Mérida or Bust — Day Seven: Laredo, TX, to Matehuala, San Luis Potosí (Mexico!)

Total Kilometres to Drive: 5,400

Kilometres Driven Today: 575

Total Kilometres Driven: 3,430

Kilometres Left: 1,970

Amount of Trip Completed: 63.51%

The first time I drove down to Mexico, I was so broke I had to sleep in my truck as much as possible. It hit me last night in Laredo just how much my life has changed as business has improved. I was staying in a studio apartment in an extended stay hotel that was very luxurious (which you can always tell when there are different soaps for different parts of the body!). Sure, I got a great deal on booking.com, but it was still a $75 a night room and right on budget. I’m starting to feel like I’m “middle class” and I’m wondering how living in Mexico, where I will pretty much be wealthy, is going to change me and my values…

At any rate, I actually slept pretty well last night and would have gone the night through if the very loud alarm of the person sleeping in the room above mine hadn’t gone off around 4AM. I still managed to fall back asleep after, a very good pre-border night! I finally got up around seven and refused to be rushed. I’m travelling at a time of year where the days are longer and I only had about 500KM to do past the border, so I had some of my coffee before taking off, although I definitely was in no mood to eat (the hotel sent me off with a granola bar and I had bought more bars yesterday as well).

Getting out of Laredo and to the Colombia Bridge crossing was more trying than it would have been had there been some signage saying that I was on Mines Road, which takes you up to the Colombia crossing road. The portion of the road between Mines and I-36 is a tollway for which you need a pass. So if you don’t have one, you have to go all the way into Laredo and then back up again. I was going about 80KM out of my way, 40KM on each side of the border, to cross at Colombia, but research told me it would be a quiet, non-busy, one-stop crossing, compared to using one of the crossings in Laredo. The only caveat is that staff there don’t have much, if any, English.

It was only as I approached the bridge that I realised there might be a toll to cross it and that I’d left my last few dollars as a tip for the hotel cleaner! Thankfully, they took pesos. The exchange rate for US to MXN today was 1:20. So 1USD=20MXN. My bridge toll was 3.50USD, so 70MXN.

Unlike when you cross at Nogales, the checkpoint is right at the border. Signage was a bit confusing, but I saw a sign for Banjercito and vehicle importation, so I pulled over to deal with that. A customs officer promptly came over to check me out. She said to go in and do the visa and vehicle stuff, then return to the truck and she’d do the declaration thing.

It was maybe 8:45 when I entered into a very neat building where all the windows were numbered to make it clear in what order  to do things. First stop was INM where I asked for a 30-day entry since I have a residente temporal visa sticker in my passport. I didn’t have to fill out anything. The officer just stamped some stuff and gave me my entry paper. I had no fee to pay since I’ll be paying muchos pesos for my residency card when I arrive!

Next stop was a copy shop for a copy of the entry paper, then Banjercito for the vehicle import. That was easy since I’ve done it twice before. The lady started to explain that I only have a 30-day TIP (temporary import permit), but I told her that I know all about that and that I have friends at my destination who will help me get sorted with aduena so I hopefully don’t lose my 200USD deposit (but I’m already resigned to losing it).

I then went back out to my truck and pulled out my inventory list. The customs lady (about my age, maybe younger), came back over and explained to me that I wasn’t eligible to bring in everything for free because I didn’t have a consulate certified menaje de casa (list of household goods). So she was going to have to go through everything, figure out what it was all worth, and then charge me 16% IVA (tax) on it all.

Thankfully, it was still cool out! I began to pull out things and she went though a bunch of it. You can see one of my Mexican blankets there — it was wrapped around a painting, then wrapped in paper and a garbage bag. She actually handed me a knife to get into the garbage bag, which was taped pretty solidly.

