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Roadside Tavern, Eastern outskirts of Tuxpan.

TRAVEL STORIES ON MY TUXPAN, Ver. Mexico PAGE

(graphic image of Grant's Bronco.)
TUXPAN:

Getting there, by car,
from Canada.
(graphic image of Hotel Ignacio.)
TUXPAN:

Staying there, Hotels.
(graphic image of Elliots house.)
TUXPAN:

Friends.
(graphic image of girl.)
TUXPAN:

Experiences.
(graphic image of ,  photo)
TUXPAN:

Returning to Canada.

TUXPAN
* Getting there, by car, from Canada *

In the summer of '99 I worked on a movie called `Scream/I know what you did last summer' In the late fall of '00 I went to see the movie, the name had been changed to `Scary Movie', in Mexico. It is a satirical spoof on the movie 'Halloween'. It was really funny and what made it even funnier was that it had Spanish subtitles.

We left Vancouver, Wed. Morning at 5 AM. Grant was driving his '88 Bronco II. He drove for 4 hours, then stopped for fuel. We split the cost of the fuel and then I drove for 4 hours. Continuing in this vein, we arrived, 48 hours later, in McAllen, South East corner of, Texas.

It seemed that whenever Grant was driving he encountered snow or rain and when I was driving the skies were clear.

Grant is a member of the BCAA so he had arranged for them to supply him with a route map which we followed, though I think I would have driven further East on I40 and then gone South to San Antonio rather than turn South at Albuquerque, N. Mexico to El Paso, Texas. But basically it was six of one and half a dozen of the other.

DAIRY QUEEN.

Middle of nowhere, Texas, USA.
(pic. of Dairy Queen, Texas.)
Grant's Bronco, like my Rally Wagon, never passes a DQ.

Years of driving truck across country have taught me that changes in water, especially from the mountains to the prairies can cause a reaction in your stomach. As per usual I filled a gallon jug with water before leaving the coast. This lasted me until we reached Anthony, New Mexico. I refilled the jug with desert water and that lasted me to Tuxpan, Mexico. However, there was enough of a difference in the water that for the first few days I didn't want to be too far from a banyo (bathroom).

It was cold, windy, and drizzly when we crossed the bridge over the Rio Grande River into Reynoza, Mexico. As Grant lives in Mexico his vehicle was filled with personal possessions. He had made a list of all that he had but when we got to the border check we got a green light which meant that we were to proceed without inspection.

From the border we proceeded to the customs office where we had to register the vehicle. Here I also registered. I showed my passport and gave them 20 P (pesos). They in turn gave me a little piece of paper.

In the past Canadians have not been required to use a passport but it has been rumoured that the new gov't will require it, starting next year.

In downtown Reynoza we stayed at the International Hotel. It is a seedy looking place but the rooms are clean and reasonable. For a room with a large shower, a double and a single bed, and cable TV we paid 300 pesos or $50 Canadian. (At the time of this writing the exchange rate was approximately 6 to 1, I bought, in Vancouver, at the money exchange, 600 P for $103.) In the room was a pitcher and glasses, bulk bottled water was available in the lobby.

The best part of the package was that the parking was across the street where we could watch the car from our window. Not that we needed to, the hotel has a security officer plus two parking valets that control the parking lot all night.

We left Reynoza Sat. Morning at 6 AM. Our map told us to take Hwy. 97. In downtown Reynoza there is a sign that says '97 Matomoros' but further on the signs say '101 Matomoros'. When you get to the edge of town there is a small sign that says 'Monterey, Hwy. 97.' As the first sign had said Matomoros, and we weren«t sure where Monterrey was, I stayed on 101.

Then 101 split and we ended up on a supper freeway that was out in the middle of nowhere and it took us a long time to find a place to turn around. We then continued on the other 101 until we were into Rio Bravo. There we turned around. Back in Reynoza we were given directions to the turn off to San Fernando. I follwed the signs that said Monterey until we hit a fork in the road and then turned East to Ciudad Victoria. This is basically an industrial bypass of the city of Monterrey.

South of Monterrey in the middle of nowhere is a junction. There is no town shown on the map and the only civilization is a service station but here again you turn East, following signs that call for Ciudad Victoria. This took us to another junction which was well marked with signs saying Tampico, Tuxpan, Vera Cruz.

It gets confusing when you go around Victoria as you have to circle well South of the city to cross the river and then come back North before you swing East to go South again. Again this is an industrial bypass and you will avoid city traffic and the city. If you want to see the city continue straight ahead when you reach the intersection North of Tampico.

There is one well marked sign that says Tuxpan, Vera Cruz and then you are on your own. It gets confusing, thinking you are on the wrong road but if you just keep going, slowly, the road is rough, out in the country you will find a big sign that turns you to the left and lets you know you are still on the right road.

