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jsandrock

Jun 13, 2006, 6:11 AM

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Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Greetings everyone -- I could surely use some advice from you seasoned Mex travelers!

We’re driving from Santa Fe to Ajijic in a couple of weeks – are all set to go but would love some clearer directions from any of you guys who have driven the Zacatecas - Aguascalientes - eastern route into Guadalajara. We’ve been warned off the dreaded 54, and know to come the other way, but looking at my map it looks like a rat’s nest of different roads. Which one do we stay ON and do we go through San Juan de los Lagos? Someone also told me there is a new cuota somewhere in there which I am not sure my map is showing. It seems to me what we are supposed to do is get back on 45 somehow, exiting Zacatecas, heading east for awhile, then go through (around? Is there a perifico?) Aguascalientes. Then further south till somehow Mex 45 crosses Mex 80 just before Leon. (I am hoping there is some sort of interchange otherwise we would end up in beautiful downtown Leon). If we get onto Mex 80 from Mex 45 that looks like a pretty snazzy road that would take us toward Tonala and the southern end of Guad and hence easy Ajijic access.

Somewhere on these posts I’ve read that this route or something like it is the easiest and most stress-free even though it looks longer on the map – we’re definitely up for easy and stress- free! Am I (literally and figuratively) on the right track here?? This is the only part of the journey that I’m having trouble figuring out! Is there a simpler way to do this that I am missing?

Many thanks –
jsandrock



mkdutch

Jun 13, 2006, 8:08 AM

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Haven't driven that way for a long time, but you are wise to avoid the 54 mountain stretch...although the vistas are breath-taking. It's kinda like Wyoming without the guard rails and road shoulders...8^).

Are you a member of AAA, or have a friend who is that would do you a favor? Their Trip-Tix are a great way to navigate the roads for a first-time traveler.

Also, if you have a map (or other) store in town that stocks the Guia Roja maps, and can find an up-to-date version, they are excellent - but take a little study to familiarize yourself with them. Buena Suerte y Viaje.


bdudge

Jun 13, 2006, 9:45 AM

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Re: [mkdutch] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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We are in the same situation. I have several maps but it isn't clear just what the safest, fastest route is. Each one looks a little different, and like he said, you can't tell what the road is really like just by looking at the map. As I recall two gals recently came through Laredo and it was a breeze from there on. If they read this, or anyone else who has recently done it, please advice...would be much appreciated. Thanks ahead. Barbara
Barbara


up2now

Jun 13, 2006, 10:29 AM

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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This thread is a perfectly timed subject for me. I expect to leave RI on June 29th w/ a car full of 4 cats and 2 dogs and whatever else I can cram in. My AAA TripTix has an orange line on Rt 54. Thank you for the hazard reminder, I will try to work around it. And, AAA has me going through Laredo to McAllen because it may be less busy and quicker. True? I,m hoping to minimize stand around time because of the pets. And, I don't expect to get from the border to Chapala in one day. If my angels ( I don't mean pets) are still speaking to each other, I might make it in 2. Does anyone have suggestions for pet friendly inns along the way either from Laredo or McAllen? Please, please. I'm hoping this trip will not be my best/worst lifetime experience. Thank you for any and all info offered. Jan


mkdutch

Jun 13, 2006, 11:08 AM

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Re: [up2now] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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(smile)...Jan! Time to stop and take a deep breath...if you think of this trip as an ordeal, with craters in the road, banditos around every corner, and InnKeepers that are out front to shoot any dogs that may venture on their property, Guess What? That's probably what will happen to you...8^).

OTOH, if you think of this trip as an adventure, with no problems on the road, where you will meet a number of friendly, interesting people who may even happen to love pets, Guess What?

Your actual trip may fall somewhere in between. Regardless, if you keep an open mind, are friendly and respectful of your host country's residents, and above all, patient (especially at the border crossings, which tend to try many Type A personalities), you will look back on your trip with fond memories.

As a pet/animal lover, the biggest adjustment you will probably have to make is allowing for the cultural difference in the way animals(all of them, from Emus to Elephants, and including cats & dogs) are not valued by Mexicans (in general) as they are NOB. You don't need to change your own value system, just recognize that the country you are now in treats animals differently. Conversely, BTW, Mexicans treat humans (especially guests) - (gringos) - a heck of a lot better than gringos treat each other - and Mexicans - in the USA.

Hope you get some specific info about boarding your pets. If not, just come, and I'm sure you will be guided to a nice place to stay if the first one you pick doesn't accept pets. You might want to stay away from a Hilton in downtown Monterrey, however....=^..^=.


