Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Logbook: Mexico Recon

Mexicorecon1_2After sleeping in a little bit this morning -- which I really needed to do -- I went into the heart of Laredo and made my way to “International Bridge #1” which is the bridge that allows foot traffic into Mexico. My plan today was to recon my border crossing and to arrange my transport onward to Monterey. Frankly, I just wanted to make sure I have everything in order before getting to the border, lest I have to make a “go around” for lack of documentation or whatever. As it turns out, it was all so easy I could have skipped the whole recon. The details: It costs 50 cents (exact change only) to cross the bridge from the US. It’s only a five minute walk across the bridge, but it feels longer when you see the symbolic Rio Grande pass under you. Next, since I will be transiting Mexico, I need to have a tourist permit. That was swiftly and easily gotten by showing my passport to the immigration man and paying a 200 peso (20 dollar) fee. I even got the first stamp in my new passport -- for no additional charge!

Mexicorecon2Now officially in Mexico, I crossed the street to the bus ticket office and said, “Monterey, manana.” I was swiftly rewarded with a ticket and a reassuring, “Manana, uno media, aqui!” And that was it! In less than thirty minutes I’d finished my entire Mexico recon plan, so I decided to just wander around Nuevo Laredo for a while. After saying “No, gracias” to offers of everything you might imagine a single man in Mexico would be offered, I found a cell phone store where I handed my phone to the woman at the counter and simply said “Chip, por favor.” Without breaking stride, she popped a new Telcel chip in my phone, set up the service, handed it back to me and helped me successfully test my new Mexico phone number. With else to do in Nuevo Laredo, I walked back across the bridge -- which only costs 3 pesos (30 cents) -- and made my way back to my hotel room. At this moment, my gear is all packed and I’m ready to have my last night of sleep in the US for a long time. Tomorrow I will cross the border “for real” and continue south on The Voyage of Macgellan!

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