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Drive through Mexico experience

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Anubis
8/21/2017 12:47 EST

I recall reading every drop of advice that could be garnered in regards to what to expect and how to do a drive through Mexico from the US border to Belize.
It was awful. Plain awful. And not without several particularly uncomfortable incidents with the uniformed bandits posing as police.

Guys, do not bring your wives or girlfriends on the trip and opt instead for a buddy, if you must drive. I promise your spidey senses will be at an uncomfortable '11' the entire time if you're having to worry every time she (or your kids) have to leave your sight.

Will anything bad happen ? Likely not. But the chances of such are far greater than one's daily routine in the US and it'll be palpable almost immediately after passing the border.

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JohnPBelize
8/21/2017 15:40 EST

I have driven 10 times down and back. Alone, Towing boats, With my wife, you name it I have done it. I don't speak spanish! The drive is actually very nice. The hardest part is learning the paperwork at each boarder.

John-P@torchlake.com

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terrific
8/21/2017 16:37 EST

what crossing and route did you take? You say you felt uncomfortble, was there any physical problem or threat? Did you have reason to fear you wife and kids could not be out of your sight.
Being afraid for the sake of it can make you a victim.
I lived in Northern Ireland at the height of its troubles, A friend and I took a wrong turning in Belfast and within minutes were in deep bandit territory. We knew we should get out and back to a safe area as soon as possible. My friend went into full fearful Victim mode, head spinning looking in every direction hunched up and almost in tears and she wanted to run . I just stood straight I said just keep talking, stop looking round, straighten up and walk normal.
We then walked at normal pace until we saw a street name we recognised we then found our way back to the main safe shopping area. After wards she was glad she had calmed down, we got back to our car went home.
That evening we were informed that we had been on an IRA surveilance report intercepted by military security, but they had dismissed us as simply women shopping. Act as though everything is fine and 99% of the time it will be.

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jracer98
8/21/2017 16:53 EST

On track to leave mid September with boat for Hopkins, Judging from this post , is it safe to assume that the lodging places indicated in your directions had sufficient parking for 4 door pickup and 25' boat?
Have the usual security stuff/// lug locks, Brahma boot, mcgard motor/prop/lower unit hardware.
Removed sonar,uhf and XM/sirius and shipped in the cargo container on the ship.
Anything else you might suggest?
Also considering keeping to I35 and crossing at Laredo then pick up your route at Monterrey. Any reason you go down thru the valley to Mcallen and then back across to Monterrey?
Best Regards

jay

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EnduringWords
8/21/2017 17:05 EST

Who do you use for auto insurance when crossing borders? Is it separate or just special coverage with your U.S. carrier?

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EnduringWords
8/21/2017 17:10 EST

Please let me know how this trip goes for you. We fly to Belize on charitable work but are considering a drive. Hopkins is place we frequent. I recommend the restaurant at the Hopkins Bay Resort. And for local culture and food try Mayan Pride at Maya center village. it is on the southern highway about 12 minutes just south of the hopkins road/southern hwy intersection. It is the food stand by the Nazarene church. Great food there.

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jerric
8/21/2017 17:37 EST

I found it less expensive purchasing insurance through Belize RF&G for both Belize and Mexico insurance. I would recommend you try them.

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Anubis
8/21/2017 17:56 EST

We stuck to the toll roads and stayed at big hotel chains wherever possible, and made sure not to drive at night.
The one time it was impossible to avoid the dark, trouble soon found us.
We were in a 2 vehicle convoy towing a riding lawnmower, of all things.

Plus, for the cost of lodging, tolls, shakedowns, and food it'd have made economic sense to fly and have a service drive the vehicle.

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Anubis
8/21/2017 18:01 EST

We came in from Monterrey Crossing and with a Ford F150 & boat trailer did manage to park at the hotels---though some were pretty tight.

Be sure to keep a device that has GPS the whole way particularly for re-routing after road work or detours and the like. Signage was fairly good.

Best of Luck jr!

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jracer98
8/21/2017 19:22 EST

Anubis,

Tell me more about the "shakedowns".

thx

jay

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JohnPBelize
8/23/2017 17:01 EST

Mission is way easier to cross!! It is a smaller place and not nearly as busy. Crossing a Laredo can take hours!!!

