This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Day, Another Problem!

The day started out just fine.  Great weather.  I can see why so many people spend their winters down here.  There are huge RV parks all around the area and they are overflowing with “Winter Texans”.

This morning we rode down to the border with our new friends, Randy and Betty.  Randy once worked in refrigeration and agreed to take a look at my fridge (it wasn’t cooling properly when it switched from A/C to propane) when we got back from the border.  We were one of 4 or 5 vehicles to go.  We all crossed into Mexico and parked at the immigration building.  There was an armored car with what looked like a 16-year old soldier manning a machine gun turret on top.  I wondered if his mother knew that he was playing with guns.  It was probably my imagination, but the gun seemed to be pointed right at us.  I watched to see if it would track us as we walked to the building’s front door (it didn’t). 

Once inside, we formed a line in front of an immigration agent's counter.  The drill went like this:  One couple at a time would approach the counter and hand their passports over to the agent who would look through them, stamp them, stamp some other papers, and return the passports with a visa application form.  The man never uttered a word during this intense process. Which was fine because I don't speak a word of Spanish.

Our turn came and we went up to the counter, produced our passports, and received our visa application, which was all in Spanish. I swear, their was no English translation anywhere on the form. The first blank was labeled “Nombre,” so I filled in the space with my passport number (what other number could they possibly want).  Fortunately, before I could do further damage, one of our Wagon Masters (tour leader) came over to help (he spoke Spanish) and informed me that “Nombre” meant “Name”, not number.  You have to admit, though, that “Nombre” looks a lot more like “Number” than it does “Name!”

Once the form was completed, we took it back to the immigration agent who did some more stamping, tore the form into two pieces (it was perforated), stapled one part of the form to a sheet of paper printed in Spanish, and gave it back to me.  This, I understood, was my visa and I must not lose it.

Next, we were to drive a little further into Mexico to a money exchange and trade some greenbacks for some pesos.  Because Randy and Betty were still tied up getting their visas, we rode with Barry and Pat, a couple we met on our Copper Canyon Fantasy RV tour last March.  We got about $1.36 (MXN - New Mexican Pesos) for each US dollar, which I was told was a good rate.

After exchanging the money, Barry told us that he needed to run by Home Depot and Camping World to pick up a few things.  This was fine with me.  I can always find something I need in either of those two places.  It turned out that Camping World was almost 50 miles away in Mission, TX.  I think between Barry and myself we might have spent $15 - $20, for which we traveled over 90 miles in order to do so.

We got back to the RV Park a little after 1 PM and that was when the day began to suck.  Randy came over as promised and checked out my fridge (Dometic side-by-side with ice and water dispenser in the door).  It is an RV refrigerator, or “absorption” refrigerator, that applies heat to ammonia (in a sealed circuit).  The ammonia vaporizes, rises in the tube, cools, and condenses back to liquid.  Somehow this makes the inside of the refrigerator cold.  The ammonia can be heated with either an electric heating element or a propane burner.  My problem was that the propane burner would light but immediately go out, light again and immediately go out again.  Randy said I probably needed a new thermocouple.  If not that, then a new circuit board.  This was very bad.  Even though the fridge would still operate on electricity, I will need to depend on propane most of the time in Mexico because RV park electricity down there is not always dependable.  To have the fridge repaired, Randy suggested I take it to…………(guess where!)  Yes, Camping World!  At least I now knew where it was.  I called them and was told to bring it in at 10 AM tomorrow and they would do their diagnostics thing on it and IF they had the parts would have me back on the road in less than 3 hours! 

So, in the morning, I will disconnect the coach’s life support systems (water, power, and sewerage) and drive it the almost 50 miles to Camping World.  Did I say we had two of our seven cats with us on the trip? We had planned on bringing three cats but the third one must have known what was in store and hid from us.  Our house sitter would have to look after him. We’ll have to put them in their carriers and close them up in the bathroom while the fridge is being repaired.  Carol Ann will follow me in the car (too much trouble to hook-up, un-hook, re-hook, and re-un-hook).  I guess while the coach is in the shop we will go shopping and see if we can find some more things that we didn’t know we needed yet for the trip.

1 comment :

Croft said...

Well, you have had more excitement in one day than we have had in 24 months of wandering the backroads of Mexico!

I wonder if the banditos are reading the caravan's itinerary on the Internet? "Humm, 18 rich gringos will be on this stretch of road Thursday afternoon! Let's go meet them!"