My hubby was a champ today (Sunday). He drove entirely from Cuauhtémoc in the north of Mexico to Fresnillo in Zacatecas state for a grand total of 10 hours and over 500 miles behind the wheel.
The roads are surprisingly good here. We have stayed almost completely on the toll roads however. We met a couple on the train ride who has been RVing from Connecticut to Mexico for the last 10 years. He advised us that the free roads are usually curvy and in bad condition. He also gave us some great tips for driving in the colonial heartland cities which we plan to see on our way back north. It was very good for us to run in to that couple because we were really uncomfortable and paranoid after spending six days in Juárez being careful and feeling unsafe most of the time.
I have discovered it is very necessary to have your own Ziploc bag full of toilet paper and hand sanitizer because most bathrooms do not have any soap or toilet paper at all! Even the ones you have to pay for!
The only semi-scary thing was on the free road where the road is really only one and a half lanes wide so you can be passing the big trucks and meet another person passing head on. Not really any close calls though. The toll roads are quite expensive. We spent about $50 US yesterday for maybe 200 miles of toll roads.
The scenery has been pretty desertish… A few green trees and pecan groves about an hour south of Chihuahua city but then it went back to desert. For most of the time in Durango and Zacatecas states we were driving with mountains on both sides but not actually through the mountains. There are tons of roadside stands selling food. Some of the stands look like they were just thrown up with some old scrap wood and I cannot imagine how desperately hungry I would need to be to stop at one. Mex and I both just shudder a little at some of the store fronts. We have been in some restaurants that look a little rough on the outside but are clean inside.
We stayed in an Auto hotel in Fresnillo which was a row of garages and you pull in and then there is a pretty big room with a couch, bed and bathroom inside. It was nice because we felt like the car was secure and you only pay $25 for 12 hours which was convenient since we were just staying there for the night. It was fairly clean – I found a few miscellaneous hairs but I’ve found those in nice hotels as well. We ordered room service which was delivered thru a strange turn-style door so the person delivering and the person in the room could not see each other. From about 5am to 10am on Monday I was very, very sick, more sick than I’ve every been. I ate a hamburger and since I have gotten sick both times I have eaten beef I am only going to eat what my husband eats for the rest of the trip (he only eats chicken and seafood for meat). I guess it will be trouble if we both eat something bad and are miserably sick at the same time! (We did find out a little later in the trip that the reason Auto hotels have that nice garage and rent for only 12 hours is because they are used as rendezvous spots for couples who don’t want to be spotted… maybe the room wasn’t so clean after all… ugh!)
I did become very thankful for the toll roads though since each time you pay a toll there is a bathroom which usually does have paper and hand soap! That is why we only drove about three hours to Aguascalientes and had to stop at a hotel. Oh well! We will have to skip Tequila (ahhh, big tear) but there will be other visits.
We have seen hardly any police which is interesting. I am glad of it since we were even told by the older couple we met that they do sometimes expect bribes. Oh well… We have a new attitude since we met the older couple on the train and are enjoying the time on the road a bit more. We did pass a military checkpoint but they were only checking people going north. The signs in southern Mexico are very obvious and we can usually completely avoid large cities with the toll ways. We have discussed that if this trip goes well our new retirement plan may be to RV around the country in the winters instead of buying a home in one spot. We will see since I cannot even park my dad’s truck yet. I guess driving something the size of a small bus is not in the near future!