Shake Down? In ten trips down and back I have never had one.

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bobbyveee
8/23/2017 17:23 EST

Hi Anubis, sounds like you didnt take the advice of the seasoned travellers who use Johns route, let that be a lesson to others

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jracer98
8/23/2017 17:58 EST

Thanks for info on Laredo, JPB
Was it your experience that the hotels mentioned in your directions had enough room to park your truck/boat and still be "reasonably" secure?

"Shakedown" was mentioned twice in Anubis posts and I was asking him to elaborate.

This forum doesn't have a "quote" feature that I can see so sometimes it is difficult to reply to 2 different posts in a single posting.

best regards

jay

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jracer98
8/23/2017 17:58 EST

Thanks for info on Laredo, JPB
Was it your experience that the hotels mentioned in your directions had enough room to park your truck/boat and still be "reasonably" secure?

"Shakedown" was mentioned twice in Anubis posts and I was asking him to elaborate.

This forum doesn't have a "quote" feature that I can see so sometimes it is difficult to reply to 2 different posts in a single posting.

best regards

jay

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elgordo42
8/23/2017 18:19 EST

EnduringWords, your US auto insurance will very likely not cover you in Mexico nor in Belize. You can buy them at the borders, but probably easier to get them in advance. I bought through Sanborn's before I entered Mexico, and I do not remember seeing any insurance office there. I then bought a Belize policy from Insurance Corporation of Belize office just after crossing the Belize border.

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elgordo42
8/23/2017 18:29 EST

jracer98, I was following JohnP's coastal route in 2015. Then I got offtrack a bit and ended up in Tuxpan, rather than going directly to Tampico. Tuxpan police stopped me, checked all my paperwork and the stated "infraction, $200 dollars or 3000 pesos" (15-1 exchange rate at the time). I told them that the paperwork was all in order, as it was. They hemmed and hawed, looking through the papers and pointed out a screw loose on my RV and kept repeating the demand for over 20 minutes. I considered asking them to take me to the Estacion and El Capitan, but decided not to risk them calling my bluff and spending the night in a Mexican jail cell. I paid them the money and they indicated that I should follow them, with their lights flashing. I did so and was on the highway in about 6 blocks and on my way. That was my experience with a shakedown. The rest of my journey was smooth and uneventful. Would have been better with a GPS unit and a co-pilot.

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waljoa
9/8/2017 14:46 EST

Just arrived home today and I had to go Transmigrante, in short the agents are just shakedown artists , the road is not fit to be driven , trashed my trailer , the signs are down for the routes that are required so if you don't know the route already or have done extensive road planning with gps it will cost you 1000 s . you cannot go into a town for a hotel or any other reason.the whole setup is a scam. Ship your goods and take the toll roads as a tourist, But even watch that as saw 30 or so holes in the road from Villahermosa down that would swallow a VW bug and take the axles of a big rig stretched across the whole lane.

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jerric
9/8/2017 15:07 EST

While I agree with some of what you say I must confess that I did not suffer so greatly. Perhaps our route was different? I was surprised by how bad some toll roads were but we did not have difficulty with any other part of our journey.

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jracer98
9/8/2017 15:22 EST

"I had to go Transmigrante"

what does this mean?

especially the "had to" part.

thanks

jay

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jerric
9/8/2017 16:50 EST

Think I am starting to understand your problem.
If your declared destination is Central America and you are transporting vehicles or goods, known as "transmigrante", you will need to obtain a Visa at a Mexican Consulate and use a Customs Broker to get your merchandise through Mexico.

It is much simpler to travel as a tourist. Whether you can bring all that you brought as a tourist I do not know.

There are though numerous examples of tourists transporting goods in the archives here and on other sites

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JohnPBelize
9/8/2017 22:30 EST

If you were anywhere near Tampico or Veracruz you did not follow my directions. Ten years ago I went that way. It will never happen again. It is 11 hours longer and the cops are corrupt.

The other way down the middle is actually a very nice drive, I actually enjoy it.

