Trip Start Feb 20, 2012
60Trip End Apr 15, 2012
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Ah to be up and leaving this town, heading down an open road
With all that you own kinda thrown on the back seat
Thinking 'bout where you're going, to New Orleans, maybe Mexico!"
- Jerry Jeff "Maybe Mexico"
Sticking with a theme here quoting lyrics from some songs of my life - Hope you don't mind!
Day 17 - Laredo, Texas to Real DE Catorce, San Louis Potosi (State), Mexico.
Went through 5 states today (Tamaulipas, Nueva Leon, Coahuila, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi)
530 km and 7 hours
You may notice I didn't post from our drive from San Antonio and night in Laredo
Seriously, not much of anything good to say about Laredo. It's just a jump off point for getting into Mexico. We found adequate and cheap room at the Super 8, and actually had a very good meal at Sushi Madre - yes that's correct Tex-Mex Sushi!
We were up at 5 to get over the border early and do our paperwork (Tourist Visas & Temporary Car Importation Permits). The place was empty and we breezed through in less than 30 minutes.
A note of warning if you ever plan to drive into Mexico (which we found out a couple weeks before we left Canada). If you lease your car (at least from Toyota in our case) they won't let you take it into Mexico!!! You require (from Mexican officials) a letter of permission from the leasing company. When I phoned about it, that's when I found out about Toyota's position. To quote them "You can take the car anywhere in North America, but you can't take it to Mexico." Maybe they should check a map someday! Anyway, with a bit of scrambling we bought out our lease and were ready to go!
Back to the present:
MANY MANY people have been worried about our safety driving down here let me just say, we felt more uneasy in Laredo than in Nuevo Laredo or points south (so far)
Take into consideration:
the media sensationalizes events - many people in the US want to BUILD A WALL(!!) between Mexico & USA. Well, the worse the media makes it sound down here the better hopes of having it happen!
There are less cars on the roads and less accidents in Mexico than in the USA
We only drive during daylight hours, BUT the biggest danger at night is livestock not banditos!
We'll stick mainly to the Cuota (Toll) roads, which avoid towns and Topes (lethal speed bumps!)
We WILL use common sense and avoid any places that don't 'feel right' (just like you need to do in Toronto!) So stop worrying!
So much for my ;Public Service Announcement'
The highway trip past Monterrey was uneventful with beautiful mountain views all along, the main things to watch out for were the horses, mules, goats etc. along the way in the ditches on either side AND in the grassy median. If they were unattended, they were tethered so it wasn't much of a deal. The bigger (but still not much) deal was the road crews working along the way
Anyway, we reached the area of our destination. Real De Catorce - a 'PUEBLA MAGICA' (MagicTown) where we would spend the night. This designation is awarded to about 20 towns in Mexico based on there historical significance and 'magic'. To get there the last 15 km or so we had to travel on a cobblestone road, literally rocks embedded in the ground in the 1800's when it was the most lucrative silver mine in Mexico. This allowed the ore carts to descend without being mired in mud or washouts. It was a rumbly ride! When you reach the top (at over 9000 ft. above sea level!), you have to travel through a mile long one lane tunnel to reach the actual town - the only way in or out (unless on horseback). That's when the real fun began! These roads aren't meant for a loaded down Toyota Corolla! We only actualy bottomed out over one crest in the road, but it was dicey in a few spots. Donna was a little stressed out, but we made it to Refugio Romano our lodging for the night What a great spot built into the mountain right above (still in) town, it has amazing views and a beautiful room with rock walls and a functioning fireplace, although we didn't need it
We went walking around town, not far but VERY hilly and all cobblestone. Stopped and looked at a number of crafts, lots of authentic stuff. The Huichol Indians indigenous to the area do beautiful beadwork and yarnwork (something like needlework), only took an hour to walk the town. We stopped back at the room and then went out for dinner to at El Meson de la Abundancia. Lovely spot, where Donna had a delicious thin crust pizza and I had the Pollo de Quatro Queso (chicken w/4 cheeses). Mmmm...
We walked home under the moon (and street) light, and went up on the roof to watch the moon over Real De Catorce. Truly a magical place, and one that will be VERY difficult for any place to surpass on this trip.