Dec 27, 2010, 2:11 PM
Post #5 of 13
The weekend before Christmas we drove in my US plated pickup from Hermosillo, Sonora to Tucson, Arizona. We travelled up in the afternoon hours on a Friday.
Re: [SanFranDan] How many times where you stopped?
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We had to stop three times to pay tolls for roads that would not qualify as cattle trails in the USA. And even though I have travelled this same "road" many times and paid these cuotas, neither of us can figure how why we seem to pay before we use the road, on some sections, and then after the fact on others. In both directions I have the distinct impression we are paying for one road segment too many. Ni modo. I just wish I could use some of that money to get the fillings in my teeth fixed that have rattled loose on those miserable excuses for roads.
We stopped at the large military check point about 100km north of Hermosillo and were waived through after explaining to a soldier from the south of Mexico why an old gringo was living in a hell-hole like Hermosillo. I am sure it just a matter of personal curiosity for him, perhaps envy, as he took notice of my much younger Mexican partner.
Then at what they call the Km21 Checkpoint around here I stopped to check out with INM on my FM2. Fortunately this part of Sonora is a "Free Zone" and as long as I stay within it with my US plated vehicle, I do not need a Mexican vehicle permit, so there is no messing around with that. Just the check out with INM.
Then the border crossing.
Maybe twenty miles north of the border, on US Interstate 19 is another stop for a Homeland Security check. Here the US officials, always Hispanic, are equally curious why I am travelling with this young Mexican man (not all that young...37) and who he is to me, how I know him, how long have I known him. One of these days I am going to spell out for them exactly how well I know him. Just to see their reaction.
It is essentially the same going back, except the Homeland Security check is right at the US/Mexico border. Other people I know in these parts have reported very lengthy backups and waits there, but I have always been lucky and never seen more than 5-6 cars ahead of me. They are also very nosey about my travelling companion, perhaps more so here than at the check going north. Here I am repatriating a Mexican out of the USA back into Mexico and they are harrassing me with 64 questions about how well I know him. Ni modo.
A stop and a hefty cuota for about 10 km of turnpike.
At the actual border crossing I get a red light at the first Mexican aduana check point. I say first, because there is another one at Km21. I pull into a slot to get the goodie-laden pickup inspected by two female aduana officers. I have at least $300 in various purchases from Sears, WalMart, Safeway, Costco, etc. Mostly food. No problema. Off we go.
We then stop at Km21 so I can check back in with INM.
Then another aduana gaunlet...green light.
Another small and reasonable cuota for a hundred kilometers of highway. Why do those 100 km cost 20 pesos and the 10 km up near the border cost 60 pesos? Muy raro.
There are signs in a couple of different places announcing an upcoming military inspection point that never materializes.
And the final 60 peso cuota to pay at Hermosillo for 0 km of highway use...ah, Mexico, you boggle the mind.
And none of this includes innumerable topes where one almost has to stop because they are so high, you have to downshift to climb them. Vendors milling all around, in and out of the lanes, snooping into the bed of the truck for something valuable looking to snag.
The trip of about 240 miles, without the border crossing which can take anywhere from one to three hours, in my experience, takes about six hours. That is an average of about 40 miles per hour on turnpikes and that is when there are no other complications, like trucks blocking the auto lanes into the various check points and border crossing, and no lines at all in the INM office or in the aduana inspection lanes when a red light occurs.