Trip out of Mexico: Day 1

This log should include the days leading up to day 1 to start with.

Day 1 minus 3
Saturday we worked to get the last of our items sold that we needed to get out from under so that we could move everything back to the US that we had left. The garage sale went somewhat well, but we did not get rid of everything we needed to.

We packed up most of the trailer on Saturday evening. We could not get everything packed and sealed up until at least Sunday night or Monday morning. Things progressed well with the packing as much as we could do up to that point. In fact, we packed so compactly that we had more room than stuff. Ultimately we did find enough stuff to pack into the holes we had left.

Day 1 minus 2
Sunday I was able to get my long run for the week done. I love that church does not start until 11:00 at our church in Merida. I ran my 8 mile long run and really enjoyed being able to focus on something other than packing for a couple of hours. I took the opportunity to run in some areas of town I don’t normally frequent. Being Sunday morning I did not expect much traffic on my run. For the most part it was pretty clear.

After church we went and grabbed a quick lunch. I had become quite preoccupied with the tires and slightly bent axle on our trailer. The old tires were pretty chewed up and there was not much tread left on one of the tires. This was actually the cause of lack of sleep Saturday night. But Sunday afternoon I took the trailer to a friend of mine to see what could be done about straightening the axle before putting on new tires. I was very disappointed when he told me I would have a hard time finding tires since it was an odd size in Mexico. These trailer tires are so common in the US you can find them at any Wal-Mart, but apparently not common at all in Mexico. We even considered the possibility of adapting my axle to accept different wheels or replacing the axle altogether. That is what I got to mull over while sitting in church Sunday night.

After the evening service we got together with a group of friends for a meal. One of the pastors had some ideas of where I might be able to get tires for my rims. On Monday morning he was able to give me phone numbers to call.

Day 1 minus 1
We were supposed to leave Monday. The earlier the better, but were determined that if we could have left before 5:00 pm we would still have enough time to get a couple of hours down the road and not have to push so hard the rest of the week. We are trying to be home by Saturday afternoon. We will see how the week progresses.

I had an appointment with a man at 10:00 to come and buy the rest of the items we had for sale. While waiting for him I called tire shops and finally found some tires that would fit. They were not terribly expensive, but about twice what I would have had to pay in the US. I also got a chance to sell a few more items. The man I was supposed to meet with did not show up by 10:40 so I called his work and got his cell number. He told me he would be there in an hour or so. I emphasized to him when I first set up the appointment how critical it was that he be on time since I did not live at the place where the items were stored and I was really crunched for time. That apparently meant nothing to him. I asked him to call me when he was close and I would run some errands while waiting for him. He finally showed up an hour and 40 minutes late. Typical. I also ended up not selling anything to him. He was only interested in 2 items and offered me only 1/3 of what I was asking.

Then to the other end of town I went to pick up the tires. I grabbed them and met my friend who helped me the day before and we took the tires to be mounted. After the mounting process, he insisted that I have the axle fixed. I knew at this point our departure was in jeopardy. Fortunately the process of bending the axle into place only took about 30 minutes at the local alignment shop.

Back home to finish packing and hit the road. I did not get back to the house until 3:30. We did not finish packing the trailer until 6:00. So much for leaving Monday.

We went and had a nice meal that night and also picked up a few more items that would help keep our stuff dry in the trailer. The trailer is a simple flat bed with a short rail around it. We built a 4′ X 8′ X 4′ plywood box on it. With the extra time I was able to caulk all the joints and do a pretty good job of wrapping the box in a tarp. The biggest issue is that if we have to open the box for any military, police or customs checkpoints, I will probably never get it sealed up as well as it is now.

Day 1
We got up at 5:30 with the goal of having the van packed and on the road sometime between 6 and 7 AM. A few hangups here and there and we finally left town at 9:00. In the process we bought Wal-Mart out of their whole stock of duct tape. We have plenty to seal up any holes or leaks in the tarps.

After a couple of early naps between my wife and I (and driver changes), we were finally awake enough to make some time. We intentionally traveled slower than normal because of the added weight of the trailer. When we pulled this trailer with our Suburban when it was similarly loaded, there was no noticeable difference in the way the truck handled. Not true with a Honda Odyssey. Starting up and slowing down are much more of a challenge. Even at the slower speed we were only 1 hour behind our normal schedule of making it to the city of Villahermosa, Tabasco.

At one point along the way today we did something we have thought about many times, but have never done. We pulled our van off the side of the highway and enjoyed a little wading in the gulf waters. We had talked about swimming. Though we could not see the waves from the road, they were pretty strong. But when you got down to the water line you could see that there was quite a strong pushing and pulling of the water. For prudence sake we just waded a while.

When we left Villahermosa we knew we could make it to the city of Coatzacoalcos in 2 hours. Within 30 minutes of leaving Villahermosa we were in a tremendous thunderstorm. The best thing for our trailer and contents is to keep moving in rain. I have everything packed in such a way that it is best protected from water entering the front and being blown off as we are moving. While I don’t think we have any major leaks, if there are any, they are going to be most easily exploited when the trailer is sitting stationary.

This storm was so strong and violent that traveling 20 MPH at times seemed risky. So much for movement. While I am not normally a pessimist, I don’t see any way that our stuff stayed dry. It was a torrential downpour for 40 minutes. By the time we got to the hotel it had slowed down, but the streets in the city were totally flooded. What did not get wet in the rain probably got soaked from the bottom up with the trailer buried under water for 30 minutes. On the bright side: if we make it home this weekend and anything is dry, then I should be pleased.

It is currently still raining and the trailer has been sitting in the rain for a couple of hours. Sigh.

Day 2 (preview)
We plan to be on the road somewhat early tomorrow. The hotel we are in does not start serving breakfast until 6:30. So we probably won’t be on the road until at least 7:00. Best case scenario is that we will make it to within 4 or 5 hours of the border. We should make it to within 10 hours tomorrow barring any major road problems. Then we will travel all day on Thursday to be able to cross that evening. If we do make good time and distance tomorrow then we can cross on Thursday and get a few hours up into Texas before having to shut down for the night.

I will keep you posted as I can.

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