Por fin! We are finally here! We are in Victoria Trailer Park in Ciudad Victoria. It’s really a lovely haven in the midst of a smallish city, complete with grass, trees, interesting occupants who speak a mixture of German, French, and English, and a very nice little kitty for the kids to play with. The best treasure, by far, has been the woman who runs (and owns) the place, Rosie. Nuestra maestra. Rosie is a Mexican woman who is very social and walks from site to site talking with everyone and collecting the day’s rent as there is no office. She and her husband have RV’d around the US quite a bit and both speak English fluently. She has been a teacher and a lawyer and now seems to have settled on the work of renting her lovely property to vagabonds of the Northlands. When she got to us, we were just starting to set Poppi up (we have affectionately named our pop-up Big Poppi). She had a timeless air about her and shared how they used to have a similar rig in their early days (we get this quite often, mostly from older guffers who are now pulling tyrantasauruses). Then she was quietly watching the kids hustle around with their work with a big smile on her face. I figured she must want some money, so changed the subject and asked her how much it was to stay here. She shrugged off my question and said “Let me watch the children, we can talk about that later”. I took a deep breath and realized I was still going light years faster than the culture I was now in and settled down to helping. Rosie stayed and watched the whole process, saying “Andale! Andale!” to the kids whenever they didn’t respond to a request from us for more help. Rosie did eventually get her money. It was much later and after many conversations.
We discovered upon setting up that we had no electricity, heat, or power in Poppi. This being our very first night in Mexico, we were a bit discouraged. Enter Rosie……she was by now at another site laughing and carrying on with them. I told her we had a problem with our rig and she was very worried. She hustled over and Chris explained our dilemma in Spanish. Half way through Rosie said, “Aye! God Bless, that is all! You have your health! God Bless! I thought something was wrong with you! Just lights and heat! You can run cords in and turn them on, but your health! God Bless!” She told us how a man had had a heart attack one night and how his wife had begged Rosie to get him an airplane to a hospital in the US. Rosie that in Mexico, no matter how much money you have, this doesn’t happen. The traveler continued to insist and told Rosie she could buy her whole campground and house with all the money she had. In the end, an ambulance was called; the man lived, and was flown to the US the following day. Rosie told us she would get an electrician in the morning and not to worry. This was a relief to Chris who was reminded of how everything seems to find a way to get fixed while in Mexico, whether it is cars, air conditioners, or pop-ups. He calls this the art of Mexican improvisational repair, since people don’t buy new things, they repair what they have.
There are differences in the camping scene we noticed right away. Of the 15 some odd rigs here, all are smaller. Many people are driving vans, and others pulling smaller sized trailers (I haven’t seen any 5th wheels here). No tents or other pop-ups, but I’m sure they are out there. The campers seem a bit younger than the snow birds we have shared RV sites with in the Southern US. They include many Canadians and Europeans who don’t seem to share the opinion of Americans that Mexico is unsafe for camping.
We are realizing that we have grown quite accustomed to a very high level of “security and protection” living in the USA- law enforcement and licensing agencies protecting us from bandits, bad drivers, contaminated water, tainted food, people of loose morals, deviants, corrupt businesses, and all of the other “boogie men” who might complicate our lives. All of this comes at a price of course- one is the trepidation of living/travelling outside of the “security sphere” in foreign places such as –you got it---South of the Border in Mexico. Who is going to protect us from the “boogie men” down here???? The challenge in front of us is to get over the fear of the unknown, to adapt to a place that has a very different sense of what “security” means, and arrive at the place where we can enjoy and live in the moment- as Carl Franz says, “wherever you go, there you are”. We’ve made our pleas to all of the gods and Saints of travelers to cover our bases and will now depend on blind luck, the hospitality of the Mexican people and our own ability to adapt to changing surroundings to keep us safe in our journey. !Vayamonos con Dios!!!
The Preparation Blues
We arrived in Southeast Texas after 3 days of driving from Tucson, taking secondary roads south out of Van Horn, Texas and taking our time driving via Marfa, Alpine, Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Carrizo Springs enjoying the sites at a slower pace than I-10 would allow us. We saw Javelina, bountiful numbers of birds of prey, Antelope, Deer, Armadillo, and smaller birds along the way and great countryside. We then found ourselves stuck in a Super 8 motel room for 3 nights while a cold front came through complete with winds and showers before finally camping out our last night at the Americana Birding RV site. We used this down time to make our final arrangements- Mexican car insurance, changing money, porta-potty, and books for the kids, and stuff we just knew we needed! The final morning, Jan. 20th, the RV site had a power surge which blew out the entire park’s electrical system and seemed to have fried something in our wiring system. OOPS! Anyway, after taking everything apart here in Ciudad Victoria and reconnecting it, it seems we have everything back except for lights and furnace. We’ll tinker a little more with the batteries and cables and then move on down the road seeing if it cures itself. Anny thought a little Echinacea in the battery couldn’t hurt and I’ve lit some candles at the trailer altar- we’ll also keep our fingers crossed. We’ve got it covered!
We closed down the pop-up the last morning not knowing we had suffered any damage during the power outage in the morning (the power was still out when we left). We did a final walk through a small Bosque of trees to see some birds and get a little exercise, then stopped at a Casa de Cambio before the border crossing to change some money. Then over the bridge above what is left of the Rio Grande after thousands of miles of USA siphoning and despoiling efforts to the Aduana of Mexico. Here we were assisted in our efforts to adjust to our new time and life paradigm by the helpful employees of Mexican Immigration. Gracias a Dios, we were the only people there so things went smoothly! First we got our pasaportes stamped- only 15 minutes. Then we needed copies made of our car Title and licenses by the official copier at the Aduana- this took a little longer due to mechanical difficulties. It appears the copier was low on ink and then lunch happened so this took about 30 minutes to complete. Then on to the Banco/Paperwork oficina where we made a deposito to ensure we would not sell our car or trailer in Mexico and get our official paperwork. We had almost completed this part when the person realized that Anny was the owner of the Toyota and thus we could not pass go, could not move on but must go directly to the copier position again to make more copies. We trundled over to that window only to find that that person had left- “no se, regresa pronto” was all anyone could tell us. After another 15 minutes I went outside to find him and noticed him chatting with folks at another building. Watching him, I realized that Buddha had placed him in our path early in our journey through this land to help us reset our sense of time. It was not a painless transition but at least we understood that there was a grand purpose for this seemingly endless waiting that would help us much in the months to follow. He finally returned and within 5 minutes had completed the necessary copying. Now back to station #3 where the Senorita put the final touches to our document before giving it to us. We were only there for 3 hours but we learned enough about ourselves and our need to slow down to last a lifetime.