Gwynne


Jun 13, 2006, 2:31 PM

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Re: [up2now] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Jan,
Please keep in mind that it is now over 100 degrees in Laredo and McAllen and will be worse in the coming weeks. Please be VERY careful about leaving the animals in the car while you go inside to get all your paperwork. That exercise can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. If you leave the car locked and running, check on it frequently to make sure it doesn't overheat and shut down.
G


skelleyhoutex

Jun 13, 2006, 2:54 PM

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Re: [Gwynne] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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We came through Laredo with a dog and a cat. The key is to be at the border when they open which is 8:00 a.m. If your animals are in crates, they could be taken out of the car so they will not get too hot. It will take about half an hour the first time you cross the border (if you have the paperwork together. However, why are you going to McAllen? It is faster and just as safe to take the road to Laredo ouy of San Antonio and bypass the rest of the Texas border which is very crowded - highways, too. From the border, it is three 6 hour days to Ajijic. If you can cram that into two DAYLIGHT days, you can make it but there is one bad stretch outside of San Luis Potosi over to Lagos de Moreno that is slow - it is a two lane road and if you get behind a truck, there is not much you can do. Las Palmas in Matehuala used to take pets but does not now. We did a don't ask, don't tell and booked a room way in the back. With as many animals as you have, I am not sure that is possible. I worried a lot about our pets before we left, but they survived just fine. Have a nice drive!!!!!


RickS


Jun 13, 2006, 5:11 PM

Post #8 of 23 (2612 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Actually, the road(s) you are talking about are not all that hard to follow once you are there, but depending on how old your map may be, it does look 'challenging'. But you'll be fine, I think, with these 'helpers'.

The first helper is courtesy of Mexconnect poster "jerezano", who told us a while back about a new toll-road that bypasses Zacatecas going south towards Aguascalientes. In his words:

"There is a new bypass (cuota) of Zacatecas City if you are coming south from Torreón thru Fresnillo. Just on the the Zacatecas side of Fresnillo in the City of Calera after you pass the airport exit there is an exit to the new cuota. It will be labelled Aguascalientes. There will be two toll booths of about $30 pesos each one at Morelos. Zac, and the other after you cross over the Zacatecas-Aguascalientes libre. This way you miss the horrible grades on the Zacatecas periferico, and all the truck traffic on the Zac-aguas libre."


So, my understanding from his post (I've driven that route before but without the nice new bypass tollroad) is that you will end up south of Zacatecas on the road to Aguas. And that road is also a toll-road. Here is what I wrote about it a couple of years ago:

"There is indeed a cuota south of Zacatecas towards Aguascalentes, Hiway 45. It is a 2-lane road not a 4-lane, but was very wide and easy to maintain 65+ mph. I found that trucks pulled over to the right to let me pass and I hardly had to get into the on-coming lane at all. The remainder of the road to Aguas after this brand new piece is also 2-lane, but not as new. It too is easy and fast even though it is 2-lane.

You also asked if there is a periferico around Aguascalientes, and there is one of sorts and I recommend you take it. When I came that way a couple of years ago, it was hard to spot, so I wrote this:

"My recommendation is to skirt Aguascalientes if you are not wishing to stay and see the city. There is a periferico of sorts around east of the City named Blvd. Siglo XXI (but it still has many signal lights and was pretty slow going at times). I am told that this is much faster than going straight through the City. The periferico was not signed very well coming in from Zacatecas. But watch for a stop light on the highway coming into the outskirts of Aguas. The by-pass goes to the east/left on Blvd. Siglo XXI (and the road to Jesus Maria goes to the right/west here if that helps you recognize the intersection). A 'hawker' at the signal light told us that this was the by-pass road, otherwise we would have missed it."

Stay on the periferico around the eastern edge of Aguas. Begin watching for the cuota going south of Aguascalientes (off of the periferico). You will want to follow the signs to Toll Road 45 and Mexico (City). About 50 km south on cuota 45, there will be a toll-both. There you can take a short-cut thru the village of Santa Maria Transpontina over to the cuota 80 going to Guadlajara. As I recall the short-cut was marked to Guadalajara. Or you can stay on 45 and it will intersect with 80 and you'll just double-back to where the short-cut will take you saving 30-40 km. Either way will work. After you get on 80, it is a good ride on into Guadalajara, coming in on the east around Tonola. From there just follow the road signs to Chapala/Airport.

If you don't already have one, I highly recommend you purchase a Mexico map. The 'best' one is 2006 Guia Roji, Por las Carreteras de Mexico. They are available at WalMarts or Office Depot in Mexico and you can also get one on Amazon for a lot more money.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip.

(This post was edited by RickS on Jun 13, 2006, 6:56 PM)


jsandrock

Jun 13, 2006, 7:00 PM

Post #9 of 23 (2592 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Thanks all for your responses – you guys are great!

