Mexican Flag, Los Algodones, Mexico
We crossed the border late Thursday afternoon. We made the crossing from Yuma, Arizona, where we had visited a friend of Will’s, to the border town of Los Algodones. The border crossing was fortunately very uneventful. We all thought we would be subjected to some sort of inspection and even discussed whether or not to get rid of our produce. Mexico generally doesn’t allow fresh fruits and vegetables to be brought in, as with many national border crossings.
Border Crossing, Los Algodones, Mexico
However, one of the border agents simply stepped into the back of the bus, glanced around for a few seconds, pointed at the bunk beds and asked “So what do you have up there? Clothes and luggage?” We said yes, he nodded and stepped back out. I think our level of messiness may have helped us a bit (take that, clean freaks). And you will be happy to know we got to keep our oranges. We were asked to go to the immigration office and fill out a single form each and pay a fee for the 6 month visa, which was 500 pesos or 30 US Dollars. And that was it. We were in Mexico!
Immigration Office, Los Algodones, Mexico
Our first night we didn’t drive very far. About 10 miles down Highway 8, it split between Highway 8 and 6. We took Highway 6 another 10 miles or so (or 22 kilometers, as it’s time to get used to the Metric System again) and found a decent place to park the bus in a small town called Ciudad Morales. We picked up some additional groceries and tried to make some plans. Our solar power is not hooked up to our freezer yet, so we packed it full of ice to keep our food and drinks cold.
The US Mexico Border, Los Algodones, Mexico
On Friday morning we woke up and worked on some small projects on the vehicles. One of which was to add reflective tape to the bus and jeep. Apparently a lack of sufficient reflective tape is a reason often given by police to pull you over. We could not find clear regulations for reflective tape in Mexico, so we put two white strips on the top front of our vehicles, two yellow strip on the side, and multiple red and white strips on the rear. Other “safety concerns” include the number of fire extinguishers (at least one per vehicle), safety triangles for the road (three per car), and whether or not your license plates are clearly visible.
Some travelers report officers telling them they must come with them to a police station, but that they can avoid this by “paying a smaller fee on the spot directly to the officer”. Of course, this will be on the whim of the officer pulling you over, how much money is asked for, and if you had actually done anything to incur a penalty. Some travelers even reported the officers taking their license plate as collateral to force the tourist to comply. We hope to avoid the situation all-together by being prepared and flying under the radar, driving slowly and carefully and only during the day.
Installing the sink, Ciudad Morales, Mexico
After ensuring our vehicles were quite reflective we decided to head west to Mexicali. We found a safe place to stay for the night and decided to just stay in and rest. We had a decent dinner on the bus of salad, herbed pork, mashed potatoes, and sautéed garlic spinach. Not bad for cooking in a retro-fitted school bus!
Dinner cooked in the bus, Ciudad Morales, Mexico