I don’t know why the Grateful Dead have popped into my head. Perhaps it is that this trip feels a bit drug-like. We have only been in the country of Mexico for 4 days but I am completely overstimulated with beauty, color, noise (I am listening to the sound of many dogs barking, roosters crowing, it is a fallacy that roosters only crow at day break. I should know, we have two at home, and crickets chirping). Earlier there was also the sound of lots of guys singing a the top of their lungs. The beauty is so stunning. I have never seen countryside like this. The downside is that I am the worst photographer. I just looked back at my photos and they come no where close to capturing beauty and intensity of what we have seen. Hopefully, however, you will get a sense from the images we have.
The dogs outside are going crazy barking. It is insane. It sounds like there are twenty or so and they just bark all night long. Steven just said, “If only our neighbors were here.” Our neighbors at home have called the cops on us a few times for our dogs barking and our chickens getting into their yard. This place is heaven to me but would be hell to them. It is all relative, ah, but I digress. But no, one more thing about dogs. There is a dog that lives here where we are staying named Pedro. He is the guard dog and patrols the property with the night watchman. He bites. How well does that go over in the states? One more thing on dogs. As some of you know, we came here with our two dogs, Mate’ a pit/husky mix, and Shanti a Pitbull Terrier. Both are rescues and both have their issues. This place has been like doggie rehab. Shanti, is aggressive with other dogs. We just got back from a walk where he was approached, barked at, surrounded, and finally cowed by the many strays (sad, and a whole other story). These doggies have their own sense of territory and survival. I think Both Shanti and Mate’ will come back different dogs.
Okay, enough about dogs, for now anyway. Back to the beginning so to speak. Crossing the border was not like I expected at all. The first checkpoint was on the US side. We crossed at the far end of Brownsville at a new crossing called, Veteran’s Bridge. We approached the US checkpoint nervously and there were three guys standing there. We stopped and one guy started to wave us forward. The other guy said, “You gonna let them go through here?” Yipes! What the heck does that mean. Then the other guy said, “Yeah, I have seen them before.” And that was that, we were through. Crazy.
Next we drove towards the Frontera. Now we were getting nervous again. There was a huge build up to this moment. We had no idea what to expect. All the info we got was more of the “What are you crazy???” variety. Not the, “Here is what to expect when you get to the border.” variety. According to most folks we talked to, we were entering a combination of the Wild West and a war zone. Neither sounds very appealing. We pulled up to the Mexico crossing which was essentially a group of cement buildings, a parking area and a booth that looked like a toll booth with people inside, and a gate. The difference was the drug sniffing dog in the cage and the many many soldiers with biggggg guns. We pulled over Bimbo (have I mentioned the name of our RV? We call her that because she looks like a loaf of bread and Bimbo is the most popular bread company in Mexico) and I got all our paperwork together and went into the building that said Migration. Everyone was really nice and helpful but no one spoke much English at all. Good thing I speak Spanish but I definitely had to ask things to be repeated and explained a lot. We also had to register the vehicles. The whole process took about an hour. It gave me a even greater empathy for people coming to our country and not speaking the language. Scary and intimidating even in the best of situations never mind the worst.
Back outside, I went to change some money. It was there that I met Luis. Luis is Mexican American and was traveling into Mexico with his wife and son to visit her parent in Coatzacoalcos Mx (just so happens that is the place where my good friend Diana grew up.). He said he was nervous crossing even though he had done it a bunch of times. I said, me too! He offered to let us follow him through the checkpoint and into the city and get us going towards our first stop which was originally Ciudad Victoria.
We then told the guy in the toll booth we were ready and he boarded the RV to check us out. We had to take the dogs off or he would have been eaten! Not good when you are trying to make a good impression. Steven stood outside with the dogs and he did a perfunctory search. Next, we had to figure out if we could fit through the narrow area. Steven got out his measuring tape, all the guys were standing around shaking their heads, but Steven said, sure, no problem. I was a bit nervous, remember NJ???
There is so much more that got us to where we are now, Catemaco, Veracruz. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Here are some teaser photos, more later on our adventures, and probably or misadventures.
We are incredibly happy and having an amazing time. I can’t express my emotions completely with words but suffice it to say that I feel like I am home. Traveling through the area where my friend Diana grew up gives me some insight into how homesick she must get living in Boston. This place is not perfect, and it clearly has its’ flaws. However, it is bursting with life. The extremes are very evident everywhere you turn. I am fully aware of how blessed we as a family are. There is something about this trip that is making everything, good and bad brighter and more in focus. Here are some final thoughts that are floating through my head;
Steven has driven through some of the most incredibly difficult countryside in a 37 foot RV with a car in tow! Incredible.
Spanish and English are blending in my head.
Gorditas, enfrijoladas, tacos, tostadas, que rico!
The boys are overcoming shyness and making friends with kids who speak no English.
The boys are squeaky clean! Lots of swimming.
Amazing birds, lizards, creatures everywhere.
Learning how to fix cars and RV with Steven’s help.
Getting lost, and getting on really bad roads.
Where are we going next???