The Roadtrip Of A Lifetime
A little over two years ago, we started planning the move from Texas to Costa Rica. It was a lot of fun planning, a little nerve-racking wondering if I've got all the right supplies and necessities that we would need, from my kids medical records to my dogs medicine he takes on a daily, to a safety box. The entire process was a lot to take in, yet I knew if I kept moving forward and marking off my list of things, which never seemed to end, I would get there, sooner or later. We knew the trek was not going to be easy, but we knew it would create so many memories for us to have. Not only that, we wanted to see the countries firsthand, rather than just believe the hear-say on TV and have a fear for them.
On December 1st, 2017, we squeezed and hugged our kids' necks until we drove them crazy as well as our four dogs. First stop before we left Texas was my husbands favorite, Whataburger. He could eat it morning, noon and night. It took us about six hours (three hundred miles) to get to Loredo, Texas. We stayed at La Posada right next to the US/Mexican border. Everyone was very friendly and the hotel was clean. After checking in and getting our paperwork together, we head to the border where we get our vehicle permits.
Little did we know that after crossing the border onto the Mexico side, we forgot a very important piece of paperwork - the vehicle registration. No big deal, we head back across the border to retrieve the paperwork that was left behind in the truck which was parked at the hotel in Loredo. The line to get to Mexico was quick. It was the line coming back to Texas that took over an hour to cross. Before we knew it, day had turned into night as we stood in line.
Our first rule that we had for ourselves on the vey first day had been broken .. no traveling in the dark. Even if it was by foot. We finally get our paperwork and head back into Mexico for the second time. Here we were, on foot, walking behind the permit office on the roads that had no shoulder, in Mexico, with no street lights, on a Friday night. I basically ran without trying to look odd or like something was wrong. All I kept picturing was us getting shot by border patrol thinking we were trying to enter illegally. Once we showed the paperwork, we were able to get our permits and just like that, our first obstacle was crossed. We would be crossing the border the following morning. (I failed to note that we have a 2017 Toyota Tacoma that is being financed, so we do not have the original title to the car. However, we received a letter from our bank stating it would be okay to take our vehicle through these countries and were told it was just as good as the title.) We get to the border early and proudly show our paperwork.
Into Mexico we head towards San Luis Potosi. After about ten hours (420 miles) we make it to a Holiday Inn Express. I knew for sure we would stand out in Mexico having a new truck with luggage stacked. But to my surprise, it was and everyone else on the road. We blended right in. We passed army, police, and citizens and never once felt threatened. At the check-points, the officers would start and end the conversation with a handshake. Most not speaking English.
After hearing so many stories .. it was nice to see the opposite of what I have always been told. It was like a breath of fresh air. Just that alone, makes me wonder what else I have missed out on. I can still picture the look that the officers gave us after we would tell them our final destination. I don't know if it was a 'what the hell' look or 'cool, have fun', probably a little of both. You could tell it is not every day that they see gringos traveling from Texas to Costa Rica. Sheep were roaming the medians of the roads for grass, while the owners just stood and watched, not a care in the world. Workers were in the corn fields cutting down stalks with their machetes. Cowboys lined the roads with their horses. One of my favorite things that we came upon were ancient ruins, Xochitecatl, which was right before our next stop in Peubla, Mexico. The view from the top was absolutely remarkable. You could see the entire country, it seemed. It felt as if you could just reach your hand up and be able to touch the clouds. The air was so fresh. Then entire feel of being 'on top of the world', made me want to walk to the edge and throw my hands to my sides while looking up to the sky to mimic Rose in the film Titanic, while her and Jack rode on the front of the boat. Passing each marker, we would read the information written on the stone that would tell of the history. It truly is quite astonishing when you are able to put your life aside for that one moment and are think about those before us and the history that is under your feet.
We take in as much as one possibly can before we continue on our route to Puebla. While my husband drove, I was in charge of the radio and taking photos of spectacular views, which was not hard to come by, We passed mountains that took up the entire windshield, saw miles and miles of windmills, that were strategically placed so far apart, for as far as I could see, adobe houses that were stacked on the sides of the mountains, a snow-covered mountain, and agave plants that were planted in every open spot they could find, even if it meant on the top of the side of a mountain. We wondered how they would manage to get them planted.
One thing that did strike a surprise to me was all of the open land. Stores, gas stations and little mom and pop restaurants sat on the side of the road, near the shoulder of the road, every so many miles. You could just pull right in without having to get off of the main road. The thing I love most about adventure, is not knowing what is coming next around the corner. The ooh's and ah's never get old. Looking at the GPS, we notice that the hotel that we are supposed to be heading towards is getting further and further from our current location. Little did I know, I had booked a hotel in the wrong Puebla. I had no idea there were two. We quickly decide that we will just have to eat that money since the hotel was not near where we were, and we definitely didn't want to backtrack.
We were able to find another hotel closer to our route in a town called Tehuacan, Mexico. We stayed the night at Hotel Zenith until the following morning when we would head further into Mexico. We enjoyed getting to the hotels and walking around the town to get a feel for what it is like. Town center was a hopping place for the locals. Kids played with plastic bottles with rope tied to the top that they would pull behind them like little toy cars. Music filled the air. I just enjoyed watching all of the people in their own environment.
We never could make it to the hotels until dark, so it was always a nice surprise to wake up, pull the curtain back and see the shops, houses and mountains that went miles on end. It was like someone placed a National Geographic poster outside our window every night so we could view it every morning. It was surreal to wake up in a new town each day. We take in the views with more ooh's and ah's and get back on the road and head towards our next destination. We made sure to get gas and eat every opportunity we had, not knowing when the next chance would come along.
The further from the States we got, the less and less we would hear any English being spoken. We spot a small cafe along our route and stop for a quick lunch and stretch our legs. Generally we like to keep to ourselves, but we can feel when good energy comes along and we try to indulge in a small piece of that. We noticed a younger gentleman eating lunch across from us who happened to be reading a Mexico map. First thing first, we had to ask if he spoke English so we could ask him some questions about Mexico and the direction we were heading. We knew from experience, if he didn't, we would just be looking each other, smiling shrugging shoulders. Which is okay too. Little did we know, that we were about to be blown away by his story. He had flown from Belgium to Argentina with his bicycle. His goal was to bicycle from Argentina to Canada. I could hardly believe my ears. And I thought driving was courageous. Rain, sleet or snow, he was on his bicycle every day riding 80 KPH (roughly 40 miles). He did not have a phone, just a bicycle and a map to lead his way. Although our initial question was to see what route we should take while still in Mexico, that quickly veered off into questions like what countries were his favorite, how long had he been on the road, etc. He named Bolivia, Columbia and Peru as his top favs. He had been on the road for ten months when we had met him.
I simply could not imagine. Some, if not most, of the roads climbed up as tall as the mountaintops. It just really goes to show, that nothing is impossible. For it is only you, that limits yourself. The power of the mind is truly incredible. We gather the information that he has given us and decide to stop at the town he had suggested instead of driving a little further on like we originally intended. Next stop: Oaxaca, Mexico.