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markherron@me.com

Dec 8, 2010, 11:00 PM

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Texas Border Crossing

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Hi,

Plan on driving my car (2002 4Runner) down to PV in Jan/Feb from Austin and just wanted some feed back on if crossing at Laredo would be o.k? Multiple sources have said different things...but all agree that crossing in the early AM and driving all day until you get clear of Northern Mex. is the safest means. Just wanted a realistic perspective as what to expect. Thanks in advance for the feedback.



Altahabana


Dec 9, 2010, 4:45 AM

Post #2 of 40 (22455 views)

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Re: [markherron@me.com] Texas Border Crossing

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Crossing in the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo corridor is safe enough. There are always things happening, but there have been no signficant public incidents in the last three weeks that I am aware of. A unit of marines has been conducting operations in certain areas of the city and actions like that tend to keep things under control. It is not possible to predict what the situation will be in six weeks with any certainty, but if you stay on the autopista you should be fine.

Crossing at Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras and taking Highway 57 south through Coahuila is an alternative route although it adds about 90 miles to your trip. Eagle Pass and Laredo are about the same distance from Austin. Central Coahuila has been relatively quiet during the disturbances this year though and you do avoid the Monterrey area by using this route.


markherron@me.com

Dec 9, 2010, 6:44 AM

Post #3 of 40 (22436 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Texas Border Crossing

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Perfect, thanks for the info!


sioux4noff

Dec 9, 2010, 8:15 AM

Post #4 of 40 (22415 views)

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Re: [markherron@me.com] Texas Border Crossing

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It may be 90 miles more, but is a fast route except through Monclova. And you will save considerably by avoiding the toll roads around Monterrey. That is, if you cross at Eagle Pass.
We drive from Waco, and usually stop in Saltillo the first night. From Austin, you could easily stop in Saltillo, or go on to Matehuala in one day.






Edited to correct the milage


(This post was edited by Rolly on Dec 9, 2010, 8:37 AM)


Georgia


Dec 11, 2010, 7:36 PM

Post #5 of 40 (22304 views)

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Re: [sioux4noff] Texas Border Crossing

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Normally, I would recommend the Colombia Bridge crossing - quick, easy and courteous. Then we usually drive to Monterrey and take the toll road around the city. Everything is in one place at the Colombia bridge and that makes the passage through customs, etc. very quick. . But right now it is not a good idea to take the toll road around Monterrey. Better to go via Saltillo. Within the last two weeks at least on acquaintance of a friend of mine was blocked on the Monterrey bypass cuota road, and the gun weilding robbers took everything from him: car, passport, license, money etc. He walked to the next "caseta de cobro" to call police for assistance.

Frankly this is the first time I've heard of such an incident on a toll road, especially one as expensive as that. We usually take it when we drive to our daughter's home in Austin. Now, not so sure. Our friends chose to take the libre road because it was more heavily travelled and they felt there was safety in numbers.


Reefhound


Dec 11, 2010, 8:37 PM

Post #6 of 40 (22295 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Texas Border Crossing

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I don't know about safety in numbers if everyone is unarmed. I've seen plenty of stories where a dozen cars were stopped and robbed at the same time.

But I noticed on a video of the violence in Morelia last week, showing all the burned out remains of vehicles on the highway, that none of them were 18 wheelers. Lots of 18 wheelers parked alongside the road, though. And I never hear about 18 wheelers having problems. Seems a gang could heist a few choice trucks and get more goodies than a month of robbing cars. The 18 wheelers seem to know when something is about to go down. I'm starting to think about tucking in behind a few of them and when they start pulling off the road, do the same.


sioux4noff

Dec 11, 2010, 8:56 PM

Post #7 of 40 (22290 views)

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Re: [Reefhound] Texas Border Crossing

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Reefhound, my husband read me part of an article recently about crimes against railroads and tractor-trailers. I don't have the link, but the story said that trains and semis have become more common targets of criminals. It attributed the increase to both bad economic times and also criminals who were formerly in drug crimes having switched or expanded the types of crime.


