Well, I can now say that we have safely crossed the Mexican USA border and are enjoying our first real visit to Phoenix, AZ. My only regret now, is leaving Mexico. : ) I already miss the moisture, so does my skin, my eyes and lips. I miss alot of things already… surfing and sailing…the RIGHT to eat nacho’s and drink corona’s…. the hola’s and gracias’… but most of all I miss the ocean, and just looking at it every single day, the view, and the lovely smell. I don’t miss the cockroaches or the speed bumps, but that’s a short list.
On Monday morning, bright and early at 0645 we left the condo just south of La Cruz and started the journey on the windy, tree lined, lush green highway to Sayulita. It was much less busy than on our way in, and we were able to avoid most of the traffic, making good time to Tepic. It’s helpful to know the towns along the way on this journey, because the GPS was less than helpful on this leg of the trip. She (Elizabeth the GPS lady) led us astray several times on the way in, taking us off the toll roads and leading us through little towns. No good. This time we were more prepared, but the trouble is that the highway markers don’t point to the border until the last town, so you need to know the places you’ll hit along the way and pay close attention to the signs. Also, know that CUOTA means a toll road (AKA fast) and LIBRE means free, and SLOW. We spent about $75 in tolls, which was well worth it but factor that into your drive both north and south because you will want cash in pesos for that (and gas is only cash too).
We brought snacks, water, and lunch along for the 2 day trip because we knew quick road stop food of our caliber would be few and far between, so this helped us improve our time as stops were limited to gas and bathroom breaks. We made it to Navojoa by about 5pm. The Best Western had replied to my email (after we left) and asked whether the dog was small or large, good thing I didn’t reply then, nor when the hotel clerk asked when we checked in. Well, we avoided that part of the question, yes, we had a dog. : ) Smile. Compared to a horse he’s small. We ended up in a room near the back courtyard, with a nice patch of grass and some trees. They never saw Nixon, but I’m not sure they would have said anything about his size anyway. There was another couple with a dog as well. The hotel was fairly nice for Mexican (non touristy areas) standards, and clean, and the best part was that it was quiet and free from the noise of highway and gun shots (unlike Lost Mochis). We had a great sleep, were up at dawn again, and back on the road by 0715.
Day 2 was long. Between toll booths, and military checkpoints, and the border crossing we spent 11 hours in the car before finally arriving in Phoenix. The military checkpoint was about 100 km from the US border (strange we thought) but you will notice the right hand lane comes to a hault and the semi trucks are backed up for miles and miles. The left lane, with cars and RV’s slows to a crawl, but makes it through with a couple minutes per car going through each booth. They asked where we were coming from, how long we’d been down there, and what we did for a living, though he didn’t speak much english.
The border crossing went well, about a 30 minute wait altogether at 2pm. Before you get there though (around km21), keep your eyes peeled for the paper-processing area (which is smaller and less obvious going north), because you have to hand in your vehicle permit but don’t worry, this time its a drive through booth (follow the foreign plates)! I assume this is how they know that your car made it back out of Mexico in the event that you want to return to the country in that same vehicle (otherwise they think your car is still down there). Who knows?! Also, there is a couple of gas stations with snacks. Don’t spend all your pesos here because there is another 44 peso toll just past there! We were almost short in change. Also, pay attention to which lane is for CARS (left) and which is for Commercial SEMI’s (right side) because if you get stuck in the semi lanes (far right) you will probably be there for HOURS and HOURS (we saw a poor van stuck in there on the other side of the concrete barrier, poor people).
When we finally got through to the border, the US officials were probably the friendliest we’d ever seen! They did however, confiscate Nixon’s dog food (our expensive-from-Mexico-Royal-Canin) which was in a small garbage pail (unfortunately with no labels or identification…silly me) and although it was made in the US they “couldn’t verify the contents” but appologized for tossing it out. I had called the US border before we left, and they said it wasn’t a problem between US and Canada, but I guess it is between US and Mexico. So, they advised us for “next time” to bring only a couple days’ supply in a ziplock (which is as much as they let us keep).
So that was our last 2 days in a nut shell. We made good time. 17 hours from La Cruz to Nogales, with an average speed of about 120. Cops on the road (dark colored Dodge Chargers) were less this time than on the way down, but you definitely have to watch for them, and slow down for the small towns when the speed decreases.
Perhaps we’ll blog tomorrow about Nixon’s day at the dog park and his trip to the absolutely fabulous dog kennel in Phoenix (The Secondhome Pet Resort)! He’s out cold on the white hotel bedspread. Snore.