I suspected I was in trouble when she started to count the number of DVDs I had in one of my boxes (hundreds!). She made me go almost all the way to the back of the truck bed, but not entirely, and she cut open several bags of clothes while asking me if I had any weapons of any kind (only kitchen knives!). We then went into the cab and she made a note of the printer and stuff I had in a bin. Finally, she told me to leave everything out while she went to calculate what I’d owe for import duties while a colleague came by with a sniffer dog.

I was just rewrapping my painting when said dog came and he was clearly very bored by my truck. His handler gave me a big smile and a gracias before telling me that I could repack. Just as I was doing that, the customs (aduena) lady was back and telling me that I owed 800USD.

Needless to say, I had nothing in the truck save maybe my computer that would be worth paying 800USD for. I didn’t even have 800USD to give her! I finally told her flat out that I couldn’t pay and she gave me a horrified look and apologised for not having been clear. What she actually meant was that she had evaluated my stuff at being worth 800USD and that I had to pay 16% of that, which she pegged at 120USD. So if I agreed to pay that 120USD, she could clear me for customs and I could be on my way. I’m still laughing with relief.

When I met up with her inside, I made sure to thank her for being kind and patient with me so that it would be clear that I was not upset with her and that I respected her job and the fact that I had to pay this money. I’d only been upset because I hadn’t expected to have to pay a huge amount and couldn’t see my way around doing that besides having to leave my things behind! She and I had a good laugh and she said it was a good thing my Spanish is so good or we might have had to wait hours for an interpreter to come! She finally got the bill together and I was able to pay it. She told me to present it to her colleague at a booth I would drive by and I could be on my way.

Well… I got to the booth and was sent off to have Moya X-rayed! Holy smokes are these folks thorough! I followed the instructions to get Moya to the X-ray booth and then stepped out to a safe area. The man doing pantomimes for me was very grateful when I told him he could just speak Spanish to me. LOL We had a nice conversation while we waited for the X-rays. As it turns out, he just recently did most of my drive since he went on holidays with his family to Playa del Carmen. Can you tell by now that this was a very relaxed border crossing with lots of chatty, friendly folks?

I then had to go back to a waiting area just after the booths to wait for the results of the X-ray. Finally, a guy came over to let me know I was clear. Woohoo!

Pause here to make a guess in the comments on what time it was when I finally pulled away from the border station…

It was only about 10:15. I’d been there at most an hour and a half!

Before I go on, I just checked the Montreal consulate website’s fees page and see that a menaje de casa is $178. I paid about $160 in duties, so I not only saved money by not having a proper menaje de casa, I still have the option of getting one done at a later date if I have something valuable to bring into Mexico with me. So my stupidity paid off. 😀 I think the woman’s evaluation was incredibly fair and extremely low ball, just based on the amount of electronics I had with me. I feel that she gave me a break because I declared everything I had with me. She matched my list to my boxes and there were no surprises. The amount certainly didn’t feel punitive.

Moving on, I got about two minutes from the border before I pulled into a very nice rest area to use the bathroom. I then pointed Moya south towards Monterrey, stopping in at the first Oxxo I passed to add $200 to my phone to get 1GB of data for a month since I knew there was a strong chance I would not have internet at the motel tonight (I must be psychic).

The first bit of my drive was painful like driving down MX-15, with huge variances in the speed limits. But once I got onto the cuoatas (toll roads), I was in a whole other world than the Mexico I’m used to, with good speed limits and no endless parade of stops at military, federale, and fruit checkpoints! I did have one inland customs and border checkpoint, but was able to just roll through it.

But the toll booths… OMG. So many tolls. Over $600 (40CAD) worth, starting with a big one at $219! I did something stupid at one booth and got in the wrong lane (in my defence, I don’t think any were actually marked). This was a no cash, tag only lane. Some very angry truckers honked at me for blocking it and a lady in the booth next to me yelled loudly to wait for her. I got exact change change ready for her and was quickly out of there, only to be flagged down immediately by a federale.

