Just like the USA, we intend to cross Mexico pretty quickly. We spend just nine days in Mexico which sounds like it doesn’t do it justice. We have a few reasons for this. Firstly, we have been to Mexico before and can get there pretty easily. We can get insurance for Griego and Seven in Mexico and we intend some future trips in that vehicle setup in the future. Secondly, there is no doubt that the risk of violence in Mexico is very high right now due to the cartels. I don’t pay attention to the Canadian government travel advisories too much, except when they get to the “Do not travel at all” level, and many Mexican states are at that level. I will refer to red border states later. Red border states are the ones with a red border on the Canadian government map and those states have an advisory level of “Do not travel at all”. So, we decided to scoot down the middle of Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula as quickly as we could. We will spend a few days in Yucatan as it is fairly safe, but Mexico isn’t that new for us, so we won’t spend much time there either.
May 7, 2023 – Piedras Negras
Today we crossed into Mexico and very quickly wished we had spent more time learning Spanish. Not to worry, we are stopping for two weeks of Spanish school in Guatemala. Until then we will have to wing it. We drove about 50 kilometers into Mexico to the Immigration office and Banjercito where we got our Mexican tourist card (FMM) and temporary import permit (TIP) for Lucy. This is going to be a standard procedure at every border we cross so we felt good that we managed it without any issues. It is now legal for us to go past the free zone in Mexico. After getting our documents in order we drove back to Piedras Negras where all the hotels are and we are tucked into a funky room for the night. Tomorrow will be a big driving day as we scoot deep into Mexico past all the trouble zones.
May 8, 2023 – Matahuala
Today we drove for 9 hours to get past the red border Mexican states. This is the last day where we are compelled to do a lot of driving. We may have some more significant driving days but they will be by choice as opposed to necessity. We had no issues. We took the toll roads when we could and there was a fairly significant police presence along the route so we felt quite safe. We don’t have any worries from this point forward as we are only in places that the USA and Canada rate as “exercise caution” which is the rating they use for virtually the whole world. We saw lots of Joshua trees along the route. We stayed at the Las Palmas Midway Inn in Matahuala, which is a classic choice for those crossing Mexico as it is reachable within a day’s drive from Piedras Negras. Our next major stop will be Palenque but I don’t know how far we will go tomorrow.
May 9, 2023 – Tula de Allende
We continued to Palenque and drove to Tula de Allende. We got fairly close to Mexico City and the highway became very busy. At one point there was an accident and we were stopped on the highway for over an hour. This pushed us into driving in the dark to get to our Airbnb which was a bit scary. We resolved to leave earlier in the day from now on.
May 10, 2023 – Alvarado
We are out on the Gulf of Mexico once again. We are in a beautiful little town which is on a spit jutting into the gulf so there is water on both sides. Just a couple more shorter driving days to get to Palenque. We have logged a lot of kilometres since leaving, but that was expected and we are almost at the point where we slow down. Northern Mexico isn’t very interesting so we did want to blow past that part. The climate and landscape have turned closer to tropical today as opposed to the desert of northern Mexico. It was very hot in Alvarado and the air conditioning in the Airbnb didn’t work that well but it had good ceiling fans in the bedroom so we were able to sleep fairly well. We will be in full-blown tropical by Palenque. We did see our first Mayan ruin today. We saw the ruins of one of their highway overpasses.
May 11, 2023 – Coatzacoalcos
We had a lovely day today. We only moved 254 km down the road. We were on some backroads, off of the four-lane highways where you don’t see much, and saw some beautiful landscape. We stopped for lunch in a beautiful town called Tlacotalpan. There was a beautiful square with two amazing churches and we had lunch beside the water. The birds would fly right into the restaurant and beg for crackers. A gentleman from the restaurant, who spoke a little English, walked with me to an ATM, then took me to another one when the first didn’t work, waited for me outside to make sure it worked and then walked me back to our car. That is the real Mexico. Our Airbnb tonight is also wonderful. Tomorrow we make it to Palenque, where we will stay for two nights and explore the Mayan ruins.
May 12, 2023 – Centro
On the way to Palenque, we ventured off the highway into the farmland to stop under a tree for lunch. It was 38 degrees C and humid.