South of Reynoza we were worried about fuel so, checking the map, we filled up at the last stops before any long stretches. We needn't have worried, Pemex has opened several new service stations along the highway with several more under construction.

Drivers in Mexico are as idiotic as those in Vancouver and they all think they are in Montreal, spending more time using their horn than their signal lights or brake pedal. They do tend to use their signal lights when they are on the highway. They turn on their left signal light, not to indicate that they are going to change lanes but, to tell you that, in their opinion, it is safe to pass them.

Like in Canada, the police force, in this case the Police Transito (traffic police) are understaffed and underbudgeted, add to this the fact that they don«t have radar and you have traffic that moves at speeds well above the posted limit. However it is not wise for foreigners to exceed the limit because all the local `Police Transito' know that foreigners have money.

This may change in the future as there are rumours that the gov't. is going to rebuild the traffic policing system.

We were never stopped by the `Police Transito' but several miles south of Reynoza there was a general road check which looks for the importation of goods from the U. S. Again Grant had his list ready but the officers only checked that we had registered the car and ourselves as temporary visitors.

We stopped at road blocks three more times during our trip. One was set up by police, not the `Police Transito' but federal police who don«t worry themselves with traffic problems, one was set up by the military, and one by both the police and the military.

When the military are involved the road blocks often include sandbagged gun emplacements with 50 calibre machine guns. The police and the soldiers carry automatic rifles.

At the first road block we were asked to show our papers, at the next two we were waved through as soon as they saw our B. C. license plate.

Stopping two or three times for fuel and food we made good time by obeying the speed limit and crawling over the speed bumps. We also didn«t break any springs in the few sections of highway that haven't been repaired. Basically the highway was pretty good with many sections having been recently repaved and paving taking place in other areas.

Some sections of the highway run for miles through wilderness but other sections go through congested areas of many small towns on the outskirts of larger towns or small cities. To slow the traffic down in these areas the gov't has constructed speed bumps that make the speed bumps in your Safeway parking look like smooth road.

Highway 180 is the main North/South artery along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The highway is solid traffic of busses, cars, and trucks. Many of these vehicles are in a hurry and don't care if they break something by speeding, through the many holes, or over the speed bumps.

When we would slow to crawl, through a hole, many of which are quite deep, or over a speed bump, some of which are wide, some of which are narrow but double, two, close together, some are simply a pipe, or a thick, hemp rope stretched across the road, other traffic would take the opportunity to pass, and they did it at high speed.

Twelve hours later, not counting the hour we lost getting lost in the morning, we arrived in Tuxpan (pronounced Tookspan, and sometimes spelled Tuxpam.).

The way Grant had talked I expected to find a sleepy little town but instead I found a bustling little city of 140,000. Being a Saturday night it was not easy to find a hotel room but eventually, without too much running around I got a room at the Plaza hotel.

(pic. of Grant's Bronco II.)
Grant (on left), Grant's wife Nadia, Nadia's father, Chucho.

The weather was warmer and the rain had stopped so I dropped my jacket and shirt in the hotel and joined the happy throng of Saturday nighters in El Centro, the central plaza.

After the long trip I was too tired to explore more than the main streets but it was still too early to go to bed so I went to the movie, [P30, popcorn, without butter (They don't put butter on their popcorn.) P10.] Not recognizing the name of the movie, I was surprised, when watching it, to learn it was one I had worked on.

This was the last night that it was warm enough to run around in a short sleeve shirt. I will tell you more about my stay in my next three articles, 'Tuxpan, Mexico, staying there' (hotels and accommodation), 'Tuxpan, Mexico, Friends', 'Tuxpan, Mexico, Experiences'.

END

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    * Returning Home. *


    by
    LEE A. WOOD

    Author's note:
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    Omnibus

    (Pic. Mercedes Bus)

    Similar to the bus I rode on but a different company

    Though I was scheduled to stay in Tuxpan for another week I received an e-mail and had to rush home to do some photography for an article about the Christmas lights in Stanley Park. (see Xmas `00)

    I had a busy day rushing about trying to get my laundry done. I had dropped it off first thing in the morning and was told it wouldn't be ready until seven the next evening. I couldn't understand why it would take 30 hours when a week earlier the other laundromat only required three hours. I went back to the laundromat and tried to ask the girl but there was a big language barrier so I went back to my room and got my dictionary.

    With her looking up Spanish words and me looking up English words I finally arranged to have my laundry ready by five that evening. Somewhere in the conversation she pointed out the word `querido', `beloved'. I looked at her and asked, "You love me?" She read it again and blushed, hiding her face beneath her arms.

    After gathering her composure, back in the dictionario, she found the word `quiera', trying to say, "Anytime after 5."

    Bumping into my friend Grant, I wandered the town with him and stopped in at the bus depot to secure my ticket and to confirm my departure time of 7:10 PM.

