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Sep 13 2011

What do you say…..

Published by under Blog Article

…when you get asked over and over again about travelling to Mexico?  We all have answers and these change from time to time depending on current events.  A fellow blogger, Croft, received an inquiry on his blog and chose to answer in a post.  With his permission I reprint his answer posted September 6, 2011.  Great basic common sense advice Croft.  Be sure to check the comments on his post as others have added some good advice also.

Dear Croft’s Mexico

Sandy and Darrel, a couple from BC wrote to ask my advice for their first RV trip to Mexico. I sent them answers to their specific questions and also offered some unsolicited advice. After thinking about it, I decided to reprint my letter in the Blog. It might be of interest to others contemplating their first trip South Of The Border. I am sure many others will argue with some of my statements but this has been our experience with this beautiful country.

Hi Sandy and Darrel,

First of all, thanks for following our adventures. You will love Mexico and you have the perfect rig for Mexican roads and RV parks.

Our medical insurance comes from our Desjardins Visa card company in Quebec. It is the only one we have used and are very happy with it. Norma broke her hip in Tucson several years ago and they flew us both home in a Lear Jet for repairs and then back to Tucson to pick up the motorhome.

Vehicle insurance comes from Mexico Bob’s San Xavier Mexico Insurance in Arizona. We have found them very reasonable and if you have been following the Blog, you know we have had three claims. They have paid everything. Also remember you can get a refund from ICBC for all the time you are in Mexico. Just keep all the receipts you can to prove you were out of their jurisdiction.

As far as border crossings, we always enter Mexico at Lukeville, AZ / Sonoita, MX. This is because we visit friends in Yuma on the way down and also get glasses in Algodones, just across the border from Yuma. Lukeville is an easy crossing and is a short days drive to Edgar and Anna’s Punta Vista RV Park in Santa Ana. Coming back, we have used Lukeville, Laredo, TX (Columbia Crossing) and El Paso, TX (wouldn’t cross here again – Juarez is scary). The same rules apply going in either direction. Cross as early in the morning as you can and do not spend the night on the MX side near the border. The best method heading north is to spend the night about 100 KM from the border in MX, wake up early and get to the crossing before 10:00 AM or so. We have never had a problem, this is just the recommended method and that is what we do.

Also, have several sources of cash available. We have three debit cards as well as four credit cards. We have had several cards compromised over the years while in Mexico as well as one ATM card swallowed by an ATM. None of this has cost us anything but just in case it happens again we carry lots of cards. Mexico is a cash economy so do not think you can depend on credit cards for day to day expenses. Buy pesos as soon as you cross and please do not try to use USA dollars.

The drug violence is just that – drug violence – and does not affect RVers. Having said that, we always use common sense, stay out of drug areas and late night bars, don’t drive around at night, don’t flash money around…. Pretty much the same as we do at home. “Situational Awareness” as my retired US Military friend Belgique calls it. There have been more RVers murdered in Canada (2) in the last few years than in Mexico (0). Do not believe everything you see on FOX News.

If there is anything else we can help with or explain further, just email! You also might want to join this Mexico RVing Forum.

The following is my response to a followup email:

In the USA we use T-Mobile pay as you go cell phone and in Mexico we have a Telcel pay as you go phone, both very cheap to buy and load with time but expensive if you have to use them to call Canada. Skype is our main method for calling home. Walmart in the USA sells another very cheap pay as you go cell plan. Unless you have an unlocked SIM type phone, you will have to buy phones for each country but they are cheap.

We also bought a Telcel Internet Broadband stick for Mexico. It offers 3 GB of data for about $300 pesos a month. Coverage is excellent! We also have a Virgin Broadband stick for the USA. They are all pay as you go.

WIFI coverage is fairly good in Mexico with most RV parks having WIFI of varying quality. Usually you have to take your computer to the office or some other designated area. There are Italian Coffee Company stores everywhere that have WIFI as well as many hotels and restaurants. We just got tired of carrying the laptop around and bought the Telcel Broadband plan. It worked everywhere.