Well, it was bound to happen sometime that I’d get a moving violation here. Right? I pulled over in front of him and looked back to see him waving me off. I think he saw my out of country license plate, correctly figured that I’m a stupid gringa, and decided to be forgiving. 🙂

There is a dearth of taco stands on the road most travelled, so instead of not eating all day while hoping to find good food, I stopped at another Oxxo and after much label reading, found a ham and cheese sandwich with no mayo that looked almost edible. It was surprisingly soggy though, and one bite told me why — jalapeños! There is something about the combination of ham, American cheese, and jalapeños that is very “Mexico” to me, probably because of Panamá’s bakery, so my rather uninspired lunch ended up being satisfying.

I drove pretty hard all afternoon since I need to get used to the pace. I was very comfortable, not quite “home,” but definitely more than a tourist.

I was perhaps an hour from my destination when I pulled into a Pemex. I took on $500 of fuel and the attendant tried to scam me when I paid, telling me that I gave him only $50, not $500. He was very young and I let him have it, telling him he should be ashamed of himself. I left him practically in tears, but doubt that he learned his lesson. Always be sure to count bills that you hand over, make eye contact, and get verbal confirmation that you’d handing over the correct amount. I got lucky on this one.

Just as I was pulling out of the Pemex, I saw a sign for “dulces de guayaba” (guava sweets) and I roared to a stop by a couple sitting under an umbrella with their ware. I bought this huge triangular portion for $35. I knew I didn’t stand a chance in hell of eating it all, but I wanted some guava flavour and texture, dangnabit! I got through about a third of it (it’s not very sweet), but threw out the rest after it was in a hot car all afternoon. The texture of this sweet is a bit tough to describe. It’s a little gritty and it holds together. You can’t just break off a piece and it’s not gelatinous like Jell-O. Anyway, YUM.

I had more tollbooth fun when I exited just before the Matehuala tollbooth to find a bar across the road. A man came running in my direction and said, “No worry, no worry. I speak very good English! My colleague he comes for your money. 23 pesos!” His English was not good and I failed at getting an answer as to whether I did something wrong turning off where I did. What I suspect is that traffic was light and instead of staffing the little tollbooth at the off ramp, they just had a young employee run down to collect money and open the bar for the odd car. The toll was actually $24. 🙂

It was then a very short drive to the Las Palmas Midway Inn, which Croft and at least a half dozen other people recommended highly.

I was quoted over $1,000 for a room and asked if they had a better price. I was offered another room for $864, with the only difference being that I’d be at the opposite end from the pool. Not a big deal! I was then led to my room by a man on a bicycle who showed me everything and gave me my key. The room is pretty basic, but nicer than other hotels I’ve stayed at in Mexico except for Durango. The bed is actually pretty comfy!

First order of business was to get my bathing suit out! I jumped into the freezing cold pool and enjoyed the dip immensely even though I didn’t stay in long. Despite wearing sunscreen, my left arm is pretty burnt from the drive today (should have listened to myself this morning and stuck to long sleeves), so the cold water felt nice.

Then, I went back to my room to start on this post before going to the attached restaurant for dinner. I had their pork chop special and that suited me just fine. Mexicans tend to prepare their meat the way I like it, well seasoned and well cooked. Some might have found these too stiff for their taste, but they were perfect for me. I just didn’t expect that much meat! I made it through half of my jalapeño. That’s a Victoria beer in front of my plate and some very bland salsa that I had with totopos. I teased the server that I got served the Gringo salsa and he understood what I meant, bless him. That’s why I have Tabasco sauce to the right of my plate and a jalapeño. LOL I have to get reaccustomed to eating spicy food, but the learning curve won’t be super steep since I did eat hot peppers often in the Balkans.

I added Coahuila, San Luis Potosí, and Nuevo León to my Mexico visited states map today, and also went through Tamaulipas!

The next three days are going to be long. I was going to go all the way to Córdoba tomorrow, but Google is telling me that’s a 10-hour drive (865KM) and I’ve got too much Mexico experience now to commit to that. I’m going to aim for Puebla (713KM, 8 hours).