Altahabana


Dec 12, 2010, 5:04 AM

Post #8 of 40 (22267 views)

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Re: [sioux4noff] Texas Border Crossing

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"Crossing in the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo corridor is safe enough. There are always things happening, but there have been no signficant public incidents in the last three weeks that I am aware of"

There was an incident around 1 a.m. on Saturday morning. Of course there is nothing in the local papers but it appears that the military carried out some sort of operation in the area around Parque Viveros/Paseo Colon just off the Colosio periferico. I got a couple of texts from co-workers who live in South Laredo who heard explosions and gunfire asking what was going on. The Reforma forum has posts from readers that are pretty consistent in locating the enfrenimiento but vary on casualties or what occured. A couple even reported that the municipal police (a/k/a the Polizetas) were involved. Based on the hour when it happened this sounds like a calculated, planned operation by the military and not some spontaneous event. Still it demonstrates how unpredictable the situation is.

. . . my husband read me part of an article recently about crimes against railroads and tractor-trailers. I don't have the link, but the story said that trains and semis have become more common targets of criminals.

As a reprise to the Columbia Bridge thread of a couple of weeks ago, the highligted quote explains why Highway 2 north and west of Nuevo Laredo is a magnet for criminal activity by the Zetas. There are truck hijackings and spontaneous reténes of the type this poster mentioned that happen frequently. The military are aware of this and patrol the area regularly. Commercial activity attracts the Zetas and the Zetas attract the military.

But this type of activity---reténes and robbery---can occur anywhere in the Frontera region. Outside of Torreon and the Laguna area, Coahuila is controlled by the Zetas. There is nothing peculiar to Highway 57 (Piedras to Saltillo) that would make it immune or less susceptible to the wide range of Zeta criminal activity.

It is just natural though for people to downplay the risk until they have a personal experience or someone they know is credible has one. I have had first hand experience and know plenty of credible second hand anecdotes, which is why I will continue to avoid Highway 2.


Georgia


Dec 12, 2010, 7:43 AM

Post #9 of 40 (22239 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Texas Border Crossing

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Between having to deal with the TSA at airports and the Zetas at the northern border, I think I'll just stay in Mexico or travel by plane to more southern climes for the time being.

Or..... maybe if we drove our SmartCar they would take pity on us and say, "gee (not really the word I want to use, but, I'm being nice) these people can't even afford a whole car, we'll just pass on them."

Whaddya think?

Our SmartCar has Mexican plates and have have driven it to Tampa. My kids are obviously latino, so I warned my son to keep to the speed limit in Florida while driving a Mexican plated car. He got stoppede anyway - the police were curious about the car itself ... my son thought it was embarrassing.


conan the librarian


Dec 13, 2010, 10:49 AM

Post #10 of 40 (22125 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Texas Border Crossing

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Altahabana,

First of all, I truly appreciate your perspective on things. I've been lurking for quite a while and have come to rely on your posts for the most current/balanced information possible.

When you refer to the Reforma forum, are you talking about the 'Frontera al rojo vivo" twitter-style page? I follow that on a semi-regular basis, and the biggest problem I have with it is sorting out the alarmists/pranksters from the genuine posters. For example, last week there were a couple of posts alluding to a bridge closing at no. II due to a bomb threat. I was unable to track down anything at all about that.

If you are referring to a different forum, could you please post more info? We travel from a little south of Austin down to the Bajio on a semi-regular basis, so I am always looking for sites that have up-to-date, reliable info on them.

We'll be heading back around Christmas time, likely traveling Christmas day, so I'm hoping things will be relatively quiet. We follow the mantra of get an early start, drive during the day only, and take the toll roads, and we've experienced no problems yet. We did see a manta signed "la unidad Z" and a huge military convoy one time, but that was just after the Tony Tormenta operation in early November.

My philosophy: I don't fear driving into Mexico, but I don't take it lightly.