Be sure to buy a copy of the Travelers Guide to Mexican Camping by Mike and Terri Church. You can order it from their website or get it from This book is indispensable for Mexican RVers. It gives directions to and descriptions of every RV park in Mexico. You will not be able to find most RV parks without it. Do not go without it, you cannot buy it in Mexico (unless you run into Mike and Terri as we have three times)!

Take lots of reading material, English books are very expensive and hard to find in MX. Take extra RV supplies (white hose, in line water filter, toilet chemicals, sewer hose) as they are not sold in MX. Be sure to have at least two 20 / 30 amp converters as 95% of RV park outlets will be the three prong household type. Be sure you can plug in. I also carry enough oil and a filter to be able to change the oil once in MX.  There are many roadside mechanicos who will do it for a few pesos if you have the parts. Multi grade oil is hard to find in MX and synthetic oil is impossible to get. Take a gallon of distilled water from the USA for your batteries. It is not available in MX.

Plan on using your generator much more than in Canada or the US as power is not as dependable in MX. For example, in Merida every three spots share one 20 amp breaker! If a park is crowded there is a good chance voltage will be as low as 99 volts. Get a cheap meter from Canadian Tire and learn how to use it.
Mexican butter does not taste anything like ours. I can get used to it but Norma hates it and stocks up the freezer with butter in the USA. Beer and Chilean wine is reasonable in MX but if you drink scotch, take it with you. Every city of any size has a Walmart Superstore and Mega is the other large grocery outlet. There are quite a few Sam’s Clubs.

Experiment with food. Do not be afraid to eat at street taco stands. If you have not traveled much you might get a intestinal infection. It is not a big deal and will not last long. We take Imodium with us but pharmacias are very good and carry almost everything we get at home although with a Spanish name. It is recommended to get a Hepatitis A (corrected – thanks Kathe) shot before you go and we did. Mexico is not “dirty”, in fact restaurants are usually spotless. Eat in the centros and squares. I love Mexican restaurants! They never rush you and you only get a bill when you ask for it, “La cuenta, por favor”. You can sit at a table on the square (“jardine”) for hours and watch the young people. It is a great way to spend an evening. In MX we dine out an average of once a day, maybe more. You can dine out cheaper than buying and preparing food in the RV.

We use taxis most of the time as streets are narrow and confusing and parking is difficult in the cities. It also lets you have that second (third?) glass of wine. Cabs are very cheap but establish the charge before you get in the cab as the (very) odd one will try to overcharge.

Like you say, our paths will likely cross. Mexico is a small country!

Added:Another thought I should share. To be clear, we have never had a problem with crime in Mexico. One attempted (failed) camera snatching in Guadalajara and one smooth talking con artist who “needed” to “borrow” $400 pesos to pay school fees in San Miguel de Allende (successful). But that could happen anywhere.
However, our friend Les was robbed at gunpoint in his motorhome in a gas station. Les is a retired British Bobby and had the good sense to have a “dummy” wallet. It is an old wallet with two or three hundred pesos plus an expired credit card and a few old business cards in it to make it look real. He carries it on the front consul. When the bad guy stuck his gun in the window and demanded money. Les grabbed the fake wallet, threw it out the window and when the robber bent over to pick it up, drove off. This is what I am going to do from now on, carry a fake wallet. T

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Dec 21 2010

The 20th, a very long day!

Published by under Blog Article

From hair cuts to a solar eclipse with a party in between!  It almost took all day today to recover and write about Monday.  Not quite true because today was another day of adventure but more about that another day!  Si?  Si!

Colin & l dropped the laundry off and headed off to the embarcadero.  Somehow we always miss the boat, but another is never far behind.  Despite leaving almost 25 minutes late we arrived just on time for our 11AM appt.  I think the use of water taxis & pulmonias beats four lane traffic hands down!  We are learning that somehow, no matter the time, we always get there right when we are suppose to.

