It’s down to 3 couples left here in Harlingen. Me and Carol Ann plus the Sweets and Coopers. We have eaten at a different restaurant almost every night and are tired of eating out. After one of our dinners I began turning to the right in leaving Appleby’s, only to be stopped by shouting from everyone in the car. The street was one way, to the left. Last night after we left Chili's Bob pulled along side and flagged me down. Carol Ann put her window down and Bob shouted, “Turn your headlights on!” I have to keep telling myself that I am no longer driving in Mexico!
We have invited the Coopers and Sweets over to our rig tonight for a potluck supper (we all have a lot of leftovers). We’ll eat, drink, play some card games, and talk about the other caravan members. Really, we talk about the group a lot. But it’s good talk! We keep saying things like, “I can’t believe how well the group got along together.”
When you take 35 people and send them off for 7 weeks into “Indian Territory” they tend to circle their wagons and learn to depend on each other for support. It reminds me a lot of Army Basic Training where you throw together a bunch of guys from different parts of the country and place them in a strange or hostile environment where they must learn to work together in order to survive. At the end of 8 weeks some very strong bonds have been made.
OK, our car. Everyone keeps asking about it. Well, we are waiting for Monday afternoon to call the Mexican insurance agent. She will tell us if the repairs have been completed and the car is ready for pickup. If she has received the bank transfer for the deductible she will “release” the car. The next call will then be to the transport company to let them know it is ready for pickup and transport, assuming of course, they have received a bank transfer for at least half of their fee ($45,000 pesos, or about $3,500 US).
The transport company estimates 36 hours of driving time from Merida to Matamoros, about 1,240 miles. One of the reasons for the seemingly high fee is to avoid “the possible interruption of service by federal authorities” (Google translator comes up with some rather weird translations). In other words, some of the fee will probably be used to “pay fines” that are levied by “federal authorities” along the route. I understand this has become a way of life for truckers in Mexico. They get pulled over for no apparent reason but are quickly back on the road again once they have paid the “fine” (usually about $10 pesos I am told).
I now have friends advising that I should not use the transport company because the fee is too high. They say that it would be much less expensive to hire someone to drive the car from Merida to the border. A couple of friends in one of our RV clubs used to live and work in Mexico and are calling around to try and get some names. Because of this, everything is still up in the air. However, it will all come crashing back to earth on Monday afternoon when a decision must be made.
I have used Google to find a few transportation companies that ship autos from Mexico to the US and have requested quotes from a couple. Most of them only ship via sea with the car in a container. I would imagine that this is even more expensive than transport by truck. It would also require that I pick the car up from the Port of Houston once it arrived (probably weeks later and about 140 miles each way).
I plan to stick my head in the sand this weekend and relax. Carol Ann and I both have been a little stressed-out this week and, anyway, we can’t do anything before Monday. It’s always manãna. Remember that I told you the dictionary says it means “tomorrow”, but it really means “not today”.