That would leave me 628KM (8 hours) to Villahermosa on Thursday and 600KM (8 hours) to Chelem on Friday. I’m going to be wiped when I get there but, really, the budget can’t support more than two more hotel stays and, frankly, I’m ready to get there. This was never meant to be a tourism trip and I’m not on holidays.

Well, I think that’s everything. It was a full day! Yay for being back in Mexico!

Mérida or Bust — Day Six: Junction, TX, to Laredo, TX

Total Kilometres to Drive: 5,400

Kilometres Driven Today: 350

Total Kilometres Driven: 2,855

Kilometres Left: 2,545

Amount of Trip Completed: 52.87%

What would have been a great night in Junction was ruined by the obnoxious family in the next room that let their kids run wild screaming and slamming doors till well past 11:30. I had no empathy for the child who woke me up twice in the middle of the night while he was having night terrors. I can be petty as the rest of them and I was slamming my own doors and blaring the TV when I got up at 7:00 and straight through till I left at 10:30 after completing a small job.

Texas is the northern Ontario of the US, about 90 billion kilometres long and today’s stretch was just as open and frustrating to drive because, despite the high speed limit, folks were apparently out on Sunday drives. There was a long stretch of cornfields that would have once upon a time reminded me of Iowa, but this time reminded me of Serbia. I stopped in Leakey to take on fuel, regretting not doing so in Junction since I paid a whopping $2.50 per gallon, the same price as in Montana!

As the day turned into afternoon, I bitterly regretted not wearing lighter clothes, even if it had been chilly in Junction. By the time I saw a Dairy Queen in Carrizo Springs around two I was ready to strip down anywhere I could stop and to have an ice cream for lunch! I pulled into the parking lot, rummaged around my suitcases, and came up with sandals and a skirt. I pulled the latter on over my jeans and then took off my jeans, disappointing the sleazy trucker who was expecting a show. Back in a tee, flowy skirt, and sandals, I immediately felt like myself again… and once again debated the wisdom of driving 2,500KM into the tropics in a truck with no AC…

It was just a quick stop and then I drove straight through to Laredo, although it was pretty unsteady going all the way down. My GPS had the wrong address for the hotel, so it took me a bit to find it, which was very frustrating since traffic was heavy. I finally found it and then promptly went back out to find a Walmart, a Bank of America, and a “casa de cambio” to buy pesos.

Laredo is very unpleasant to drive around in because the interstate goes right through it, so you have to drive miles out of your way to get to something across the street from you. I had to do the bank first and so had to drive by the Walmart and casa de cambio, then go all the way back around to hit those two before returning to the hotel.

Walmart was a zoo and I’m so glad I had most of my shopping done already. As I was pulling out, I saw the Office Depot and kicked myself for having left the computer at the hotel since I had something to print out.

As for the the casa de cambio, I just went to one that I had spotted on the way to the bank. At the “official” exchange rate online, I should have gotten 3,500MXN for my 190USD and I got 3,300MXN, which seems fine to me since you never get the “official” rate. It wasn’t worth the hassle to shop around.

I got back to the hotel, grabbed my computer, and went to ask the front desk clerk if there was somewhere closer that I could print my documentation for the Mexico truck insurance. He offered to print it for me and didn’t charge me!

I went back out to the Whataburger around the corner to get a quick supper since I was curious about this Texas establishment, even if the last thing I wanted for dinner was a burger. The burger might have been good had it been hot, but the onion rings and coffee milkshake hit the spot.

Now, I need to spend about an hour and a half doing a small job before trying to hit the sack early. The border at Colombia doesn’t open until eight, so I don’t plan to head out till about 7:15. I’ll have about a six-hour drive to my destination, so as long as I clear the border by ten, I’ll have plenty of time to reach Matehuala before dark.

