Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Skip's Mexican Motorcycle Odyssey Part II

(The following is from an ongoing live travel journal as I head into Mexico on a dual-sport Kawasaki KLR650 with the Panasonic LX1 as my only image capture device to explore the East Coast of Mexico. If you would like to read the entire installment, go to http://www.poppinfreshmedia.com/skipmexmc.html and read the most recent blog entry. The entire blog started last Summer as I traveled the interior of Mexico and the Baja. It's complete with photos, photo galleries, and now LX1 video clips. If you would like to get an automatic email when the motorcycle blog is updated with new content, there's a place on the right margin of the blog that allows you to subscribe for updates for free!)

Mexico ~ January 12-17, 2006

I don't know why it always takes be several hours to get ready and pack for one of these trips. It's always check, re-check, tighten all the bolts twice, etc. I mean, it's not like I'm going off into the void or anything. You can always find just about anything you need in countries like Mexico (except decent chain lube). But, at 2AM I was finally convinced there was no more packing and rechecking to be done.

Naturally, I didn't get on the road as early as I'd hoped. There was the last minute drop off at the post office that ended up taking an extra hour, etc. But soon I was blazing down the highway South.

The weather was a bit ominous which didn't help my launch jitters. It was overcast, grey, windy, and a bit of chill in the air. As I neared the border there was a huge fire to my right that sent a blackened-grey smoke cloud up into the already ashen sky. The smoke pillar's torso seemed to glow a dirty yellowish brown and I tried not to look at it. It sort of made me uneasy for some reason.

Every border crossing I've encountered so far as been pretty straight forward with the signage. Such was not the case near Reynosa. I think there are several crossing points, but the one I happened to land at was called something like Fhatt I think. I really was skittish about crossing this time. Didn't know why, but I thought I might spend the night on the U.S. side and cross in the morning when I'd be fresh. Figured I'd pick a room close to the bridge so that I'd get up, grab a shower, and hit the Aduana with all my faculties.

I turned a couple streets and the next thing I knew was that I was inline for crossing. Oh well, no time like the present. It was already around 5PM so I thought maybe if it went smooth I'd try to ride past Reynosa and to the next town to get a room for the night. Such are the best laid plans. ;-)

There was a pretty long line to cross, but it did move pretty quick. In no time I was on the Mexican side trying to find the office for vehicle permits. You'd think it'd be right there on the other side of the bridge. There was a sign pointing left and I followed the already harried traffic until I saw a building that looked "official". A half hour later and many circles around the area, I still hadn't found it. Turns out it's only about 3 blocks away, but it's tucked behind some other buildings. Luckily someone pointed me in the right direction and again I was inline.

I should've remembered from the last trip all the hoops you have to jump through. After waiting in line for the permit, I was directed to another line for a new tourist Visa. This is where it really started to go down hill. After another wait in line, the official raised his eyebrows, counted days on his fingers, then rushed back to enter something in the computer. When he came back he told me my permit and visa had expired by six days. I explained that I knew this, and had been given instructions by both the Mexican Consulate in Austin, and Bancerito (or something like that) in Mexico City, that it was quite alright if I turned in the vehicle permit late instead of making two trips to the border. That's about when my stomach sunk as I realized he wasn't talking about the vehicle permit, but the tourist visa. He seemed pretty disgusted and said I hadn't even paid the $210 pesos for the original visa. I protested to no avail that I had paid the fee and he shook his head and said, "We know you're lying.. you have no stamp on your visa..." I again told him I paid but that the Laredo border officials must have neglected to stamp my form."........

(continue reading and see more photos, etc. from this trip in this blog ~ http://www.poppinfreshmedia.com/skipmexmc.html)