    Then I stopped by the hardware store to say goodbye to Grant's sister in law, Martha, whom I had met at a family party on Saturday night. I had taken many pictures of the family and wished to sent them copies as Christmas gifts and I needed her to tell me how to spell their names.

    It was very difficult trying to communicate with Martha as she, like most people in Tuxpan, speaks little or no English. Luckily her employer spoke a little and I was able to get the names of all her nieces and nephews.

    A quick stop at the Laundromat to pick up my still damp laundry. The laundry was hanging on a line in the back yard, which explains why it should have taken thirty hours for the process.

    I asked the clerk if she still loved me, "Quireda?' and she started blushing again.

    Back to my room to pack. After a hasty supper of bisteck (beef sliced thinner than steak and grilled like steak) and enchiladas, the closest you will get to a steak dinner in Tuxpan, I headed for the bus.

    As I passed the Laundromat I popped my head in the door and said, ìAdios". Startled, the clerk jumped. I pointed at my back pack made a flying motion with my hand, said, "Aeroplano, Canada, adios". She looked sad as she waved at me.

    The Mercedes Benz bus was supposed to leave at 7:10 but didn't arrive until 7:30. It loaded and left within 5 minutes and went to a tire shop.

    This was an outdoor shop that Grant and I had talked about while driving by it earlier that day. It is basically a roof on poles with a minimum of equipment. The tires are dismantled, patched, and remounted by hand. The fairly large, unpaved, yard sloped down from the street and we had to back up hill into major traffic after the tire was fixed.

    When I got on the bus there was a movie playing and when it was over they didn't play a second one though there was another ten hours before we reached Reynoza. There were few passengers and I had both seats to myself.

    Going into Tampico we crossed a large modern bridge. Along the streets I saw many familiar names; Wal-Mart; Burger King; Pizza Hut; Church's Chicken; Caterpillar; Bandag; and Mercedes Benz.

    Our only passenger stops were both in Tampico. The first, at 11:30, after traveling about 200 Km. was in downtown. Here everyone had to disembark and go into the terminal. They took the bus away and washed the outside of the bus but they didn't clean the smell out of the inside.

    The bus, or at least my area of it smelled of urine and it was not a pleasant trip.

    Tampico is a major bus terminal with large modern facilities and lots of busses arriving and departing.

    Only about half of the passengers reloaded when we were leaving Tampico. A couple of new passengers boarded. On the outskirts of this large metropolis we stopped at a smaller bus stop and picked up one passenger, leaving us less than half full.

    At each bus stop each bus has a security guard during loading. With a wand, he gives every boarding passenger a quick scan for metal objects.

    Washing the bus in Tampico was a waste of time. Within half an hour the windshield was all dirty again as we continued on in the insistent rain.

    Just North of Tampico near Altamira the army had a road block. Immigration officials boarded the bus and inspected each passenger's papers. Agricultural inspectors climbed into the cargo bay and, after a search, removed two or three cases of fruit.

    Just North of Ciudad Victoria we encountered another road block. The officers took a quick look in the cargo bay and had a talk with the driver but didn't come on board.

    The speed limit along most of this narrow, two lane, shoulder less, highway is 100 Km. and the busses make the most of it. Scattered along the way, there are individual homes, or groups of two or three houses, one of which will always be a cantina with a sign advertising beer. In these areas the speed limit reduces to 60 or 40 Km. but the traffic doesn't slow.

    At Las Norias, another road block. An inspector came on board and did a quick poke through the items in the overhead rack but didn't talk to any of the passengers.

    Other inspectors crawled into the storage bay. They took out a cardboard box that was secured with two banding straps and spend quite some time trying to pry their way through the thick cardboard without cutting the metal straps. Finally they ripped a small hole in the lid and satisfied themselves as to the contents.

    The bus then moved ahead a few feet where the driver got out and joined some men standing around a car that had a refreshment container sitting on the trunk. While the driver was given a drink, an inspector came aboard, checked the passenger list, then walked the isle doing a head count.

    About a half hour south of Reynoza, on highway 97, another immigration check. The officer came aboard and asked to see our identities.

    Hwy. 97 is much like roads in Northern Alberta. It is fairly straight, level, with wide shoulders. Like drivers in Alberta, they drive on the shoulders at high speeds while other traffic vies with each other to drive down the center, straddling the center line.

    I don't know how many people get killed doing this but I can't count the number of accidents I have seen as a result of people disobeying the law and driving on the shoulders.

    In Reynoza all the passengers got off but me and I asked the driver about McAllen as I had paid for straight through. He told me to wait. Awhile later another drive came, escorted me to a different bus, and told me to wait.

    After awhile another driver came. I was the only passenger as we went across the bridge, through the morning rush hour, to the American customs. After a quick check of my id and a brief questioning I passed through and reloaded onto the bus which had also gone through a quick inspection.

