Day 7/8 — Border, fog, frustration, arrival
Day 7, we went to our storage unit in Laredo, packed up the car and headed to the border. The customs guys pulled us over and rummaged around in our car to discover our four cases of wine. Two cases over the duty-free limit that a person is allowed to bring in. We knew this was a risk and we had to pay a 90% duty on the value of the wine. The customs’ office credit card machine was broken but luckily my husband had enough pesos stashed to pay the import fees. We finished there around 11 and were on target to get to our hotel early. We were looking forward to free beer coupons at the Fairfield Inn, Saltillo, and thought we might even have time to run on the treadmill. Weather was a drizzly wet one, with some fog.
We started getting stuck in traffic South of Monterrey. A young Mexican guy in a car next to us motioned for me to roll down our window. When I did, he said, “So you like the Cubs on purpose?” He had seen our Cubs sticker and evidently was also from Chicago. We exchanged the usual, “Next year!” comments. The traffic stopped and we were foiled by a wreck from entering the toll road (cuota) and shuttled by the police onto the free road (libre), which was pretty much at a standstill. Our navigation told us we would arrive around 5 p.m. After not moving and breathing diesel fumes for some hours, we drove across the median and headed back to Monterrey, where we followed directions to the cuota, hooray. By then it was already about 5 p.m., and the fog was getting thick. By the time we got to the toll plaza, the road was closed and workers told us it would be closed at least until tomorrow, due to fog, and to return to Monterrey. En route, I called to make a hotel reservation (“marca uno para ingles,” thank goodness) while my husband navigated the insane traffic.
So we landed at the Wyndham Garden hotel in a giant suite, where we gratefully collapsed after a dinner in the hotel’s little restaurant.
Day 8, we left early, with plenty of time to make it to Ajijic before dark. The weather had cleared and we encountered only a tiny bit of the prior night’s fog. Of course, we then came to a traffic standstill, probably due to construction (hard to tell what causes these things). Everyone was getting out of their trucks (mostly semi-trucks; only a few of us passenger vehicles) and using the the highway to relieve themselves (no comment of whether we did or not). This delayed us at least an hour and after that, we were racing darkness to get to our destination.
More traffic stoppages, some rain, and potholed roads extended our driving time. We rolled into Ajijic well after dark. We unloaded our car into our AirBnB and rushed over to Casa Domench for dinner — we missed the music but luckily the owner and kitchen staff had not gone home yet. We were fed, we drank wine and we were happy to be back.