January 13, 2014

by Stephen Jan in Nogales, Mexico

Time: 22 Days

Distance: 4,047 miles

Odometer: 310,334 miles

Nogales Kilometer 21 is the final checkpoint before entering Mexico proper. There, travelers, truckers, and other law abiding citizens clear customs and stamp passports. The inspector at the station told us that he was expecting us. He explained that the commander who had allowed us to pass had called ahead, and encouraged everyone to checkout the crazy ambulance driving to patagonia. The official was so excited to see our vehicle, that he spent more time taking iPhone selfies than actually inspecting our vehicle. That worked out for us as we were carrying fresh fruit and more than our allowable wine in a vehicle who’s weight class exceeded the allowable limit for a non commercial vehicle crossing at Nogales.

While the impossible-to-miss ambulance managed to escape customs scrutiny, the unremarkable Jeep Grand Cherokee got a thorough check. Much to Stephen Alexis’s disappointment, the inspector confiscated his Bag O’Fun. The team’s arsenal of fireworks was reduced to two roman candles, a couple sparklers, and a little pack of fountain shooters.

Minden stop

We expected our first Mexican city, Hermosillo to greet us with sights of sombreros, chimichangas, and mariachi bands playing on the streets. Imagine our surprise when the most noticeable signs in the city were Walmart, Autozone and Sams Club. Not to be out done, KFC, Starbucks, and Burger King have also made they way down across the border and splashed their logos all over. We stopped the car at Seven Eleven, across the street from the McDonalds to use WiFi.

Minden stop

With a one star yelp review, Faraon Hotel really wasn’t recommended by anyone. The 1 star was well deserved as it was neither comfortable, nice, nor convenient. What it did have was an enclosed parking space, and we did save two dollars over the hotel up the block. The walls were thin, lighting dim, and water was luke warm at best. Throughout the night, we could hear a odd mix of American and Mexican pop blaring from an old pickup parked across the lot. With all the commotion, you’d think there was a fiesta going on. But every time we poked our heads out, we spotted one lonely fellow drinking a beer with his lady friend, giving us the “What are you looking at?” stare. Clearly, they weren’t looking for curious eyes to glance in their direction. I found it Odd that their version of being inconspicuous was to rent a shady motel room, blast music from their car, and prop their hotel room door wide open.

Minden stop

Martha took us out for a walk and explained that taqerias will be an ubiquitous sight in every city, town and village south of Nogales. Within a 2 block radius of our hotel, we discovered 3 taqerias serving pork, cheese and cow face tacos. A cow face taco stand will have a cheese cloth covering a large pot. The pot contains various pieces of a cow face. The taco filling is made from a facial organ of your choosing: tongue, brain and even eyeball. I opted out of cow face tacos but ordering would be especially easy as all I’d have to do is point to my own face and order “taco”.

Minden stop