Into Old Mexico


Note: I’ve jumped forward a week as the rest of my trip through the US was kind of tedious & vexing, to say the least. I’ll add in a summary post of that section of the trip later.

I was a bit nervous about crossing into Mexico given all the drug war instability in the region.  After a lot of research I decided to cross into Mexico at Piedras Negras, across the river from its US sibling, Eagle Pass, Texas. It is a relatively out of the way border crossing, and the army had swept through the previous week and cleared the bad guys out of town.

I left the motel on the US side around 8.30 AM and drove a mile down the road to the International Bridge into Piedras Negras Mexico. First thing in Mexico that surprised me was that there were almost no border formalities  at the geographical frontier. I just paid the toll, drove over the bridge, was waved through a security checkpoint and was on my way out of town.  It turns out all the paperwork was to be done at a customs office 30 miles south.  As soon as I got to the customs station I checked myself into the country and then got a temporary import permit for the bike ($300 deposit charged to my credit card, to be returned once I leave Mexico).

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Temporary Vehicle Import Permit - I'm all legit now

From there I rode another 160 miles to Cuatro Cienegas. The first pleasant surprise was , for the most part, how easy the driving was down here. The roads were a little rougher than the US, but mostly 4 lane with little traffic. I averaged an easy 60 mph most of the time, and well over 70 on a deserted 30 mile toll road section.

On the downside I had to watch out for the dreaded “Topes” going through towns. These are speed bumps that come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from gentle bumps you see in shopping center parking lots to steel half domes, to suspension shattering angular ridges. The problem is most of these aren’t signposted. I found the easiest way to handle these was not slow down, stand on the pegs , pull in the clutch and coast over. I nearly fell over at one since I saw it at the last minute and panic braked from 25 mph. I’ll need to be more careful with these.

Other than that the riding was drama free. Like I said earlier, I was nearly losing sleep over the cartel chaos, but once I got in country I felt completely safe. I was stopped and had my luggage searched at an army checkpoint but the soldiers seemed more interested in the bike rather than checking to see if I had any contraband. In fact, anytime I stopped people started asking me about the bike and my trip. How much?, how fast? where was I coming from, where was I going, etc. Everybody was very friendly, and not once did I feel even remotely threatened. Lets hope this continues!

I finished the day in the mellow, town of Cuatro Cienegas in the high deserts of Coahuila. I’m staying at a really nice and cheap hotel, where I’m taking a rest day to do some tourism and get caught up with this blog, and maybe indulge in a few malt based beverages to celebrate my arrival in another world.

I’m back in Mexico, one of my favorite countries. I’m on a motorbike, the weather is great, and I have no schedules to keep. Life is good!

 

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In the badlands

 

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Desert town of Cuatro Cienegas

 

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They're getting ready for Day of the Dead

 

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Evening in the square

 

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