Chuck


Altahabana


Dec 13, 2010, 4:30 PM

Post #11 of 40 (22087 views)

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Re: [conan the librarian] Texas Border Crossing

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That is the forum I mentioned. I certainly do not rely on it, because it has a lot of disinformation, both rumour based and deliberately planted. But Saturday I looked at it only after people in South Laredo, which is less than 1/2 mile from the Viveros/Colon area, said they heard gunfire and explosions around 1:30 am early Saturday. There were several posts that tended to confirm something happened at that time. That is an area where there have been problems in the past. In fact two of my personal encounters--I was stopped at reten set up to protect a transfer and I witnessed an attempted kidnapping---were in that area.


jerezano

Dec 21, 2010, 6:40 AM

Post #12 of 40 (21839 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Texas Border Crossing

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Hello all,

For travel trailers and Recrecational Vehicles I usually recommend the Los Indios (Free Trade International Bridge) at Harlingen Texas because of its easy toll free access to interior Mexico and to the Gulf Coast such as Veracruz and Yucatán.

I can no longer do that because of the numerous car-jackings that have taken place in the San Fernando and Cd. Victoria areas. In fact the US State department has issued a travel warning for all travel throughout Tamaulipas.

I must now recommend the Reynosa or Pharr or Anzalduas crossing in Mission TX. All will put you directly on the cuota to Monterrey. Unfortunately both Pharr and Reynos require that you travel through Reynosa itself. The Mission TX Anzalduas crossing does not. The main reason is that the cuota to Monterrey is well patrolled by both Government and state forces.

As for the Reynosa (Hidalgo TX) crossing itself, I am not aware if RV's or Travel Trailers can cross there. All Cargo (Trucks over pickup size) must cross at Pharr or at Anzalduas.

Have a good ltrip. jerezano


markherron@me.com

Dec 21, 2010, 10:01 PM

Post #13 of 40 (21737 views)

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Re: [markherron@me.com] Texas Border Crossing

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Hi to All,

I found all the posts very insightful and helpful. I am in decision mode on whether to make the drive down from Austin to Puerto Vallarta and the more I research and read the less confident I become. So I thought it would be nice to again maybe get some more seasoned travelers thoughts...I consider myself pretty thoughtful and intelligent so I do understand that there can be a bit of a magnification of some of the negative happenings in Mexico (in general)...but there's no denying that there is a risk, a very uncertain risk, by crossing in Texas and driving through Mexico (especially a Gringo with Texas plates and a full SUV)....My situation is this...I have two young children and a wife that are to meet me by plane...it's not a necessity that I drive, but would like to have transportation as I'm uncertain of our length of stay... But... I'm beginning to think the risk is not worth the stress or worse possible outcomes (as I can think of many)? Thoughts?...
I have considered the possibility of purchasing an inexpensive, used vehicle in PV and just flying down with the family...maybe this would be a better option?....

Thanks in advance!


Altahabana


Dec 22, 2010, 6:16 AM

Post #14 of 40 (21700 views)

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Re: [markherron@me.com] Texas Border Crossing

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I don't think it is huge, but undeniably there is some degree of risk. Individual personal experiences are not a reliable indicator of risk in my opinion and too often people use them to argue that the narco insurgency is overblown by the media. The things you have found in your research most definitely occur.

As you know there are more factors than the narco insurgency to consider in deciding whether to drive or fly. Even with discounted fares for the kids, I suspect the air fare will be more than $1000 for all of you. Obviously you can travel by land (gas, hotel, food, vehicle permit, insurance, cuota fees) for less than that but it is also less than six hours from Austin by air as opposed to two days on the road in a car. Of course you can "buy" a car from an individual while there, but getting it registered and insured may be a problem if you don't have an FM3 or some other formal residency status. Someone else can better answer that question.


markherron@me.com

Dec 22, 2010, 7:20 AM

Post #15 of 40 (21679 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Texas Border Crossing

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Thanks for the reply...the family's tickets are purchased, they are flying down regardless. I'd just be bringing the car with a friend to travel along. Money is always a factor, but not really when it comes to safety. Purchasing one more ticket seems a minimal investment for safety. I suppose it's just a roll of the dice on the travel down...if I didn't have a family I wouldn't think twice about it. Guess I'll make a decision sooner than later on if it's worth the risk. Thanks to everyone on the forum, it's more than helpful! Happy Holidays to All!


