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Wed, May 30th - 7:06PM

Traveling through Mexico

To travel by road through Mexico can to say the least, be an adventure on its own. Three years ago My wife and I traveled from Monterrey to Cancun by car.

We decided to travel by the gulf route, which I understand is the main route the North Americans choose from east of Laredo to the coast. I really did not know what to expect as my wife is a bit of an alarmist and I had thoughts ranging from driving on dirt tracks (proved true in a few places) to being attacked by armed gangs or having numerous accidents (nearly one or two ! )

We drove to join the coast at Tampico. Like many dock areas is was a congested mess and took us a good hour to be on our way again. We tried wherever possible to take the coast roads and in general they were in reasonably good condition. We had a few scary moments as the roads have no curb stones and the very hot weather had caused the roads to crack and subside. There were times when we were almost driving at a 45 ° angle. Our first stop was Tuxpan which was full of holiday makers, we were worried about getting somewhere to sleep but eventually found a small hotel by the sea.

The next day we continued to wards Vera cruz and found a side road (hadn't got a clue where we were heading ) but by good fortune led us to a toll road, that was in theory not open, however (it was) we had a brand spanking new toll road all to ourselves , sheer bliss.

Now two things that I will always remember happened in the state of Vera cruz. I have traveled to many countries and seen some beautiful sights, but for sheer colour Vera cruz is out of this world!! The vegetation, the people, the houses, just everything was colour at its magnificent best. For countryside artists it must be paradise. As we drove out to the coast again we arrived at a stretch of coast called the Costa Esmeralda. I fell in love with this place and this is where I want to spend my eventual retirement. The beaches compared to anything the Caribbean has to offer, houses just 200 feet from the sea, the sand was whiter than white. This was the first evidence I had seen of this route being used by the N Americans as there were a lot of RV rest parks (in fact the first I had seen)

We then went on to CD Carmen. The approach to this city was 2 mile bridge of what appeared to be a gigantic ocean (OK so I exaggerate) but a wonderful scenic route. Unfortunately the city was having a very,very bad time as the whole sewer infrastructure had collapsed and I will not begin to describe the smell and sights.

After that began the last part of our journey to Yucatan (one more night stop at the beautiful city of Merida) and then on to Cancun.

Cancun is Cancun, a mixture of different nationalities from all over the world. Sadly our stay in Cancun coincided with 10% of the whole annual national rainfall. My sister in law (who lives in Cancun swears that whenever I visit there the same thing happens again and again. So far on my 3 visits I have been on the verge of (2) 5 rated hurricanes and now this latest episode. At least I cannot be blamed for the one last year which actually hit Cancun as I was in Monterrey!! Although weirdly the same hurricane veered north and hit Monterrey (the first one in 20 years) so maybe, just maybe there is a strange coincidence :-(

The highlights of our journey back was the extremely high climb from Cordoba to Mexico city. At the bottom we where in shorts, at the top we were in overcoats!!

Has anybody reading this driven through Mexico city ? if so how are your nerves ?  3 years later and I still have nightmares . I then drove for 19 hours solid through light rain, heavier rain and then sheer horrific thunderstorms. I kid you not that lightning was hitting the ground 50 feet from us. It was black as black can be an my only way of navigating was to follow the traffic (mainly lorries) but they were going to fast and often it was driving blind.

We arrived home exhausted, shattered and miraculously alive but on reflection 'was it worth it ? the answer is a resounding YES.

Mexico is a conundrum, a potentially very rich country with some extreme poverty. I passed through a jungle, and a red flag tied to a tree was the only sign that someone livid just there 'in the jungle' For people traveling through you will see very good toll roads and some bad tracks, sometimes one following into the other. I personally would never drive at night (as a stranger) I prefer to see the hole or topjes (sleeping policeman)

Points of interest: Vera cruz, a paradise of colours, Costa Esmeralda, I want it all for myself so please give it a miss :-)   Cancun is Cancun . As an aside there was a bridge in Vera cruz that seemed to be heading for the heavens, it just went up and up and up with no visible sign of what was on the other side. Just like a roller coater.

I do tend to go a bit so my apologizes.

buena suerte


Comment (6)

Mon, May 14th - 2:23PM


As I have said with my previous posting, I will continue with Mexico. In general I will be using references to various parts ,but will also give my impression as a foreigner here.

I live in Monterrey which is the third largest city in Mexico, and was until recently the safest city in the country.  Unfortunately things are not quite as they used to be at the moment .

The city in the mountains is a very common name for Monterrey, also quoted as the engine room of Mexico. The link above is from wikipedia and is very informative for those who have the time or interest to read it.

If I were asked to use two words that would conjure my image of Mexico, they would be 'Fiesta' and 'Mañana'  The Mexicans love their fiestas, and quite often of a weekend I could lay awake all night listening to music and dancing somewhere. Here in Monterrey the temperature can become extremely hot, and adults and kids will stay up very late, quite often just sitting outside to keep cool (and of course the BBQ)

I read an article some years ago that strangers should really understand about the word 'mañana'. Of course the literal meaning is tomorrow BUT it would be easier to understand if we interpreted the meaning as 'not today' . I must stress that this is not meant as an insult but as a way of life. It really annoyed me at first but now I have got used to it.

In England I lived in Cumbria which I believe is on record as the wettest county in England (it certainly felt like it) but now for approx 10 months of the year I wake up  in the morning with the sun lighting up the bedroom. (how we suffer)

ta ra

Comment (5)

Fri, May 11th - 6:41AM

Friendship has no boundaries

Many years ago my brother in law invited my wife and I out for a spin in his new car. We traveled about 10 miles, and I suggested that we go on to the nearest big town (about another 5 miles away) The look on his face was truly amazing, his words even more so "but I have never been that far, what if we get lost, what are the people like"  I kid you not.

At the age of 13, I left home to join a naval college, and at 16 started to travel to the many far flung corners of the world. Before we arrived at the various countries that we visited, I tried to imagine what the port or city and the population would be like. I was fascinated by what I had read and what in fact became reality. Almost without exception the local population welcomed us with warmth and friendship. Sign language was often the way of communicating and worked very well. The locals were always full of questions and after you got to know them the general expression was 'my home is your home ' and they were full of pride to show us their country.

Sadly now days the headline news is often bad news, and I suspect that far to frequently peoples imagination or perception of other countries stretches no further than the media they have in front of them.

I now live in Mexico, and,  for whatever reason in my schooldays we were taught very little about Latin America. My knowledge of Mexic was 1. The three people sat under a tree with their huge sombreros drinking tequila. 2. The Alamo 3. The constant news of illegal immigration 4.Corruption. That was almost my total knowledge!!

After 7 years here now I know a lot more.To say that the Mexican people have had a very turbulent history is a bit of an understatement, but they are a very proud and colorful race and actually share 62 different languages.

For me the Internet ranks alongside one of the greatest achievements in my lifetime. I am sure that whatever question you have, wherever you want to visit, whoever you want to contact, in fact almost anything can be found on the 'net'.

In creating my new website  I am hoping that real people from all over the world will join and show of their countries and cultures, post photos or videos for us all to enjoy (and learn) and maybe above all make lasting friendships.

Because I live in Mexico my future blogs will be about this beautiful country and try to give an idea of life here.

Comment (1)

May 2007
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