We are indeed members of AAA and have in our posession the famous Trip-tik which has a nice highlighted orange stripe routing us into GDL right through Zacatecas and thence straight down 54!!! So I figured the better part of valor was to put a further query up on the forum! But I do have the Trip-tik map which shows the other route even though it isn’t highlighted, and it will definitely be a help. And I have just ordered the Guia Roji map from Amazon, and it should be here in a few days, so that will be a huge help – I opted for the "more money but it will be with you in the car when you need it most" approach, and just went ahead and ordered it.

I was so glad to read the posts and the responses on travel with pets, because this trip is a "dry run" for us. We’ve rented a house in Ajijic for a month as a "trial balloon" and if all goes well the NEXT time we do this if the real estate gods are willing, we’ll be coming down with OUR two cats in carriers for the big permanent move for retirement. So the pet travel information is extremely helpful to us even though we aren’t quite there yet.

I am sure we will figure this out fine and we ARE seeing it as an adventure – Q.E.D. – I figured we’d stay overnight in Zacatecas and then when I read a bit more about it online, it seemed like such a neat town that my husband and I decided to splurge and stay two nights, give ourselves a bit of a break from the driving, and prowl around the town a bit! It sounds like you have to walk everywhere there and that will unkink the kinks in our backs from two days’ driving. Then we can tackle the last leg into GDL full of you-know-what and vinegar.
Thanks again for all your help – further suggestions & advice definitely welcome!

hasta pronto en Ajijic --- jsandrock


Rolly


Jun 13, 2006, 7:33 PM

Post #10 of 23 (2586 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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It has already been mentioned that 54 south of Zacatecas is a difficult mountain road, but just as bad is the fact that it leads you into GDL on the north side while you want to be on the south side. The poorly marked trip across GDL is at least as bad as the mountain road -- for different reasons, of course.

The route from Z through Ags is ever so much better.

A couple of nights in Z is a glorious idea.

Rolly Pirate


jsandrock

Jun 13, 2006, 9:08 PM

Post #11 of 23 (2577 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Many thanks, Rolly and all!

Do you all think Cd. Camargo to Zacatecas, which by my calculations is about 620 km, (on the aforementioned AAA map) is a reasonable trek for two quasi-viejitos? I am recalling my old days of driving from L.A. to San Francisco which also was 400-something miles and we were not unreasonably fried when we finished that drive but on the other hand I was twentysomething!

Cd. Camargo has a nice-sounding hotel -- Santa Fe -- that sounded safe, not too expensive, (even has a pool which I'll be ready for after a day of driving through Chihuahua!) and a good first landing spot after we cross the border at Santa Teresa bright and early in the morning. It has a website and it seemed like one could actually make reservations fairly easily --

Anyone know anything about this hotel and/or have any of you stayed there?

mil gracias

Jillian


RickS


Jun 14, 2006, 8:57 AM

Post #12 of 23 (2544 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Camargo to Zacatecas is a completely doable trip for one day! You will be traveling on a 4-lane toll road most of the way and the part that isn't 4-lane (Cuencame to Rio Grand) is a straight, wide 2-lane road. Also, you will find that there is not much traffic on the cuotas so driving them is more boring than tedious. You'll only have to stop for toll booths and occasional fuel. You'll be glad you decided to see Zacatecas City!

I can't help you about staying in Camargo but IF you have the time and want to get a bit farther down the road, the town of Jimenez is about 40 miles past Camargo AND there is a great motel there, Las Pampas (011-52-629 542-1041, Spanish only). I've stayed there several times and it always gets good reviews on the Forum. It is very secure, the rooms are large it has an on-site restaurant that is pretty good. It's on the left as you come into town on the north side, just across the bridge. In December it was $500 mp... will probably be less in the summer.


jsandrock

Jun 14, 2006, 4:37 PM

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Re: [RickS] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Thanks one and all! Sounds like Las Pampas is our place! I can't wait -- we are just like little kids, can't WAIT to get on the road and get back to Mexico!
We are going to be a lot more relaxed on this trip thanks to all your good advice!

Ajijic or Bust!!!!

Jillian


Georgia


Jun 15, 2006, 7:08 AM

Post #14 of 23 (2467 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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I don't know why anyone who wants a quick, easy route to Ajijic would take the route suggested, but I guess it's a personal choice. We usually go through Matehuala, to San Luis Potosi bypass, Ojuelos, San Juan de los Lagos, Lagos de Moreno, to Guad, to Lakeside.

And by the way, for a quick easy passage through aduana/imigracion take the Colombia Solidarity Bridge. Much quicker. Longer in miles, usually shorter in time, especially if you need to stop for a vehicle importation permit. Then head for the road to Monterrey. It picks up the Laredo-Monterrey road just above the second aduana checkpoint.


