Usually, I'm looking forward to the beautiful drive home - especially once I see the mountains
just north of Monterrey. For some reason, this trip I had a sense of dread, without reason.
I had turned in my eleven year old permit sticker to have my car in Mexico with the intent of getting a new sticker. The rules have changed somewhat and I didn't want any hassles. As I found out, however, when I did turn in the old permit, it was still valid and it was not a necessary thing to turn it in. I did anyway. Eleven years ago I paid $2.58 US. I didn't ask for a refund, ha.
Any business that I need to do at the border, I do on the first day before I attempt to cross on the second day with the destination of San Miguel. That way, if ever there would be a problem, the delay wouldn't be in the time I would be traveling as I always spend the night in Laredo. I then cross the following morning at around 7:30AM with an estimated arrival time in San Miguel de Allende of 4:30.
I've never had a problem at the Columbia Bridge checkpoint. It is northwest of Laredo and accessible from Hwy 35 with a huge sign. This time was no different to get a new temporary import permit. My concern was because of all the postings on the San Miguel Civil List. Some had reported that you could no longer get a car permit if you were anything other then a tourist. I was a little edgy. I don't know why I ever pay attention to those postings. Seldom has the information on their been valid.
I wasn't even at the checkpoint for longer then 15 minutes. I showed my FM-2 at Immigration where I was given an FMM just like when you fly in. Then I made copies of my Title, my FM-2, my Mexican and Texas driver licenses. Took that to the Banjercito window. The woman did stuff on the computer. Took my credit card and charged $200. US for the permit. She gave me the sticker to put on the windshield, the paperwork and I was outtathere. A parking lot attendant took the sticker and affixed it to my window. Done deal. I also read the big poster on the window of Aduana about the temporary import permit. As long as the FM-2 or FM-3 is continuous your permit automatically carries forward just as before. Nothing else you have to do. Just as before.
The next morning as I prepared to cross the border, I have a ritual. There is a service station with full service and I ALWAYS stop there to have them check the tires and whatever else under the hood. That guy, nor anyone else, was there that day so I reluctantly went to the Nuevo Laredo border crossing and did cross.
The system is green light - you go on. Red light, the Mexican customs people want to check your car.
I got a female customs agent who didn't even greet me. Highly unusual. They are usually extremely polite. So, she opened the back and said I needed to take everything out. I knew that wasn't going to happen. I pleaded ignorance as to what she was saying and off she went ..........she just left me standing there. I assumed she had gone to find someone who spoke English. There was so much going on and people all over the place, that I couldn't spot her. After waiting a few minutes without anyone coming up to me, I just closed the back - got in the car - and drove away. Nope, no one came after me.
At the 16 mile checkpoint, again I got a red light. That man spoke English. He said I needed to pull over. I told him that I had just had a red light at the border and that they had inspected the car. He then told me to go on and I didn't have to stop. Yee ha..........
An hour into the drive, still north of Monterrey, a wind driven dust storm began that went on for the next four hours. I mean to tell you, you could NOT see the sky, the mountain range or anything else other then the car in front of you. I held on for dear life to the steering wheel and just kept driving. At times the car was rocking from side to side like a sailboat. I've never ever experienced anything like it, thankfully.
Pretty scary and stressful.
I actually considered spending the night in Matehuala which is about 4 hours from San Miguel. Then I decided to press on and did so. Shortly after passing Matehuala the wind died and the rest of the trip was sunny and clear. Whew, I don't ever need to have that experience again.
Other then the two checkpoints I mentioned, there were no other stops. The roads for the most part are in great shape since the rainy season has long been over and any repairs have been completed.
I always love the drive - NOT this time!
I'm sure happy to be back home - even though I had a great time in Texas.