After spending a few days in San Miguel de Allende, making new friends, drinking entirely too much, and mentally preparing for our triumphant return to The States, we decided it was time. Pointing the Jeep towards the border, we reluctantly made our way north.
We spent our last night in Mexico camped in a hotel parking lot at Las Palmas in Matehuala. It was safe and secure and the weather was nice. We sipped wine and watched the sun set behind the neon signs and palm trees. In the morning, butterflies in our bellies, we made the 6-hour trek to Reynosa / McAllen, TX.
Typically, we have an internal debate about whether to take the “Quota” (toll road – quicker, supposedly safer, less potholes) or the “Libre” (free road – occasional car jacking, lots of potholes, road blocks). Every time that we’re forced to choose, we fear we’ve made the wrong decision. Taking the Quota means missing all the small towns and local flare, but also means we get to where we need to go a lot faster. We were in a hurry to get across the border before dark, and although it costs a small fortune, we stuck to the toll roads. Catching a glimpse of the Libre from the Quota, we could see that it was standstill traffic for miles. For once we both felt confident that we’d made the right decision.
As we approached the border, our stress level was already high; we didn’t want to mess something up and get stuck overnight in a border town, and to add to the stress, for some reason the tires were squeaking like crazy (it was bizarre, every time we turned the wheel it sounded similar to fingers dragging across a balloon, all over town) We were certain it was something bad, until we realized everyone’s tires were doing it. After driving around a bit, trying to figure out where we needed to go, we found the Aduana / Immigration office, gave back our Temporary Vehicle Import Permit and jumped in line to cross the border. Even though we got in the wrong line and were searched pretty thoroughly, it was way less painful than we had anticipated.
Funny side note: The immigration officers on the States side wanted to know what Mexico was like “Was it dangerous?”, “Were you scared?” “How were the roads?” Uh, y’all work at the border. Take a day off and go get a taco or something! Jeez!
As soon as we were back in the states, we felt an instant false sense of security. We were in our own country where we knew the language and understood all the street signs. More than that, we knew that we could just keep driving into the night and we would be okay (something that would absolutely not be okay in Mexico). When you spend months driving only in the daylight, you forget what driving at night feels like. It was warm and slightly humid and we had the radio turned up and the windows down. It felt like being a teenager in the summertime.
After driving for 12 hours in one day, we stopped just outside of Corpus Cristi and treated ourselves to a free Walmart parking lot campsite, a Redbox movie, and a bottle of Rex Goliath Merlot ($5). The next morning, we woke up early and drove another 12 hours, all the way to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Carley has family who own a condo near the beach, and they were nice enough to let us crash there for a bit before returning to real life. We stayed for almost two weeks, further delaying our return to routine. Mostly waiting out the terrible snowy weather in the Midwest, but also taking advantage of having a big comfortable couch to laze around on all day and watch HGTV and Food Network (neither of us have had television for years), every once in a while, it’s nice to turn off your brain. Plus, hot showers! Thanks again, you guys!
[A selection of local beers. #1 reason it's good to be back in the states! Freckle Belly IPA is so good.]
On the night we finally arrived home, after sitting in dead stopped traffic for 4 hours, it was -2 degrees and it had snowed nearly a foot. (So much for waiting out the weather) That was a little over a month ago and, while we have mixed feelings about life, going back to work, and actually having responsibilities, we know one thing for sure: we can’t wait to get back on the road! Right now we are focusing on rehabbing our house with hopes to get it rented as soon as possible so that we can head south again.
[Progress on the house. We've got a long way to go!]
[Demo is not as fun as driving around Mexico, but we're having a good time!]