Thursday, April 30, 2009

border trip

A few weeks back we had to make another trip to the border. I brought my camera along so I could show all of you just how vacant this country is. The majority of the way we took the toll roads and there is just nothing for miles and miles.

We headed out of the house around 4:30 am. After seeing enough mountains, open road and cactus people (take a look at the 3rd picture, to me they looked like a lot of people doing various things, i.e. dancing) for the past 4 to 5 hours we had to stop and stretch our legs.

During our brief pause I took a few pictures. I found a cactus that I swear looks like a cartoon character, a wild bull (he wasn't too fond of me taking his picture) and some barrels for water and trash (we were pretty far from the border so it was funny to see they had both Spanish and English on them).

After a few minutes we got back on the road and we saw some more mountains and a guy standing on the mountain. Not really sure who he is but I am sure he is pretty important to someone.

One thing that will probably never get old for me is seeing animals so close to the road. And not the Main Street in a small town kind of road. The driving 70 mph + kind of road. Jorge was kind enough to know that I wanted to take pictures so when he would see some he would slow down. How sweet! Here are two pictures. The first of horses. You can't see, but only one is tied down the others are free as birds. The second picture shows a man herding a large flock of sheep.

I don't know about you, but driving long distance always puts me in the mood for a bunch of garlic. Good thing they sell tons of it on the side of the road.

And there was more driving and more driving. The trip to the border is 12 hours one way. When you don't have anything to look at most of the way and all of the things you are looking at look the same (the scenery) it takes forever! However, they were building a road all along the existing toll road. I didn't look but I bet it was over 20 miles. And, in Mexico there are so many mountains/hills that it is a bit of a task. The first picture you can see in the distance were there is a clearing. The second look in the red box and that is a big bulldozer.

Here are a couple other things that are not common. The first is a picture of the base of a tractor trailer. We saw several over the course of a few hours. The second picture shows a common practice in Mexico, paying to use the restroom. At approximately $0.20 it is a bargain but just remember to always have change on you.

After passing the middle of nowhere (this first picture shows the actual location of the middle of nowhere) we finally start to see signs of our destination. From this point we still have quite a ways to go, but just seeing the name "Nuevo Laredo" is promising.

This would be a good time to mention how getting directions in Mexico differs than in the US. In the US you can pull up trusty ol' or and plug in point A and point B. There is also that nifty feature allowing you to plug in more than point A and B. But here in Mexico, let's just say we don't have that luxury. Also, the manner in which directions are given are a bit odd. If I want to give someone directions from Indy to St. Louis I would use 70 and 465 as part of my language. In Mexico, you can see the signs have numbers but not many use those numbers. The first time I drove to Mexico I got directions from my friend Ruben and these were his exact directions (this is once you hit the border): Go towards Monterrey, towards Saltillo, towards Matehuala, towards San Luis Potosi, towards Ojuelos, towards Lagos De Moreno and then finally Jalostotitlan. Not one number in those directions. Talk about scary the first time.

Once we got to Nuevo Laredo you can see many American companies that have crossed the border with their factories. Pictured first is one that I find ironic, American Standard. Then, our favorite, Wal-Mart.

Here are the signs pointing the way to the International Bridges. Unfortunately we can't cross but we can see our way to the other side. The second picture, if you look close enough, you will notice the Golden Arches on the US side. The third picture is just showing the river that separates the US and Mexico.

Some of you have heard our horror story of my bank card not working. I will be kind and give you the short version. Bank card didn't work, instead of needing $26 for the car permit they wanted $426 because I had to pay cash, didn't have the money, a friend happened to be there at the same time (odds are against us in that happening, ever) and he loaned us the money. Someone was looking out for us that day. The guy in the truck below made it possible for us to make the trip back.

On the way back to Jalos we saw a large number of vehicles carrying soldiers. I can only assume these are more soldiers that have been called to the borders to help fight the problems with smuggling guns and money to Mexico and keep drugs from getting into the US.

One last finally picture showing you why it was so important for us to get back to Jalos.

We made it back in once piece. Glad to have the trip over and have 6 months until we get to do it again.

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