So I’m just barely halfway to Mérida. My budget has thus far been frightfully on track. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been so tight and I really don’t like it. In some ways, I wish I had hung out in Amarillo and worked until some of my May money started coming in, but I’d calculated that I had enough to get there with what I had in the bank when I left Haven and I still do. But I’ll definitely need to tighten the purse strings when I arrive and work my butt off for the second half of May and all of June before I can even start to think of having any real fun. And even then, I have to start saving for renting and furnishing a house in November. It never ends! 🙂

I have been doing this trip on the cheap when it comes to fuel, but hotels and fuel aren’t easy to save on. I’m back to super pricy fuel tomorrow, have an unimaginable amount of tolls facing me, and Mexican hotel prices are comparable to north of the border. I’ll definitely be happy to land on Friday and stop the financial bleed. But…

This adventure is so worth it. I don’t think I’ll ever want to do this drive again, at least not alone and/or at this pace, but I’m so grateful that I was able to choose to go to Mérida this way.

Mérida or Bust — Day Five: Amarillo, TX, to Junction, TX

Total Kilometres to Drive: 5,400

Kilometres Driven Today: 635

Total Kilometres Driven: 2,495

Kilometres Left: 2,905

Amount of Trip Completed: 46.2%

So here is the ridiculous hotel where I spent the last couple of nights, the Camelot Suites:

Not my picture; it was too gross out to take one! My room was at the far left corner under the tower and Moya was parked where you see the silver car.

This is a one-star hotel. The top part is closed, the west wing is, according to friendly Brenda at the front desk a “seniors’ home” with long-term residents, and the first floor of the east wing has room for nightly guests. My expectations were low for 47CAD a night, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s obvious that they haven’t spent any money they absolutely didn’t have to spend in my room, but everything that needed updating and to keep the room from feeling grotty was updated, including the carpet, mattress and soft furnishes, and most of the bathroom except the tub (which was fine). The room was really big, it had a mini fridge, and the heat, which I needed, worked well. I was grateful to have a couch to work from since the table and chairs weren’t a suitable work station. Add in the superb morning coffee and I don’t have a thing to nitpick about. I could have easily spent a week in that room without getting sick of it. There was an Overlook Hotel feel to the long corridor leading to the immaculate lobby, though…

The room was MUCH nicer than this hallway might lead you believe!

I had a job to finish for tonight and was delighted that I slept through the night (the first time I did that in weeks) and was up early enough to finish the job with time to spare before checkout, even with taking the time to enjoy my delicious coffee! I was in no hurry to leave since it was snowing pretty hard. This is what cemented my decision to leave — the weather was getting worse, not better, and I didn’t want to face construction and traffic on a Monday morning.

The wind was blowing hard and nasty when I left around eleven. I had a longer driving day ahead of me than I was keen on, but the pickings between Amarillo and Laredo had been slim. I want a short day into Laredo tomorrow, so Junction with a very well reviewed inexpensive motel made the most sense.

My first stop of the day was for more coffee and a bathroom at the McDonald’s in Plainview. By that point, I was regretting wishing for blue sky because while I finally had sun, it was blowing hard. It was so bad that I couldn’t even dig through the passenger side of the car to get my shoes so I could take off my rain boots — everything kept blowing out of the truck!

The drive to my next stop, Post, for fuel was very unpleasant and I saw a caravan’s worth of smart RVers pull over and seek shelter from the wind. The scenery was not particularly memorable, much more like the plains than desertic Arizona at the same latitude, but there were a kazillion windmills dotting the landscape. I was happy to see them.

I decided to detour slightly to the Walmart in Sweetwater to shop for a few items on my list to save me time in Laredo tomorrow. I was thrilled to find both of my favourite pairs of Earth Spirit sandals available in my size. Some people might find me stupid to buy a pair of them a year, but I go through my shoes quickly no matter what price I pay for them. These are super comfy, high quality, suitable to the Mexican climate, and cheap enough for it not to hurt to replace them regularly. I also got a few tee shirts and some toiletries, including sunscreen, which I’ll need starting tomorrow as I’ll finally be moving to tee shirts! I have to remember to pick up truck oil in Laredo tomorrow. I was tired today and didn’t feel like cutting back all the way across the store to get it. 🙂

After Sweetwater, I just drove. My GPS took a different route than what Google suggested and took me through San Angelo and then had me turn south at Eden. Despite doing less mileage than Google said I did and having super high speed limits the whole way, the trip, not counting detours, still took a whole hour more than Google estimated. It’s rare that Google is that far off! Even in Mexico, it is very good at estimating realistic driving times.