RickS


Jun 15, 2006, 10:50 AM

Post #15 of 23 (2449 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Georgia, maybe I am missing something, but jsandrock is coming to Ajijic from Santa Fe N.M. The route suggested is almost a straight shot south from there, through El Paso/Juarez, Chihuahua, "Rollyville" and Zacatecas down to Guadalajara and Lakeside... and it is 99% cuota. Laredo is at almost the same latitude as Mexico City, east of Guadalajara, so I can't see her going that far 'out of the way', only to double back to Lakeside.

Some people used to say, "stay in the US as long as you can before coming into Mexico". But I just don't think that is the case today except for special circumstances. Esperanza recently posted that she came from Albuquerque N.M. to Guadalajara but went to Eagle Pass Texas to cross and then down through Matehuala. But her reasoning was related to traveling with 3 cats and a dog and finding lodging to accommodate them. jsandrock is not traveling with pets (this time) and also speaks Spanish. I'd take the route through Chihuahua every time. I've driven that route and I've driven through west Texas. In the summer. One is not held in higher esteem than the other, believe me!


Georgia


Jun 15, 2006, 11:09 AM

Post #16 of 23 (2446 views)

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Re: [RickS] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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I guess I missed that point when the original post referred to the "eastern" route. I thought there was some need to make a digression east sooner than the poster needs to.


sfmacaws


Jun 15, 2006, 12:10 PM

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Re: [RickS] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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We came down through Chihuahua last fall, crossed just south of Deming NM. I second that Chihuahua is very much like W Texas, not a lot of changes in the scenery but the road's good. We stopped and went out to Mata Ortiz to see what is considered to be the finest pottery made in Mexico. Very beautiful, not cheap but excellent design and workmanship. I bought a small piece and admired the picture of Laura Bush talking to the owner's wife. Just outside Nuevas Casas Grandes, it's a worthwhile side trip if you like pottery. http://www.mataortiz.com/


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




jsandrock

Jun 15, 2006, 8:49 PM

Post #18 of 23 (2402 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Hi Georgia and all -- We are indeed heading straight down from Santa Fe so it has always seemed to us like the easiest thing was to blast through Santa Teresa, down through Chihuahua, and on to Guad. But maybe I wasn't clear enough when I used the term "eastern route" -- what I meant was the last leg from Zacatecas to Guad, going the "eastern" and possibly more roundabout way but avoiding the apparently-straighter-on-the-map but reputedly pretty scary 54, which runs to the west of the Aguascalientes route. In spite of all that, we are greatly reassured by all of you who have done this a zillion times and tell us not to be worried! I think after we've done it once or twice and are "broken in" it won't be such a big deal! We are planning to just relax and have a good time and hope all goes uneventfully.

The pet thing does seem worrisome -- if hotels that "used to accept" dogs and cats now no longer do -- I guess you can try to fly them in but that is not without risks too! We will watch for posts from folks that are dealing with that as we get closer to dealing with getting our kitties down there.

Anyway thanks again for all your help and good counsel --we made reservations at Las Pampas for the first night, our Big Treat at Quinta Real in Zacatecas and then -- Ajijic or Bust after that! We are already trying to decide where we will have dinner our first night back in Ajijic.

Mil gracias ---

Jillian


dleach

Jun 16, 2006, 1:22 PM

Post #19 of 23 (2353 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Skelleyhoutex mentioned that the border at Laredo isn't open until 8:00am.

I thought it was open 24 hours a day.

Which is correct?

Thanks

David


Rolly


Jun 16, 2006, 2:17 PM

Post #20 of 23 (2346 views)

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Re: [dleach] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Two of Laredo's three bridges are open 24/7.

Look here http://apps.cbp.gov/bwt/ for wait time information and open hours.

Rolly Pirate


(This post was edited by Rolly on Jun 16, 2006, 2:24 PM)


song_of_joy

Jun 16, 2006, 5:46 PM

Post #21 of 23 (2330 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Once more, thanks, Rolly. You continue to amaze me. (You're a Mexconnect treasure!)


dleach

Jun 16, 2006, 6:54 PM

Post #22 of 23 (2321 views)

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Re: [song_of_joy] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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Thanks Rolly.
It's saved on my Favorites.
I appreciate it.
David


kittythegm

Jun 22, 2006, 10:49 AM

Post #23 of 23 (2248 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Ajijic via Zacatecas and Aguascalientes route

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We just did the trip - roundtrip from ABQ to Lake Chapala in 10 days. Kept track of most all details and will try to post by this weekend for future reference.

Did just do a post on Chapala.com under chinagringo with some info!
 
 
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