donemry

Dec 22, 2010, 8:55 AM

Post #16 of 40 (21662 views)

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Re: [markherron@me.com] Texas Border Crossing

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I don't want to project a polyanna attitude toward the risk of traveling through Mexico. However, one should consider that the highest risk (however you care to quantify it) is in the border area. That exposure, in time, is about an hour. The risk drops quite dramatically after that on the cuotas. Altahabana's perception is undoubtedly colored by his residencey in Nuevo Laredo, mine is colored by the many trips we have made for Nashville to PV without incident. Driving anywhere has inherent risks.


Altahabana


Dec 23, 2010, 7:37 AM

Post #17 of 40 (21569 views)

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Re: [donemry] Texas Border Crossing

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In Reply To
I don't want to project a polyanna attitude toward the risk of traveling through Mexico. However, one should consider that the highest risk (however you care to quantify it) is in the border area. That exposure, in time, is about an hour. The risk drops quite dramatically after that on the cuotas. Altahabana's perception is undoubtedly colored by his residencey in Nuevo Laredo, mine is colored by the many trips we have made for Nashville to PV without incident. Driving anywhere has inherent risks.


Your perception and my perception of the risk are really just opinions. I assume you stated the basis for your perception in your response. I have stated the basis for mine on another thread and it involves more than just living in Nuevo Laredo.

Personal experiences in my opinion are not a particularly reliable gauge of the risk, especially if those experiences are infrequent. The situation is much too fluid along the border to make definitive statements about the degree or extent (i.e. time/distance) of the risk posed by the Zeta/Gulf/Military conflict . Safety and security in the northeast Frontera was not really an issue for gringos/ex-pats/paisanos in transit before February of this year when all hell broke loose.


Reefhound


Dec 23, 2010, 8:34 AM

Post #18 of 40 (21553 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Texas Border Crossing

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Risk is both a matter of perception and reality. Risk is often difficult to accurately measure but most importantly how it is evaluated varies significantly depending on circumstances.

If you had heart problems and needed major heart surgery but were told there is a 10% risk that you would die, would you do it? I certainly would for the odds are on my side and it is a necessary risk.

If you had poor eyesight that could be corrected with laser surgery but were told there is a 1% risk that you would lose your sight, would you do it? I certainly would not for even though the odds are even more on my side it is not a necessary risk.

So when we are talking about driving from North Carolina to Chapala or from Tennessee to Pto Vallarta, the reasons and alternatives will play into the risk evaluation. Whether one has strong ties to both locations, family living in both places, lots of belongings to transport, and even one's budget can influence that evaluation.

The reason why I agree with Altahabana that personal experience is not a good reference point is that a 1% risk of a given activity may be considered extremely high relatively speaking yet one could engage in that activity a hundred times and never have anything go wrong. I also think, just my opinion, that engaging in a risky activity often tends to dull one's perception of the risk. Every one of us can probably think of things we have never done because of some perceived risk that others routinely do. Who's to say if we are overblowing the risk or they are blind to it.


DavidHF

Dec 23, 2010, 10:49 AM

Post #19 of 40 (21532 views)

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Re: [Reefhound] Texas Border Crossing

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One's perception IS reality. Consensus reality may differ from one's own. YMMV.


Reefhound


Dec 23, 2010, 11:18 AM

Post #20 of 40 (21522 views)

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Re: [DavidHF] Texas Border Crossing

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One's perception IS reality. Consensus reality may differ from one's own. YMMV.

I'm not sure what you mean. The risk is what it is regardless of one's perception of it. (Unless you believe we shape reality through our thoughts or some such metaphysical phenomena.)

Feeling safe and being safe are two different things. I can be blissfully ignorant of the risk and feel safe even though I am really at high risk. Or I can believe I am at high risk when I am actually quite safe.