I checked in and asked for a recommendation for a restaurant open on a Sunday that I could walk to. I was directed to La Familia, a short distance away. It’s a Tex-Mex joint and exactly what I wanted since I couldn’t leave Texas without having fajitas.

I ordered this pretty thing to sip on while I perused the menu (even though I knew what I wanted) and munched on totopos and very spicy red sauce:

Can you see what’s “wrong” with this picture?

I declare fajitas my favourite American food. YUM!

These were a little light on the peppers (which were sweet, by the way), but super heavy on the onions, which I like even better. 🙂 The chicken had a wonderful flavour and the guacamole was almost as good as mine. There was a bit too much for one meal, but not enough for leftovers after I’d eaten so lightly all day and was famished. So I just took my time and got through it all. 🙂

Coming home, I spotted this sign that could be placed in front of C&C’s house. Just replace “Junction” with the name of our hamlet!

Now, I need to sort out a bunch of stuff to arrive organised in Laredo tomorrow. Most importantly, I have to buy my Mexican truck insurance and find a place to print the documents (it might actually be easier to get the printer out of the truck…). I also have to find a hotel that won’t have me drive all the way across Laredo tomorrow only to have to drive all the way back on Tuesday morning since I’m crossing a little ways to the northwest of the city at a quieter crossing. Finally, I need to research that crossing and make sure I know exactly where it is. By the way, I refuse to get myself worked up over the crossing or to procrastinate on getting it over with. I have no reason to stay in Laredo more than a night and I firmly plan to be in Matehuala on Tuesday night!

Mérida or Bust — Day Four: It’s Sleetailowing in Amarillo, TX

I picked the perfect rest/work day. The weather has been some of the worst I’ve experienced in my life! It’s been sleeting/snowing/hailing/howling since last night. I would not have wanted to be on the road in this mess. Work is progressing steadily, but I’m actually considering staying a third night or at least requesting a late checkout tomorrow so I don’t have to work insanely late.

The hotel here was a really good choice. Despite being right by the interstate, it was dead quiet last night. I have good blackout curtains and while the bed is harder than I’d like, the mattress is good and not lumpy. So all that to say, I slept well. There was really good coffee waiting for me in the lobby when I got up and danishes so fresh and delicious I couldn’t resist! There’s really nowhere nearby to walk to get coffee and my coffee maker is buried somewhere in the truck, so I was very grateful this morning that I didn’t have to expend any effort to get a delicious brew.

I did go out at lunch to pick up a pizza at the Domino’s next door (almost blowing into Oklahoma as I raced across the parking lot) and then I screwed my courage to the sticking-place and drove less than 2KM roundtrip to pick up something quick for dinner. Yes, I drove that teeny distance. If that’s not proof of how vile the weather is, I don’t know what is!

Mérida’s insanely hot and humid forecast is looking so good right now. But, of course, I’m expecting to land when the temps are going to drop and rain is going to start. Seriously. I’m trying to figure out what Mother Nature is trying to tell me!

Mérida or Bust — Day Three: Castle Rock, CO, to Amarillo, TX

Total Kilometres to Drive: 5,400

Kilometres Driven Today: 630

Total Kilometres Driven: 1,860

Kilometres Left: 3,540

Amount of Trip Completed: 34.44%

It can be freaky how much people know about me because of what I write on the blog, but it also means hosts can make me a lovely dinner to my taste and serve me delicious things like this toasted coconut beer:

I may have fallen in love last night. 😀

I went to bed pretty early and was out the door by about 6:35. My host and some friends meet at Panera’s at 7:30, so I went there to get coffee and do internet stuff before she arrived so she could make some introductions. I forgot how expensive Panera is, but their coffee is good (I had a huge plain coffee, then a refill of hazelnut!) and they owed me a free birthday brownie. 🙂

