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Mexico FAQ

25 April 2009
Dave Clingman

Finally, we are in Guadalajara, Mexico, setting up our new home.

The trip south was not uneventful.  In fact, it was quite an adventure.  That is what Andrew and I kept reminding each other, so that we didn't get too frustrated or depressed with all that went wrong.

We departed Coarsegold on Saturday, April 11.  Six or seven miles down the road, we pulled over to check the straps holding the car onto the tow dolly, and we discovered that the wheels of the car were smoking.  I had left the parking brake engaged.  Yikes.  When we reached Havasu, Arizona that evening, the car's brakes were very bad.  In Flagstaff, Arizona a couple days later, the repair bill was just short of three hundred dollars.  That is one very expensive mistake.

The van (RV) brakes were also acting up, but the place wanted twelve hundred dollars just for labor, plus parts.  We decided to continue with the van brakes as they were.  In Mazatlan, we finally got the front right brake replaced for just over one hundred twenty dollars USD (U. S. Dollar), one-tenth the quote in Flagstaff, and that included the parts, which were one third of the total cost.  It was nice to save that much money.  Now the van brakes are great.  Previously, we had to refill the fluid each morning, and then I would have to pump the brakes before I could stop the van, quite a scary thing in traffic.

During our drive, we stopped for four nights in or near Flagstaff, partly for the brake repair, partly to visit
Grand Canyon, and partly just to relax.  I also hurt my back the second day of the trip, and I am still recovering from that, nearly two weeks later.  It is slow healing when one doesn't take care of the injury and give it time to heal.

Our next stops after Flagstaff were two nights north of and in Nogales, the border town in Arizona.  We entered Mexico on Saturday, April 18.  If we had delayed one more day, we would have had to wait until Monday, since they supposedly do not allow RV's to enter Mexico on Sunday (don't know why).

Most nights
we parked at truck stops or large gas stations.  We paid for two nights in Arizona, one in Flagstaff and one near Nogales.  That gave us a chance to empty the waste tanks and refill with fresh water, as well to charge the van's battery which runs everything when we aren't connected directly to electricity.

Entry into Mexico was a bit of paper work and expense registering the van and car, but we had no major problems.  I had to get a special waver on my car, since it is has a Salvage registration tag, meaning that it had previously (before I purchased it) been totaled in a wreck and rebuilt.  But I got that waiver without hassle, just an extra five minutes of time.

Our next stop was near Guaymas, Mexico.  Andrew kept pronouncing it as Guyamas.  Nothing special there, except that it was Andrew's first time in Mexico, and his first churro (my favorite fried treat).

The next two nights we stayed in an RV park in Mazatlan for about twenty dollars US per night.  Driving the van through Mazatlan was a bit tight, but we made it with only one crash.  I didn't see the damage, as I was busy inside the van looking for the Mexico insurance and van registration papers while Andrew spoke with the owner of the car that our van's mirror hit.  Andrew got back in and said there was no damage, that the car's mirror simply folded in as it was supposed to do.  Thank you, God!

One more night before Guadalajara we stayed at Tepic, and then we finally arrived here in GDL (Guadalajara) on Thursday afternoon.

Friday we drove into downtown GDL to look at
the TESOL school and then view a bit of of downtown.  Andrew is very excited about going back to school to learn to teach English to others.  I am not as excited and am now not even sure I'll take the eleven hundred dollar course.  I might be able to get a visa permit to work the same business I did back in Coarsegold, repairing computers.  If so, there is no good reason to take the course, other than for the fun of it.  But that would be an expensive fun.  So, I may end up not taking the course at all.

This morning I woke with a severe cough and have slept most of the day.  I am still not feeling well.  This is not like anything else I can remember experiencing, the way it began, but it seems to be working itself into a bit of a cold, mostly just real bad coughing and a very sore throat.

So, we are safely here in GDL and are set up in the same RV park that one of my clients lives at in their RV for most of each year.  It is a simple set up, but the people are very nice, as people are in most of Mexico, Mexicans and people from USA alike.  We will stay here probably a couple of months, and then when we return from our commitment ceremony in June, we might see if we can find a nicer or less expensive place to live.  We'll be considering renting a house or apartment, as well as simply finding a different RV park.  I hear that sometimes a house can be rented for even less than a space in an RV park costs.  RV parks are mostly for the rich Americanos, which means they can charge more.

Classes begin on Wednesday, May 6, the day after the Mexico Independence Day of Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May).  It will be interesting to see our first celebration here.  We both experienced Canada Day last June in Jasper, Alberta, and Andrew had his first Fourth of July in Washington, D. C. last year.

On June 11, we'll fly back to Fresno for the
commitment ceremony on June 13, followed by a couple of days on the coast of California.  Then we'll return to GDL and see what kind of teaching position Andrew can get.  I hope I'll already have some clients near here at nearby Chapala Lake, where thousands of people from USA and Canada and Europe live.

Read update 5 May 2009

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