    The bus driver made light of the line up of traffic at the border crossing. he makes the crossing four or five times a day and often sees the traffic backed up across the bridge and into the downtown Reynoza. He asked me where I was going. I told him I should check in at the airport. That's where he dropped me off.

    At the airport I arranged for a flight for the next day as I had missed Tuesdays flight by about an hour. Which is what I expected. I was happy to get a seat for the next day as my ticket was for the following Monday.

    Talking to a couple of cab drivers I was convinced that the cheap motel the airline ticket person suggested was cheap because it was cheap. They recommended Motel 6 which was twice as much money and about twice as far away. For the $7 taxi fare I thought I would follow there advice.

    Motel 6 is at the junction of 10th St. and the Main freeway (Hwy. 83). It is in a cluster of motels that all advertise rates starting at (US) $39.99 plus tax.

    I got a nice clean room with cable TV (12 channels). They had an outdoor pool, however, the weather was not warm enough for swimming. It was partly cloudy and breezy. So I crawled into a bath and had a long deserved soak.

    From the motel it was a short walk to the main shopping area and I explored a couple of pawnshops. There seemed to be innumerable shops that specialize in gold: bracelets; earrings; necklaces; etc.

    Typical of American towns, the streets are wide, the blocks are long, and the buildings are far apart, which makes it frustrating trying to walk anywhere. You seem to walk forever and never get anywhere. Finally I gave up and went back to a Chinese Smorgasbord that I had seen. 70 dishes for (US) $5.95. Not bad food and well worth the price.

    The proprietress had been to Vancouver many times and was pleased to meet someone that could say hello in her language. (I don't speak other languages but I can say hello and good by in over twenty. It is a great way to make friends with foreigners.) After lunch I crawled into bed and caught up on some of the sleep I didn't get on the bus.

    I don't find it difficult to sleep on busses but it is irritating to be woken by inspectors every time you are asleep.

    Why they kept stopping us I don't know. It doesn't take a lot of intelligence to know that the bus has gone through an inspection shortly after having left the terminal and hasn't stopped anywhere since.

    After my nap I walked under the freeway and explored a large mall. I found a cheap theatre that offered late run movies for US $1.00. However I had seen them all and walked to another Chinese Smorgasbord and had supper. After supper I went back to my room and watched TV for awhile but the channels didn't offer a very good selection so I read a pocket book that I had picked up earlier in the day.

    On Wednesday morning I packed my bags and left the hotel. As I had seen the airport from the end of the mall, when I was browsing the night before, I decided I would save the taxi fare and walk. It was a much shorter walk than I had anticipated and I arrived at the airport much too early. The ticket counter wasn't open yet and I had to wait nearly an hour before I could check in. It was lucky I had stopped in the day before and changed my ticket as there were people waiting stand-by and I might not have gotten a seat.

    We flew out of McAllen on an American Airlines F 100 which has 3 seats on one side and 2 seats on the other side of the isle. I had requested a window seat ahead of the wings so I could take pictures. We passed over San Antonio at 30 K Ft.

    I sat beside a gentleman from McAllen who was in the security business and going to Dallas for a company conference. He pointed out different areas such as the King ranch and the house in Ft. Worth where his daughter lives.

    Dallas International Airport

    (Pic. of airport)

    All the airplanes are `American Airlines', as are the five ahead of us.

    In Dallas I had an hour between planes and we left for Vancouver on a Boeing 757.

    Again I had a window seat but this time I was slightly behind the wing and I had all 3 seats to myself. The plane only being about 1/2 full. I guess nobody wanted to go to Vancouver. Not that I could blame them, I didn't either.

    USA

    (aerial photo)

    Somewhere West of Dallas.

    Until we got to the Rockies there were no clouds, the only clear sky I had seen in nearly two weeks. We flew between Denver and Aspen, which the pilot pointed out, and I looked down on the I 70 that I had driven many times when I was a cross country trucker.

    Flight time was only four hours and we lost sight of the ground, because of cloud, somewhere over Idaho. Once we started descending we were enshrouded in heavy rain and lost all visibility until we were skimming over the surface of the Straight of Georgia to touch down at Richmond.

    Touchdown YVR (Vancouver International)

    (Pic. of Vancouver airport.)

    Rain sweeps off the wing as the plane sweeps down the runway at
    the Vancouver airport.

    Good to be home? No. Despite the poor weather conditions I had encountered I would rather still be in Mexico. But hey, next month Shanghai. That's going to be colder but still an entirely new adventure.

    END

    PS. The photo shoot I rushed home for; I spent the day in the pouring rain taking pictures in the park and only sold one photo. You can see the article BRIGHT NIGHTS and photo(s) in the `Stanley Park' section of my Vancouver page.

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