One's perception of risk is real to them though. The peace of mind I get from believing I am safe is real regardless of the actual risk (unless I draw the black bean). And the stress I feel from thinking something is a high risk is quite real even if the risk is low and I'm worrying for naught.


S & C

Dec 25, 2010, 3:53 PM

Post #21 of 40 (21347 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Texas Border Crossing

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I made the drive to Tulum Q Roo about 2 weeks ago and based on info I read on this forum I changed from the Los Indios crossing to Laredo and was glad i did.
We travel with a cat and found that the La Posada hotel in Laredo allows pets. It is so close to the border you can see both bridges and the Migration office from the hotel. When I checked the crowds at the bridges from the hotel window I decided on the old bridge, #1, because it had no one there. The entire routine of crossing and getting my car papers was over in less than 1/2 hour, would have been less but I went at 8 am when the shift was changing so I waited 10 extra minutes. After leaving the parking lot i was on the bypass for N. L and on my way. I hit San Luis Potosi by 4 pm.
On the second day we found the new Arco Norte Cuota that starts out toward Tula and ends by the Puebla airport. I hear this is only a year old and skirts Mexico City by about 100 Km. Coming out of the fog in the mountains by Orizaba was an interesting and beautiful drive, (Except for the trucks that passed while decending with smoking rear brakes).
We usually also stay at the Hilton in Villahermosa because they also allow pets but unfortunatley we hit the Cuota toward Acayucan when it was closed by the police and had to take the back roads with all the trucks and topes.

This route did have more toll roads than the coast route but the drive was much, much better.
There have also been a lot of stories of the Tampico police constantly ripping off tourists. Although I was never stopped i do know of several that were. A Canadian neighbor of mine was stopped 4 times in Tampico just a few days before I came down this year. He pulls a 5th wheel trailer and felt like a sitting duck. He said at one point when he refused to shell out a bribe the officer put his hand on his weapon as if he was about to pull it. At another second stop in Tampico they tried to say he needed to buy a bicycle permit for the 2 bikes he had with him.
This guy wants no parts of the gulf route anymore.
Stan


johninpuntamita

Dec 25, 2010, 4:32 PM

Post #22 of 40 (21332 views)

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Re: [S & C] Texas Border Crossing

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Can you use Bridge #1 to cross from Nuevo Laredo to Laredo? We've always used #2, but it's always packed.


S & C

Dec 26, 2010, 6:53 AM

Post #23 of 40 (21265 views)

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Re: [johninpuntamita] Texas Border Crossing

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Yes very easily. Bridge #2 is called the new bridge and it connects directly with I-35 to San Antonio. The old bridge, #1, is about 6 blocks west of #2 and is less travelled. I mentioned staying at the hotel La Posada and I also asked the staf which would be better and they said the old bridge has less traffic on it.
From La Posada you can see both and everytime I looked i saw a lot more traffic on the new bridge. The morning I crossed it looked like at least 20 in line on the new bridge and nothing on the old. When I crossed there was one car in the declare line and nothing else.
If you check out google earth you can see both bridges and the Migration building in between both of them. You can also see the easy access to the NL bypass on the right side.
Stan


lwmosher

Dec 26, 2010, 7:44 AM

Post #24 of 40 (21252 views)

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Re: [S & C] Texas Border Crossing

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Could someone explaint the NL Bypass? Is that the road that follows the border to the east of NL and then turns south and west to bypass the city and connect with the toll road in the direction of Monterey and Saltillo ?


S & C

Dec 26, 2010, 12:54 PM

Post #25 of 40 (21216 views)

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Re: [lwmosher] Texas Border Crossing

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It probably is not officially called a by-pass but that's what it does.
When you come out of the Migration parking lot you go right. After to short bit there is a red light where you are actually parallel to the highway. You cross the highway and bear left and it by-passes the town and ends up being Mx 85.
I have a Sanborn's map showing the bridges and the road I'm speaking of but don't know how to attach it to this message.
It shows 85D going left and right from the Migration lot. If you go left it appears to go more through town but going right takes you around the city onto 85 south
Stan
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