First Impressions of Mexico
As has happened many times in my life, prior impressions of a place were significantly different than reality. I learned that lesson once again when I crossed into Mexico.
The border crossing at Agua Prieta was fast and professionally handled by the staff on the Mexican side. They spoke English, recognizing my Spanish was so limited. In total it didn’t take more than 45 minutes for both of us to get our temporary visas and permits to ride our motorcycles in the country. The only unusual or special thing we had do was pay a deposit of $400 dollars for each bike, which we will get back when we exit Mexico at the Guatemalan border. That was handled with a credit card and will be refunded to it once we leave Mexico.
After the crossing we headed southeast out of Agua Prieta to Chihuahua on Highway 2. This is where another thing became apparent. Northern Mexico is filled with vast stretches of open country where there isn’t a house, village or ranchero for miles. Somehow I had gotten the false impression that Northern Mexico was far more populated. Instead it is much like some sections of the western United States with small towns separated from each other by 30-50 miles of open space.
The roads we took to Chihuahua were good. Much better than I expected. Also the truck drivers, and there are a lot of big rig trucks in Mexico, were super courteous; signaling when it was clear and pulling onto the shoulder to allow us room to pass.
After a long day of riding, we made it to Edgar’s house in Chihuahua where he had a delicious meal of pasta and sauce waiting for us. Edgar, who is an anthropologist, gave us an overview of his city and some great advice about the routes to take as we head south. He also pointed to the best place to cross the border into Guatemala. After a restful night’s sleep, Edgar gave us directions to the nearest Starbucks. Yes, there are Starbucks in all of the major cities in Mexico.
Although we got out of Chihuahua without difficulty, we soon got lost and found ourselves heading west to “who knows where”. I blamed the routing mistake on faulty GPS instructions, however Omar said it was my fault. After a missed turn or two, we finally were on our way to Hildago del Parral and then onto Torreon. The roads on this section were much like you would find in the USA, so we were able to travel at 65-70 miles per hours pretty consistently. In Parral we gassed up and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant located in the shopping district of the City. Omar will post some details about the owner of the restaurant who was very kind and also interested in our trip.
Two hundred more miles and we were in Torreon, our destination for the day. There we stayed with Paulina and her mother Claudia. They have a lovely home with a safe place to park our motorcycles. Over a late dinner we chatted about Torreon, and how Pauline became interested in CouchSurfing. Her profile on the CouchSurfing site says it all, she loves to meet people and share experiences. The next morning, we met several other members of Paulina’s family who were just as welcoming as she. On a white board in the room where we slept Paulina had written “Buenvenidos”. And that is exactly how she and her family made us feel during our stay.
After leaving Paulina's place we headed to a local carwash to clean 2,500 miles of bugs and grime off our bikes. Although they typically don't wash motorcycles, the people at the carwash were very accommodating. With clean bikes we were ready for another day exploring Mexico.
As you can tell, the people we have met along the way have been friendly and very accommodating. That is certainly one of the things you quickly realize about Mexico. There are no strangers in this country.