Buckle Your Seatbelts, We’re Heading South of the Border!
Welcome to Mexico!
Unlike American highways that have limited access – no bikes, etc. allowed – in Mexico you see just about everything on the roads.
You will also notice a huge amount of people walking. I don’t mean just in the towns, but way out in the boondocks you see people walking along the road. You’ll run into herds of cattle eating the grass in the median and along the sides of the roads being tended by horse-riding Mexicans. You’ll see men riding mules with ponchos and big sombreros, and old and young men on ancient bicycles.
It’s important not to speed at any time – you’ll make good time anyway. There is definitely less traffic on most toll roads in Mexico than you will encounter on highways in the US.
Driving at night is highly discouraged.
Besides the obvious dangers, you can easily be confronted by stray cattle wondering around, people walking, etc., and you could lose the whole bottom of your car if you don’t see those Topes!
In the cities – be on your toes!
You will be assailed by people with sponges and rags jumping on your car to wash you windows – they expect paid. You really have to almost drive over these guys to get rid of them. Keep your window rolled up tightly and brace yourself for the crowd at the next corner. In the bigger cities the traffic picks up and there seems to be no rhyme nor reason as to how and where the cars go – so be careful – a lot of the roads in towns are very rough and not particularly well marked – so be on your toes.
Then there are the adorable children – tumbling in front of your car, walking on their hands, juggling – for pesos – and knocking on your windows with the saddest little faces they can conjure up… and they ask for anything – and everything – they can see in the car. My advice is to completely ignore them – or you’ll be overwhelmed! They can spot an out-of-town car two blocks away!
I would not suggest even trying to talk to the officials at these spots. Very few of them have any knowledge of English and this is not the time to show off any of your limited Spanish, nor act like a big-shot American. These guys have big guns and are not there for fun.
We did not have any trouble at all along the way – hope you’re that lucky. There are a lot of these check points – just smile and just keep your cool. Mainly they are checking for drug runners and illegals.
Then, in between the checkpoints, there are toll stops – many. Of course, you don’t have to take the toll roads (cuota)… until you are very familiar with the roads in the areas. But once, when Dick and I took the wrong fork and started down a free road, a truck full of smiling men cut in front of us and waved us back! They knew the gringos were heading in the wrong direction.
Keep all your receipts when traveling on Mexican Toll Roads!
If you crash, or are involved in an accident, you will need to present this receipt in order to avoid paying road repair and maintenance charges.
Cuotas (toll roads) are nonetheless the best way to go, physically and safety-wise.
Here are some words you’ll encounter on the roads of Mexico.
I suggest you at least become a bit familiar with these, because signage on the roads is in Spanish:
A sign with a capital E crossed out means Don’t park here
Alto – STOP
Aumento – to increase
Cambio – change – as a place to change or exchange money
Carril izquierdo – lane on left
Cinturon de seguridad – safety belt
Concedia Cambio De luces – concede to change of lights – this may refer to the fact that when you come to a bridge etc., where there is only one lane, the person to hit their lights first has the right of way!
Concida – is to concede – to give way
Di no la Basura – di is to give, no is no, la is the, basura is rubbish. In other words, don’t litter.
The Powerball numbers for 11-28-2012 were: 5,23,16,22,29 and the Powerball is 6. We didn’t win – darn it…….. ;) Not sure if anyone noticed, but it was darn near impossible to get the results online because EVERYBODY was looking for the winning number! Servers were crashed everywhere and I couldn’t even find the results online, but Dick was watching TV (and wrote down the winning numbers) and came in while I was searching for them online. Sometimes the “old fashioned” TV beats the computer :)
Addition Feb 3, 2013 – the amount you need to move to Mexico has changed – see – http://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/detroit/index.php/info-english