First job, purging. The goal was to drive south with everything I own while still having a clear view through the back window. I came pretty close. This is everything but the art I have collected from my friends. Once I added that, I covered everything with blankets and had an only partially obstructed view.
Next step, get my second shot. Almost no issues at all. Spent a delightful night in an Air bnb with two friends, and didn’t detect any side effects until the next night when I might have had a fever and a slight chill.
Took three pics on my way through New Mexico to the border town of Columbus/Palomas.
Covid took one last shot at me in the form of documentation. During the pandemic, all car registration was done virtually, so I didn’t have a physical piece of paper for the Aduana, and nobody likes paperwork more than the Mexican bureaucracy. So I stayed an extra night in Deming and printed a copy at my hotel. On the good side, I had a great posole for dinner.
Next morning, I drove across the border, eager to get an early start. Of course the Banercito office that takes payment for vehicle permits wasn’t open until 8, so I stood around before being bounced from window to window so they could make my printed registration sufficiently official. Then I drove through inspection. The officer went through my stuff a bit more than cursorily. I told him my plans to live in Oaxaca. He said I should have paid taxes on all the household stuff I was importing. “So I have to go back?” I asked. He smiled. “No, next time,” he said and waved me through.
I’ve taken the cuota, or toll roads all the way south, except for a stretch between Durango and Zacatecas where there isn’t one. The roads are well maintained for the most part, and traffic moves quickly, at a speed significantly above that which is posted. At times, there is only a two lane road, but Mexico deals with that in a most efficient way. They have a shoulder almost as large as a full lane, with a dotted line. If traffic on both sides straddles this line, there is room to pass without anyone slowing down. This would never work in the US, because of the power of the American ME, but in Mexico, courtesy is in the culture, and this usage of the shoulder is also codified in law and posted on signage. An entire range of speeds and vehicles was easily accommodated.
I saw a few puestos militares in northern Chihuahua, but never had to stop again after that. One Guardia Nacional officer flagged me down because I didn’t have a plate on the front of my car, but after explaining that Arizona doesn’t do that and a detailed conversation about mescal and varieties of agave, I was on my way. In Ciudad Chihuahua, I was pulled over by a bicycle cop for making an illegal turn while trying to find my hotel. That cost me a $50 bribe.
There are eight photos from Chihuahua. These are all taken with my Android, by the way.
I had dinner not far from this spot. Chihuahua, like most Latin American cities, has a large area in its center which is reserved for pedestrians. These areas are always vibrant with life and commerce. The US could learn a lot and benefit from getting people out of their damn cars. One thing I was heartened to see was how out and proud the LGBTQ community is becoming in this traditionally macho and uber-religious country. There was far more diversity in the crowd passing while I ate than I would have seen just ten years ago. Granted, this is a big city, but that is where change starts. Next morning, I headed south for the very long drive to Zacatecas. I have a couple more images from Chihuahua.
I would love to take some photos of the area around Palacio Gomez and Torreon, Coahuila right after a rain. The geology is spectacular. The pollution from whatever industry and mining is going on was oppressive, and ruined the view, along with the lungs of anyone who lives there.
Northern Zacatecas was also gorgeous, and I will take photos next time I am driving through. I was eager to get here and off the road, so I didn’t stop and wait for the perfect light needed to photograph the deep red loamy soil, green vegetation, and blue skies.
After about 8 hours and two tanks of gas, I made it to Zacatecas and my luxurious hotel which costs as much as a Motel 6. I went out to dinner, and on the way back encountered more evidence of Mexico’s maturation, a large manifestacion or protest for justice and democracy. The focus was on women, LGBTQ, and indigenous people. It was peaceful with a police escort, on Easter Sunday.