Driving in Mexico
Replies: 25 - Last Post: Jun 23, 2012 11:07 AM Last Post By: tiredandretired
Jun 4, 2012 10:39 PM
15I drove all Baja California last December and January from Vancouver BC area.
I would recommend to drive the first 200 miles from the US border into Mexico during daytime, as this is the criminalized zone. If you ever pass by Baja, campers attack on beach occurs around San Quentin area. South of that, it is safe. Just use common sense like anywhere else.
If uou drive off road for camping, be careful as there are broken bottle everywhere and cholla cacti do pierce tire. I had 3 slow leaks during that trip. Be careful also with soft sand, easy to get stuck, even if you only do a few meters off road. You might want to bring a shovel.
Edited by: manatenish1
Jun 5, 2012 6:17 PM
16The turnoff from the coast highway Mex 200 onto Mex 14-D the toll road to Uruapan, and Patzcuaro, is not in La Mira. Coming from the north ignore all signs for Mex 37 and Uruapan. Turn at the glorietta in a Mira and follow signs to Lazaro Cardenas. A waypoint is for you to go under a railroad overpass. Keep going. Then you'll come to another overpass. Ignore it as well and keep going to the first stoplight. Make a left and it will take you to the autopista.
Jun 5, 2012 7:45 PM
17Thank you, Queretaro and Michoacan for your comments! :)
Jun 8, 2012 11:25 AM
18In Mexico, to avoid problems obey the speed limit signs. 60 means 60 if you have foreign plates, even if everyone else is racing, and 80 to 120 if you are Mexican. That is because the cops know they will only get 200 pesos from a Mexican, but with the right threats you will fork out 1200 pesos.
Once a year, my wife and I make a round trip to Texas, around October. I am not going to say nothing can happen, because my view of life is anything that has happened any time or any place CAN happen any time or place.
Reynosa has been hot recently. Shoot-outs and bombings, according to my daughter who lives just across the border in Mission. My daughter is frantic that her mom takes the bus to Reynosa overnight, wants her to take the plane instead.
When we leave Anzalduas, just west of Reynosa, (and the bridge in that area I recommend) we leave early, and drive way south of Matehuala, hopefully to a sin motel about a mile past the entrance to San Jose Iturbide, before dark.
When we stop for gas, which is well south of the Monterrey area, we stop at the entrance and look for normal activity before we enter. We use the restroom at the bridge itself as we enter Mexico, then stop once on the cuota west of Reynosa. See comment about stopping and looking before entering.
So, our goal is to get out of Tamaulipas as efficiently as possible.
Our last trip, last October, there were heavy patrols on the cuotas everywhere. Mostly Federal police but with military equipment, Humvees, yes, also heavy armored vehicles with machine guns on top. Lots of inspections with sand-bagged machine guns. Even one place claims to have gamma ray machines to look in your cars. We normally get waved past. My 112 pound, 70 year old, white haired wife fools them every time. (Just joking.)
Avoid any conflict on the highway. If you are approaching a slow moving vehicle climbing a hill, and just as you are ready to move left to pass, a car comes from behind very fast, hit the brakes and let him go. This has nothing to do with the Zetas, but if that car has a driver who is a bit tipsy, or stoned, or a real hot head, he may try to kill you with his car. Road rage is common in Mexico. Not most folks, but the ones who driver very fast. Let them go.
Jun 8, 2012 12:03 PM
19Tiredandretired makes a good point about the police charging you for a specious traffic violation.
A Mexican driver advised me to have lots of 100 Peso bills on you and claim poverty when they stop you. Start offering small amounts. Make a pretense of searching the cupboards for cash to stall them. Offer another hundred and you will reach an agreement somewhere between the 2500 Peso the cop wants and 0 Pesos you want to pay.
My advice is to avoid driving anywhere near Mexico City. We were stopped in Toluca and held up by the police for 2500 Pesos. I stalled and delayed and then started offering. We settled on 500 pesos. If You want to visit Mexico City, Park for a few days on the coast or in Guadalajara or Morelia and bus to Mexico City.
We were stopped on another trip in Tampico and had no small bills, just 500 peso bills. The cop wanted 500 and that is what it cost me. He would not make change.
Jun 8, 2012 12:14 PM
Jun 13, 2012 5:43 AM
21We live in Arizona close to the border with Nogales. I would NOT travel south on this route. Parts of Sonora are dangerous and Sinaloa is very bad. The coastal towns like Mazatlan are experiencing lots of violence. Cruise ships are not going there anymore. We are going to Mexico in July and will drive to Texas and take the bus south from there.
Jun 15, 2012 9:22 PM
22We so far have taken our car back and forth when I go north. My wife takes the bus when she goes alone, and relies on daughter and husband for transportation, in exchange for helping with grandson. Daughter really appreciates a nice nap after a day of teaching.
We are actually discussing taking the bus north, and renting a car in the US. Considering how much less we spend each month than our income, a couple thousand dollars, if it even costs that much, to rent a car for a few weeks, would not break us. The problem is we usually have a lot of goodies of the shopping nature to bring back, so this is a reason to take the car with us.
We do want a car in Mexico, and we want to use the car in the US. So, to date, we take the car. The main highways are heavily patrolled, at least in the daytime. Things might get hairy if the car dies enroute.
We have also discussed buying a ten year old F-150 for use here in Mexico, and leaving the 2002 Sienna in McAllen with the battery on a keeper.
We are adjusting to the higher prices of things in Mexico, so we don't feel as strongly that we must bring all sorts of things with us.
Jun 15, 2012 9:26 PM
23Note for tourists, one common opinion is having a very desirable car is a safety negative. A year ago, a woman who lived at that time in Monterrey, now live in the US, said white luxury SUV's are desired by the thugs.
Our old Sienna, 2002, is dark blue, and I very deliberately do not wash it before the trip.
I also take off one or more hubcaps for the trip.
Edited by: tiredandretired
Jun 16, 2012 7:55 AM
24I've driven for decades in both the USA and Mexico. Driving the freeways around any large American city, such as San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angelos, you name it, are a heck of a lot more dangerous than driving down the highways in Mexico, whether from Nogales, El Paso, Laredo, or other cities. Even driving many of the freeways between cites in the USA is a crapshoot. Now if the drug cartels were to start targeting tourists along those highways in Mexico I'd have to re-evaluate things.
Jun 23, 2012 11:07 AM
25I can only agree with 28 because of illegal stops by cops in the USA. On another thread in the USA section, it was reported a man drove across the US and was stopped a number of times, with CA plates, but was not given a ticket. That is a sure sign of illegal stops which are rampant now. My son and I both have been illegally stopped twice so far in the USA.
Other than that, I do not agree, though my travels do not include Phoenix nor LA. But, in the center of the US, I don't consider it a crapshoot (except for bad cops.)
As far as the cops go, I am much more afraid of cops in the US than in Mexico. Due to this unconstitutional car confiscation which is happening in the US, in Mexico they only want maybe $100 maximum.
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