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.