In fact Antonio arrived 5 minutes late, giving us a few moments to stop and enjoy our surroundings. The salon is in the green building. As I'm still new at this blog stuff I forgot to take photos..perhaps just as well.

While I had my hair colored & cut Colin scurried about to 4 different stores looking for specifics for our latest RV problem ( again, another story on another post). Then he had his hair cut.  Color 250 pesos, each cut 100 pesos, so for less the 45.00 CAD we were spruced up for Christmas.  Great looks for a great price.  While rushing back to the panga ferry we noticed the crowds out doing their Christmas shopping.

A fellow was selling a variety of shrimp sizes right on the street corner!

Lots of on the street sales

Then back to the RV for a quick snack and some RV maintenance.  Suddenly it’s time to head over for a raffle party.  The second RV park here at Tres Amigos had organized a raffle to raise even more money for the Christmas hampers here on the Isla.  Between the two raffles and private donations we have raised 13,000 pesos.  That is close to 1300.00 USD, which will fill a great deal of food hampers.  Well done everyone!  However not only did RV2 organize the raffle they put on a great party to celebrate the winners.  A wonderful way to start off our Christmas celebrations.  Mucho gracias!

Hey thats me in the white, on the right, great hair cut!

The draw...lots of rules, only 2 prizes per family, no pets...whew...but very fair

Drew choses an original painting by Marilyn!!

Just a small section of the feast...fresh sushi...does it get any better?

Even Mother Nature participated with another outstanding show!

This post is getting rather long so I shall put the solar eclipse on the next post…..see you there!

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Dec 16 2010

A typical morning, Tuesday the 14th!

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Life just seems to happen here in paradise.  No real plans, just the ebb & flow of thoughts & time.  Last night I thought I would start a pot of homemade beans today.  Instead, this morning, I decided to make halibut chowder so when the veggie truck came I bought what I needed.

Chowder or beans?

After coffee in the garden, Colin decided to head out to the shrimp market, he wanted shrimp for dinner.  So he & Carl (our neighbor) started off.  They took the panga over to Mazatlan only to find a lack of shrimp at the ‘shrimp store’ so they decided to take a pulmonia to the shrimp ladies.  This is an area near Centro where several stands are set up just to sell shrimp, the vendors are all women… this point I have to add that Colin ( Mr. Professional Photographer) did have my camera in his pocket but neglected to take any photos.  Guess he’s on holiday!  He says that if it’s not hanging around his neck, it’s not a camera. They each got a kilo of shrimp @ 140pesos/kilo, no negotiating.  The ladies were being tough today.  I think it has to do with a lack of shrimp this winter.  They were sitting in the water taxi, ready to come back to the Isla, when suddenly coming down the ramp is their pulmonia driver…. unbeknowst to them, Carl had dropped his wallet getting out of the taxi.  The driver returned the entire wallet intact, complete with several thousand pesos, credit cards & ID.  The guys had tipped him well when they got out!  Nice ending to their morning adventure. Oh but the adventure doesn’t stop there…the boys decided to pick up our laundry and ended up at a seahorse farm on the Isla.

There are many tanks of these critters but there were only 3 today. The owner said to come back in a month. We will get the story of a sea horse farm on the Isla then.

After cleaning the shrimp, yes I CLEANED the shrimp….

I went to meet the family as they returned from a beach stroll.

Can you see Caeli's head, just in front of Colin?

Looks like this is turning into a typical ‘day’ blog versus the title of a typical morning.  The sunset was extraordinary, off the charts in the ratings.  Here are a few shots that I took and honestly these are not touched up or highlighted at all.  What the camera saw is what you are seeing.  I myself am surprised at the beauty.

Cruise ship heading south to Acapulco!

Colin took this one a little later. The photo has a story to tell!

…and finally, the shrimp dinner which started this post!  The meal like the day simply evolved from simple to a wee bit more, well lets just say..more!

Somewhere between the pineapple, the onion and the zucchini are the shrimp

So ends another day that just happened!

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