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waljoa
9/8/2017 22:51 EST

Had to means if the drive to Belize with your goods is to take place there was no choice but to either go Tramsmigrante or not do it at all.
John if you were referring to me I know your route and used it northbound but as a Transmigrante you can only be on certain highways and may not leave then , not even for hotel, meals or repairs, costly to do so.

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jracer98
9/9/2017 13:39 EST

JohnP---re: this transmigrate deal---in your opinion, can a truck pulling a 24'boat with an atv in the bed use the toll roads?

2 people with airplane-like carry on bag of tshirts, shorts and toiletries (like you would take on a week's vacation).

Everything else on a ship.

Is there specific language I should use at the Tex/Mex border? Leaving in 2 weeks.....

thx for any info

jay

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waljoa
9/9/2017 14:23 EST

Do not mention that you are driving through to Belize, just that you are tourists to explore Mexico on vacation , pick a few spots to mention and you should be fine. I did that my first trip and was fine but this trip had many other factors.

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JohnPBelize
9/10/2017 19:28 EST

YES! I have towed a 22 foot boat down, with the truck loaded to the gills. Now every once in a while there is a short bad section just slow down. Check your trailer over very well. I have had some trailer problems going thru MX. But they turned out great, got the problems fixed and met some very nice people. In fact this last year I stopped by the little place that helped me and dropped him a socket set from Craftsman.

Again if you need anything hit me on my e-mail John-P@torchlake.com

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jracer98
9/20/2017 16:01 EST

First, God Bless and help the people in Mexico that were hammered by the earthquakes...

Leaving for Hopkins on 10/1 and concerned about the "passability" of the JohnP route thru Puebla. Does anyone have any info on this or could suggest the correct authority to ask (maybe first of next week as they have enough real problems to deal with now)?
thx

jay

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jracer98
9/21/2017 11:23 EST

found this....currently some slow spots but passible.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Puebla,+Mexico/@19.089237,-98.6882261,9z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x85cfc0bd5ebc7a3b:0x48a6461de494ad95!8m2!3d19.0412967!4d-98.2061996!5m1!1e1

jay

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katzgar
9/21/2017 11:43 EST

When you say drive-thru are you referring to McDonald's or KFC or Burger King each experience is a little different

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jracer98
11/12/2017 19:09 EST

Well kids, get your popcorn and a cold Coke.

Dallas TX to Hopkins Belize with an f350 turbo diesel crew cab with a Clubcar xrt800 in the bed and towing a Sailfish 2100 center console. I bought the boat in Dallas from some people that moved there from Florida. Local folks want 50K bass boats and did not understand a really deep boat with a raised bow an (HORRORS) an engine that had been operated in salt water. She'll live out her time in the Caribbean.

I told the Belize customs broker (a requirement for importing goods) that I would be first in line at Belize customs on Day 5.

Day 1 is Dallas to Mcallen and goes without issue. One smooth day in a row would turn out to be our unbroken record...

Day 2  Three 10 hours driving days to go. Up early and hit the Mexican border immigration office with no other cars in sight. Went to the Mexican consulate in Dallas ahead of time and have all documents except the immigration one you have to do there. Gave all that to the guy with the machine gun. A discussion develops between he and his superior and it turns out that the number on the cart is not the same as the number on the title...oh swell.

There is a "D" in the serial number that was data entered as a "O" on the title. Easy for all to understand but still wrong. I am thinking it will take weeks to get a new title from the State of Texas and was considering driving to Austin Tx to hand carry it when the supervisor says that he does not really care about the title since the cart has no VIN, only a serial number anyway. The receipt I had from the dealer oddly did not have the serial number on it. The supervisor says that if I can get a notarized corrected copy of the receipt with the number and get it to him "today", he would allow it to enter Mexico!!!

A huge traffic jam existed reentering the US (of course) and when we work our way up to about 4 cars from the border, the pickup in front of me has it's left front suspension collapse from a broken upper ball joint. The driver gets out and just walks away (back into Mexico). It takes 15 minutes for someone to let me around. At the US border, the agent asks me how long I have been in Mexico. I said "About an hour".  That started a "pull over to that area" adventure that lasted about an hour HA.

