone so we could follow them as we left the border. We knew phone communication would abruptly come to an end, so we gave Bernard one of the walkie talkies so we could talk.

Now on to the final stop. Approximately 16 miles from the border , headed toward Monterrey, was a permanent military checkpoint. This is a game of Russian roulette. You pull up to a gate, and wait for the light to either turn green or red. If it turns green you are free to pass. If it turns red, you must pull over to the side and they conduct a more thorough search. As it would go, we got the red light! We pulled over to have our vehicle inspected. As I pulled up, the guard began speaking in Spanish. “No, compri hendo”, I said. He smiled and began speaking in broken English. He did a little more inspecting. I spoke with him and told him we were headed to Monterrey for camping. About that time, Bernard also pulled up. My inspector said, “are you all together”? “Si”, I said. I looked over at Bernard as three inspectors converged on his vehicle. I noticed them speaking to him. All of a sudden, they all started laughing. I later learned that Bernard had whipped out the Augusta Chronicle article about our trip and showed them. They thought we were celebrities and laughed as they waved us all on.  Go Bernardo!

Bernard had border patrol laughing

We were now really travelling in Mexico! The exhilaration consumed me. The excitement, the preparation, the frustration, it all came to a head at that very moment. We had arrived.

We are trying to keep these post as current as possible, with limited internet and time to write them. However, you can follow us on Facebook as well. We have updated status’s and pictures, so check us out here:  Central America Overland Expeditions and don’t forget to sign up in the box to the left for future email notifications. Tell your friends! Next stop, Hidalgo Mexico!

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Comments
  1. Johnny Cordray says:

    Yall are living my dream!!!! So happy to see yall are making it happen and very excited to be able to track your progress. Good Luck and take pics! We will be thinking about you here in Charleston, SC…

  2. Chef Bourque says:

    Glad you guys made it across the border. I thought you were going to say Bernard pulled out his harmonica and had them dancing and so happy they had to let ya’ll thru. Good luck on the next stretch of road. Keep cook’n, AIEEE!

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