Saturday, February 4, 2012

Driving Back

I'm am at the hotel, exhausted so I am not sure how this will come out. I just finished Day #2 of the 3 day drive back and this time I am taking the inland route through Queretero. Where to start?

Day one went well. Whether you take the inland or coastal route when driving back and forth to Merida you generall cover the same ground between Merida and Villahermosa. The roads are good in Yucatan. In Campeche the are under heavy construction right now and you shouldn't drive them in the dark at all. My truck was covered in dirt by the time I got to Tabasco. The roads are unpaved at this time in several stretches of HWY 180 in Campeche which makes for slower going.

I also missed the turn to get onto the Cuoto (toll Road) at Champoton because of the construction mess. The distraction was that they had us merging off of a road with oncoming traffic and they didn't have the cones and temporary guardrails up so it caused some distraction and I ended up on the Libre (Free) route. Big mistake. It winds through some coastal mountains which you have to shift down into 2nd gear for (very steep) and it leads you into areas that are confusing. Just take the cuota at all times and make sure you take out a small signature loan for all of your toll expenses before you hit them. I think I have spent close to $100 in tolls and I am not even out of Queretero yet.

Once I got to Villahermosa at around 2:30PM it was rush hour on Friday an the locals were cranky, cranky, cranky. I watched a semi truck back up into the lady in front of me and not even get out to look at the damage. He just took off. Unbelievable.

Stayed at teh Quality Inn behind VIPS like I have recommended before. That was fine. Villahermosa just seeemed different to me on this trip. I noticed the trees along HWY 180 had black trunks from all of the smog. Just not applealing. For dinner I stayed in my room and at crackers and apples. Big spender.

Day 2. I left Villahermosa at 5AM and I noticed my headlights were not working that well. I later got out and noticed that they were covered in dirt from all of the roads in Campeche. The sun came up at 6:30 but the roads were clear for a bit of driving in the dark. Not a problem. I didi miss the turn to Minititlan and ended up on 180 towards Coatzacoatal. Another mistake. Had to backtrack and get back on the main HWY. Then I took the road towards Mexico City, Hwy 150. I have to tell you, for toll roads, Hwy 180 in Tabasco and Hwy 150 heading towards Mexico City are very torn up. They need to do alot of repairs for much of that stretch.

I was pulled over twice, once by the military, once by Federal Police. The Feds tried to tell me that I have to reregister my car with Aduanas each year. I told them and showed them the written law where, as long as my visa is current, the sticker on my windshield is current. The officer told me I was wrong even while I pointed to the sheet that was given me by Aduanas, green highlights and all, to show I was legal. He let me go with a warning.

I also continued to be amazed at how bad the toll roads are. There were a few stretches that were well paved but probably 65% of them were not. At times it was real bad, the quality of the roads. The Arco Norte was another story. It is the Mexican version of the Autobahn. At the entry point they give you a plastic card to hold onto and you give it to the toll attendant at whatever point you exit. I road it the full distance to Hwy 57, Queretero exit. The cost, $275 MXP just for that stretch. HWY 57 north to Queretero is 6 lanes and is an American quality hwy...with tolls of course.

I am staying in the Hampton Inn in Queretero tonight. $1475 MXP. I tried to take up residence at at a park and "whateve" hotel but they told me my truck was too big. Queretero is a very beautiful city, very modern. Not sure where all the wealth comes from but it is nice.

All right friends. I am going to finish up and hit the ATM to make sure I have enought for any more cuotas manana.
Caio
Jay

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