I had to take a picture of this really odd coloured sky:

Pike’s Peak in the distance

My host showed up around 7:30 with goodies for the road — homemade cinnamon buns — with raisins! It wasn’t until I dug into them this afternoon that I realised there was chocolate in the bag too. 😀

By the time I left Panera’s it was about nine, much later than I’d planned to leave since I knew there was bad weather incoming and I was going to lose an hour. But I also had the wonderfully fast US interstate speeds working in my favour and only a six-hour drive to Amarillo. So I didn’t stress the late departure.

Of course, I didn’t make it far before the coffee had its revenge. I needed fuel anyway, so I picked an exit at random in Colorado Springs.

As it turned out, it was the exit with the Walmart on Razorback Road. So I popped in there to use the bathroom and get a gallon of drinking water, a Chap Stick, and a 98-cent pair of flip-flops. I love it when I can maximise a stop like that. I then went to a conveniently located gas station to get fuel. Fuel prices have been great, by the way, $2.50/gallon to start in Montana and I’m now at $2.19/gallon in Texas.

Some time later, stopped at a rest area in Colorado City, just after Pueblo:

(How are y’all liking the few photos I’ve taken so far on this trip? That’s my “new” iPhone 6 hard at work. I think I’m going to retire my beloved Pentax except for when I’m hiking or in a context where there is a possibility of breakage. I can’t believe the picture quality difference compared to my iPhone 5C!)

The sky was starting to look ominous. I didn’t dilly-dally and instead drove determinedly to and over the Raton Pass (7834 feet or 2388 meters elevation) into Raton, New Mexico. There, I stopped for a very quick bite since it started to snow! This was the real start of my adventure since I was heading east towards Texas instead of going southwest towards Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

The snow didn’t follow me, but very hard rain did. The sky cleared a tad as I crossed the Texas state line, but that didn’t last. I got a break long enough to not drown as I got fuel in Dalhart, but I came into Amarillo in pouring rain that is going to last all weekend. I think I’m travelling with a dark cloud over my head or something…

It had been a super easy day of driving to that point and the time had flown by. But Amarillo was a nightmare not dissimilar to Montreal, with tons of construction and piss-poor signage. My GPS somehow managed to find my hilarious looking hotel (I’ll share a pic after I checked out). My room was a ridiculous 47CAD for the night (booking.com “genius member” perk), so I had very low expectations. Therefore, I was delighted to find a very clean and recently updated room with a fresh bathroom, good WiFi, a mini fridge, and the ability to back up right to my door. Soon as I confirmed that I had enough work to fill tomorrow, I paid for a second night!

I was famished by this time and there was no way I was getting back into my truck, what with the mess of construction outside, even if it was pouring rain. So I pulled on my rain gear and schlepped across the street, under the overpass, and a ways left to the Cracker Barrel (less than 1KM distance). Every time I decide on Cracker Barrel for dinner, I think, “Rae, you’re smarter than that,” and every time, I come out delighted and with no regrets. You just have to order smartly. Tonight, I had a pork chop (honey mustard on the side), with mac & cheese and their brand new Brussels sprout and kale salad! OMG, that was so delicious. 🙂 I’ve been insatiably parched for days and two of their not-too-sweet and made with real lemons lemonade helped immensely with that. I got a third to go to enjoy tomorrow (no extra charge!). 🙂

So I’m in Amarillo through to Sunday morning. Laredo is a much too long hop from here, so I’ll stop somewhere partway that will let me get to Laredo not too late on Monday and have time to do any final preborder things I need to do (like get truck insurance and pesos). That would put me crossing the border on Tuesday, May 2nd, and, as long as things continue to go so smoothly, I’ll be in Mérida by this time next week!

I just hope this weather stops. Pardon the French in this, but isn’t Siri a great personal assistant?! 😀