Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 07 - Nogales, Mexico....Gawd a'mighty!

I was up at the crack of doom this morning, somewhere around 5:45am. Other than having to tinkle I could have slept in but I remembered this was the day I’d finally head to Mexico.
I got out the maps and began to study them in earnest to get a firm idea of where I wanted to cross the border. Since Nogales was due south of Oracle around 80 miles or so I figured it would be as good a place as any.
Mike and Lois finally drug themselves out of bed and after a cup of coffee they began to resemble humans. Well Lou anyway, Mike still looked like an 80-year old elephant’s trunk. We spent a few moments saying goodbye and since I was pretty wound up to get going I hugged Lois and shook Michael’s trunk, uh, hand and I was outta there.

Larry if you post that picture I will kill you, swear to God I will.

Hey Parmenter you drank all the coffee! Thanks a lot.

The GPS fiend soon had me heading south on highway 77, then after rounding Tucson it kicked me onto highway 19. Before exiting the Tucson area I stopped at a Subway and gobbled down a healthy flat bread thingy. Lois had offered to fix breakfast but I wasn’t quite ready at the time so she got off easy. Next time will be different.
Once on 19 the countryside seemed especially nice, the stuff of western movie sets and it was great to ride through it. At one point I saw a Spanish Mission and not being in a hurry I made a side excursion to see it. Tourists were beginning to assemble in groups so I decided to shoot a pic and get back on the slab. Name? What name? Do missions have names?

Nogales soon showed up with plenty of signs claiming the best rates on Mexican insurance, blah, blah, blah, but I kept riding as I figured there would be plenty of good deals available at the border. 

What happened next completely threw me; one minute I was tooling along through Nogales, AZ, and the next I was at the border crossing. No fanfare, nada, just a bunch of loudly painted signs hawking more insurance, tons of people milling around and suddenly there was the border! I happened to be in the lane with a sign that said “Nothing to declare” and since I didn’t I just stayed in it. In less than a minute I was becoming familiar with two varieties of Mexican topas; the single straight line asphalt bone-jarring hump and the multiple round hubcap size steel dots spaced exactly so you can’t ride between them. Slippery devils too.
Once I was over this short torture section I found myself immersed in Nogales, Mexico among some of the world’s most radical drivers. There didn’t seem to be any other bikes but mine and the fact I’d not been asked to sign the bike in at the border began to worry me. According to everyone I’d talked to who rides in Mexico you’re supposed to go through a complete import routine for your bike plus yourself, you can’t just drive in and hang out.
I spent the next twenty minutes or so thinking about this and decided I must have missed something at the border so I’d better go back and do it right. Getting into Mexico was a glide on the ice, getting out was an entirely different matter. It seems that half of Mexico and all of Arizona’s expats were on their way north like a bunch of Lemmings and I was one of them. It took an hour to get turned around and headed back.

I am not Mr Happy here

When I eventually got to the US crossing I asked the nearest guard where I was supposed to go to do the import thing and he said he’d never heard of it. His one simple question threw me, “Are you going to leave the bike in Mexico, sell it or something?” “Nope, I just understood I was supposed to register it and fill out a bunch of forms, etc. Plus I need to buy Mexican insurance.” I told him. “Well you’d better go through again and check with the people who handle imports” he said.

Perfect, just freaking perfect I thought, there’s thousands of people milling around and I draw the guy who doesn’t know what I’m supposed to do. Finally I figured I may as well leave and start over from the American side so I crossed back. It was hot as hell and I was ready to call it quits for the day so I decided I’d ride back north, check into a decent motel, do a bit of laundry, get something to eat, catch up on my blog – Mike aka Mr Frugale` doesn’t have Internet access at his place – and when the dust settles get in touch with some of the ADV riders I know who will help fill in the blanks.

Mr Clean

And that boys and girls brings this saga up to the present tense, sorry but no film at eleven. Did I mention that Nogales, Mexico is a bit rough around the edges? Maybe even through the core too?

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