Monday, November 05, 2007

5000 km Mexico Trip Report

We left at around 3h30 AM on Friday, after spending the day loading up the truck and trailer. As we were waiting at the US border and seeing all cars in front of us being searched, we were hoping that we would not have to open up the trailer for inspection. You know that closet that you fill up with all the junk lying around your home, which when opened, produces of mound of stuff up to your ears? That's what we felt would happen to the poor fellow who opened up the trailer... I have to say, it was the funniest border crossing I ever experienced. When we told him we were on our way to Mexico via Florida/Disney, we started talking about taking time off for a trip like this, talking about learning Spanish...basically no questions about your typical border crossing trek. I guess we looked pretty harmless with 2 cute kids cuddled in the back. I always found it funny that when you cross the Canadian border, they ask if you have booze and guns. When you cross the US border, they ask if you have wonder they have more crime in US!

We drove all day till about 11h00 PM to close to Fayetteville. The next day, we of coursed stopped at the cheesiest place on earth...South of the Border.

From there, we drove all the way down to Sarasota (got there pretty late), where we stayed at Wendy's cousin's place. It was a great place to relax with a huge pool and hot tub in the back yard. Great food, wine and especially company. On Monday morning, we left for Disney and did MGM Studios which was a lot of fun, although it was raining off and on all day. At least we did not have to wait in line-ups. My favorite ride was the Rock and Rollercoaster where you start off going from 0 to 95 km in 2.8 seconds. Breanna & Ryan loved the Star Wars ride and the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.

On Tuesday, we did Disney's Animal Kingdom. We started off with a safari, which was fun. The Finding Nemo and Lion King show was great and the kids loved it . Here is my favorite picture that I captured during our little safari of a sleeping lion. We ended the day with the Everest Roller Coaster which was pretty fun. Two days of Disney with kids is pretty exhausting to say the least. We went back to Sarasota and took a day off.

Our next stop was Destin, Florida Thursday. We were given the use of a time-share for the night by some friends of ours and we stayed at the Intrawest Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Wow...what a room, what a resort. This was one of the best beaches we have ever been to! The sand was close to flour, and the water was aqua blue. The kids found enough crab parts to make one good one :). We rented bikes and the kids loved the free arcade.

Saturday and Sunday we spent in New Orleans. We stayed at Le Pavillion within walking distance to the French Quarter. Talk about service! They have a real doorman! On Saturday, we walked the French Quarter and loved the architecture of the balconies. The food and music was exactly what I was hoping for. Music on the streets, great food and wonderful balconies.

We left the French Quarter around 5h00 PM, when happy hour starts (3 for 1). It did not take long for it to get raunchy, so we left with the kids. A local told us that when she leaves work around 11h00 PM, she regularly has to step over passed out teens on the street, puke, and other enjoyable obstacles, sort of like the drunk Olympics.

From New Orleans, we went to Texas in a little town called Brenham to visit my friend's parents. It also served the dual purpose to have a power supply shipped to me. OK. You all know me, and what I do. Imagine now that I left Canada forgetting my laptop power cord and the power cord for our movie player (I bought the Creative Labs Zen W which I love) which was supposed to keep the kids occupied during the trip! I was only able to recharge the movie player in Sarasota and Texas...sorry kids. The Zen is great to watch movies, in fact I regularly watch TV shows or movies in bed with it. It might also come in handy if I ever get the "runs" down here :).

From Brenham, we went to Laredo Texas, where we stayed the night. We got up early the next day, and crossed the border. I was kind of nervous, since my Spanish is really bad, so of course, I choose the wrong lane, and went into the "To Declare" lane, which is where you pay taxes for all the stuff you have. Of course, I had a trailer full of stuff! The officer told me I had to go inside to pay tax, although I told him that I think I went in the wrong lane and I was really looking for the place to get a permit for my truck & trailer. He made me go in, and I again played dumb, and told the guy at the counter that I think I at the wrong place and I'm looking for the place to get a car permit. He took me outside and gave me directions to the place, and I just headed for it. Phew! After getting my permit, I still wasn't sure I was passed the border! It was a little weird. We started driving towards PV, and at the 12 mile point, there is a checkpoint where you stop in front of a light, and luckily, it was green, so we just went on through. At that point, we knew we were in.
We had the choice of taking the toll roads (which I find quite expensive), or the free roads. Although expensive, I feel that the toll roads is the way to go. The free roads go through small towns where you have to slow down, you are only a two lane highway so you have to pass big trucks, and most of the time, there is no shoulder. The toll road on the other hand is smooth, has emergency phones at regular intervals, gas stations at regular intervals (never let your gas go below 1/2 a never know how far the next one is and you can waste lots of gas in the mountains!). The scenery was breathtaking, seeing the mountains, valleys and many varieties of plants (Tequila!). We drove all day in well into the night, when Wendy and the kids had their full. We were in Aguascalientes by then, and we had a hard time finding a hotel with vacancy. We found one, which was fairly expensive for a stop-over hotel ($120 USD), but wow what a room. We were on the ground floor facing a huge pool. We were tempted to stay an extra day! We left after breakfast and headed for our new home for the next little while. The last stretch from the main toll road to the road that follows the ocean (Highway 200) was pretty twisty and again, we were behind slow trucks. We finally made it around 9h00 PM, at which time it was pretty dark, but I found our place just fine. We unpacked the trailer, and passed out on the mattress (did not even take the time to rebuild our bed!). We awoke and of course the kids headed straight to the pool while we unpacked.
7000 KM was our total trip, and with the stops, it was quite enjoyable. We love our place, and having a pool in the back yard is great and better than going in an elevator for 20 floors like when we were at 2021 Atwater (which we really enjoyed also). Yesterday, I found the little Irish Pub in town and the owners were quite helpful giving us tips about where to find stuff in Bucerias. We had a chance to see our friends down here, and the kids today are having a little beach party in LaCruz. We just got a fridge, and still need some furniture, so we have to shop some more. Groceries are really reasonable and I can see how it can eventually cost us around 1/2 what we are used to, once you get to know the good places to shop. We have relied on Walmart so far, and although you do find good stuff at a good price, I believe you can get good fruits and vegetables from local sources.
Anyways, that is the short version of our trip so far. Stay tuned for more updates and tips on how to survive in Mexico!


Anonymous said...

Awwww, those pics make me sad. I miss Breanna soooo much! Let me know how it goes with traveling back and forth, maybe...if the price is right...i can come for 4 days or something. Give her a big hug and kiss for me please. Can I send mail, or will it get lost?

Anonymous said...

thats the best 'read' ive had in a LONG time!!!
Thanks Randy! and congrats on making it there rather safe and sound :) continue to update us. we are hoping things continue wonderfully for you :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. It is inspiring.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Randy for such great information. I have been to Guadalajara before (7yrs ago) and want to go back now that I have retired. I hope I can find housing (apt) there..Is it more expensive in Puerto Vallarta or about the same? AnnieB