Working the logistics over the phone from Texas soil, the dealership handled the paperwork, notary and emailed our hotel in Mcallen from the previous night (who has a color printer). I have no idea how they got it notarized at that hour of the morning but after printing out 5 or 6 copies (to get one that was "straight on the page and looked like an original) at the hotel it was back into Mexico to find the original official. The toll bridge guy at the river said "hey you came thru here earlier".
I said yes and he said "That will be another 12 dollars". grrrrrrrrrrr

Found the original official and good to his word, we were rolling southwest 20 minutes later. We are 4 hours behind schedule. ROUGH ROADS (but nothing like what;s to come) At a fuel stop, I see that the drum of the trailer's winch has vibrated off and is wrapped around the trailer axles. I unhook it from the bow and get it out of the axles. We arrive at the Hotel One in Queretaro about 10 p.m.

Day 3  No issues until past Puebla then the road goes completely to pot. There are long stoppages where the road is down to one lane and you have to wait your turn to use the only open lane. Then we hit a long stretch that we (and the 18 wheelers) could only go 20 mph because the road was completely stripped for new road base and tar. Worse than a plowed field and IT'S A TOLL ROAD !!! Gave it up about an hour from Villahermosa at 4 a.m.  Slept in the lot of a Pemex (along with 20 or 30 trucks). Road beat both trailer fenders off. One is bungeed and ratchet strapped on, one is completely gone.

Day 4 Made it to Escarcega and had lunch. On the way thru town I was creeping over one of those giant speed bumps and the drag on the truck went way up. In the mirror, I could see a black tire mark coming off the trailer.
I drug the trailer down off the elevated main street to the lower side street. The drivers side rear trailer axle was no longer connected to the spring. The tire was jammed backward up against the (missing) trailer fender's mount, Those that know me will not be surprised that I had my aluminum racing jack and an electric pit gun in the bed under the cart. 2 pumps and 5 off and I am looking at no U bolt in front of the axle and the one behind the axle has one (only) nut that is on by about 4 threads and the U bolt itself was bent. So many nights in so many racetrack pits working on hot broken parts with 15 minutes until the "A" feature.
Assessing, a positive is that the locating pin is still on the leaf springs so the axle can be positively located. Now, how to secure it to the spring? The lovely and talented Paula is searching the internet for an Autozone or generic auto parts store (not impossible in Mexico but this is a pretty small town...

Then the Lord showed up.

A young guy walks out of a ramshackle little storefront. He looks at the situation closely and seems to understand the mechanics involved. By various means including drawing in the dirt, I got him to understand that I could fix this with a bit of steel strap/angle iron (I had a cordless drill and bits)/2 bolts/washers and another course thread nut for the remaining u bolt. Off he went and I went to work on getting the loose axle back on the locating pin. I hear a stick welder start burning metal and in about 5 minutes he reappears with a 2 straps with holes drilled in them and 4 mismatched but long enough bolts and washers/nuts. We bolt it up, 5 on the wheel and it's ready to roll in 15 or 20 minutes down time. DEAD to alive in 20 minutes. After I stow the jack etc I look around and he is gone. Paula said he walked into the building. I walk in and there are 40 or 50 used automotive shocks (given the condition of the roads, I GET THAT !!!  There is nothing but a little desk, a young woman and a little 2 or 3 year old girl. Paula has found a translation app on her phone. Through it, I ask him how much would he like to have for helping me.

He says, "I am a Christian and will accept what you can afford."

Well I had gotten a wad of pesos before I left Dallas for good measure and I can confidently report that he provided for his family on that day ( or week? HA)

Made it to Chetumal by 5:30 p.m. to check into the hotel in the actual daylight... PROGRESS !!!

Day 5 Was the first one in line at Customs at the Belize border and no broker. Stupid me thought that I could roll up to the border and give the guy the official letter for the QRP boat, agree on a price for the more than 3 year old truck, pay it and be on my way in 20 minutes. Well at 4:55 pm. things got into I gear and I was thru in "only" 9 hours...grrrrr
Stayed in Corozal at Tony's rather than drive another dark road.

Day 6 A smooth drive to the beachhouse in Hopkins....right up to the point that I got the truck stuck pulling into the unpaved driveway HA

jay

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