Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Driving Gringa & Sola

Practical travel information always seems to be of interest to those contemplating a driving trip. A female friend made the following driving trip by herself in August, Patzcuaro-Tucson-Patzcuaro. With her permission, I publish the following:

Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 7:56:46 PM
Subject: Driving Gringa and Sola

   chihuahua hwy

  Lest you have been fearful of driving from the central area of Mexico and Tucson, I want everyone to know I just did this trip. I drove from Patzcuaro to Tucson, up what I call the middle road. The route encompasses Morelia, Leon, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Torreon/Gomez Palacio, Chihuahua, Nuevas Casas Grandes, Agua Prieta and on to Tucson via Bisbee and Tombstone. The pavement is fine along the way with minor blemishes in the blacktop between Nuevas Casas Grandes and the border. The scenery is gorgeous, and the tolls are reasonable (more so than other routes north).
     Going north, the biggest delay was at a Mexican military stop, 10 minutes south of Agua Prieta. We waited nearly an hour, amongst lots of semi trucks with no car lane. That was okay as far as I was concerned because I am a birder and it was nice to have time to watch bird activity as we inched along the road. The
gendarmes were most polite and waved me on with "have a safe trip". I also handed them a package of shortbread cookies that I had on hand. In case you are
wondering, they were not concerned about my living in Michoacan, the supposed home of La Familia.
     Coming back, the biggest hassle I experienced was on the US side of Agua Prieta. The US Border Patrol combed through my car, asked me if I was carrying arms or $10,000 or more in USD, and why I had Texas plates if I lived in Patzcuaro. Again, I was okay with this process, because, after all, someone is providing the narcos with arms and I didn't want to be treated any differently than anyone else driving this route.

agua prieta map

     I was stopped at both Aduana's (Mexican Customs). One stop was at the border; the other was near the confluence of traffic from Cuidad Juarez and Agua Prieta. My vehicle was pretty full with condiments I cannot buy here, a power washer for cleaning tiles on my steps, a new laptop for a friend, a case of hummingbird feeders for the Patzcuaro Birding Club, and 30 pairs of binoculars for the Audubon Society located in San Miguel. After minor questions at the first stop, I was passed on with friendly wishes for a safe trip. At the second Aduana, I had to produce my permiso for the car, which is in my husband's name. They asked
me to pull over for further questioning by a higher official. Rather than have everything in my car examined, I told them that I was transporting 30 binoculars for educational purposes by SMA Audubon. I had three letters attesting to this. One officer read the letter from the Mexican Dept of Ecology out loud while the other opened a box of binoculars and looked through them. They promptly allowed me to pass on, didn't want these documents, and bid me a safe journey.
Mind you, my Spanish is fair to middling so my easy passage wasn't due to fluency.
     I am not saying that everyone's experience will be like mine; however, I have never had problems with my trips to Tucson or McAllen. All Mexican officials have been polite and professional.
Courtesy of ”G.C. on Lake Patzcuaro, Michoacan”

1 comment:

Felipe said...

The perils of Mexico are quite overrated.