CROSSING THE BORDER. Written two days afterwards.
The high point of my year for the past two decades has been a winter trip to a beach in Mexico. This recently expanded to include a summer trip to the mountains in Mexico. One thing that told me I was ready to retire was when I realized that I spent my whole year waiting for those trips.
Long story short, Fred and I now have sold Margaret Ellis Jewelry (and it continues in the capable hands of Mclaine Richardson) and now we have the time to spend wherever we choose. This year our trip to Mexico has expanded to six months. Here is the account of the first couple of days of our journey.
We took our time getting to Laredo, the point of our crossing,visiting friends and family along the way. We were both feeling a bit of anxiety about what would actually be involved with driving across as all our other trips had been via airplane. We are traveling in a 2007 RAV4, as a Mini Cooper just seems totally wrong for such a journey.
While we have both spent much of our time this summer researching all the questions about the rules and regulations–including taking Pinky–on the days as the reality approached, we were both a bit anxious as to whether we had done everything right.
I felt so emotional as we drove across the Rio Grande, heading towards Mexican customs. I thought about all the people who have had to swim across to come to the land of “opportunity” and of the sadness I feel about how they might be treated when they arrive. In light of this, I am humbled that we can drive across in the comfort of our car and be welcomed into their beautiful country. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of Mexico, and the graciousness of the people I find here. This country changes me in ways I find no words to express. Someone asked me, “Why do you want to go to Mexico?” I think the answer is simply the way it makes me feel.
And driving across is very different from arriving by plane. As it turned out, getting through customs and immigration was a breeze. Even though we got a random “red light”, they really didn’t search our car. The only mishap of the trip happened at the very beginning. We took a wrong turn to head to the toll road to Monterrey and ended up smack in the middle of Nuevo Laredo. When we pulled into a Pemex station to ask directions an old gringo guy on a beat–up motorcycle sort of led us to where we needed to go. Once on the highway, we had no problems at all. The toll roads all the way from Laredo to San Miguel were very good highways. Lots of Pemex stations with clean restrooms. The landscape was spectacular. It started with flat dessert filled with scrubby bushes and cactus, and then became mountains with their peaks in the clouds. We by-passed Monterrey, as we did all the cities on our route. When we were approaching Matehuala, at about 3 PM, we realized we had underestimated how long the trip would take. Our little “side trip” in Nuevo Laredo had slowed us down by about an hour as well. We decided to find a hotel in Matehuala and break our trip into two days. We got off the toll road and drove into town. It is a pretty little Mexican town, about the size of Franklin, TN. There were no hotels, so we headed back to the highway to check out one we had seen on the edge of town. As we pulled in, it seemed ultra big and ultra swank for such a small town. It turns out that Las Palmas Midway Inn is the place where most people stay the night who are driving into Mexico. It was truly an oasis. We were amazed that we just stumbled in to such a place. Even though we didn’t have reservations, there was one room available, and we were cut some slack with Pinky. When we went to have cocktails (yes, most definitely) and dinner in a grove of palm trees by a beautiful swimming pool, we were invited to join another couple. They live part-time in Texas, but have a home in San Miguel. We were thrilled to make San Miguel friends before we even arrived. We had a lovely evening, and got to bed fairly early as we had had a long day.
The next day (yesterday) we had a leisurely morning, a wonderful breakfast, and a four hour drive to San Miguel, with toll roads almost all the way. The couple from Texas had given us some step-by-step printed instructions for how to get into town and we had no problems at all. The housekeeper was waiting for us. We were pleased to see that she was the same lovely person we had had when we were here summer before last. There was a big bowl of fruit on the kitchen table and roses in vases all over the house. The house is on a side street in the Centro, so we can walk to everything, Walk carefully, I might add, as I do not take cobblestones for granted! Our friend, Carolyn Elam, had been so kind as to rent a long term parking lot space for us before she left San Miguel last week. We got the car unpacked, took Pinky for a walk in the park, and took the car to the lot. It was now 5:30 and we were so happy to be here. Fred walked down the street and got carry out for our dinner. Some sort of fiesta is happening on Sunday and some people were getting an early start on fireworks, but that was over fairly early. Then there was a thunderstorm that started around 9. Pinky had a hard time understanding why there was so much noise, but she finally settled down and now she is sleeping on the sofa by my side while I write this. Fred is still upstairs sleeping, too. But soon the day will begin. We will carry our plastic shopping bag and go to the markets. We have no agenda today…only to enjoy being alive and finally here in this beautiful city.
I am posting a picture of our sweet little home away from home for the next three months. There is a terrace on the roof.
More to come.