Trip out of Mexico: Day 4

New Tire Search
As soon as I got moving this morning I headed to a tire shop down the road from the hotel. I just picked one at random as this town had plenty to choose from. It seems like there are common problems in certain towns. Apparently there is enough business in this town to keep several shops running just fine.

What I needed from the tire shop was a lug wrench to pull the tire off the trailer so that I could run around with the rim in hand to get a new tire installed. I asked at the tire shop that I first visited if they had any 12″ tires. They did! They had 2 tires that were a bit smaller than I needed, but would fit my rim. These were used tires, but one of them looked like it was in pretty good shape. I got a lug wrench off of them and went back to the trailer to get the tire. The process of pulling the tire off went smoothly and I took the rim to the tire shop.

While they put the tire on, I buzzed over to the hotel and picked up the family. We hit an OXXO (Mexican convenience store) for some morning coffee and a totally un-healthy breakfast.

When we got back to the tire shop the tire was ready to go. We went to the trailer to find that it had fallen! Apparently the jack sank into the ground enough to topple the whole mess. Fortunately the jack was not pinned under the trailer in such a way that I could not get it out. It took well over an hour and some help from a passer-by to get the new tire on. Then I had to run the lug wrench back to the tire shop.

Back on the Road
We took it easy heading on to the border. With the fact that the tire shop had a tire that we could use, I estimated that we would be back on the road by 10:30. I missed it by an hour because of the trouble we had getting the trailer up off the ground after it fell. The trip to the border also took longer since we were now running on 2 different sized tires. We were concerned about overheating one tire by running it crooked down the road. Our original estimated time of arrival to cross the border was 2:00 in the afternoon.

Checkpoints
We had one more military checkpoint before getting to the border. They were pulling everyone over and digging through all the cars and suitcases. We got shoved into one line and waited our turn. When they got to us the soldiers suddenly started letting all the cars go through. Supposedly they were checking in waves and we were at the front of the next wave to be let past.

We have nothing to hide, but if we were forced to open our trailer to let them inspect it, it would probably be 4+ hours to pull it all apart and then put it together again. We were thankful for the gift of passing through.

Just one more inspection to go to get across the border. The last one is on the US side and can be a pain.

Border Crossing
We needed to go into the immigration office and cancel our paperwork. This didn’t slow us down much, but we were already way behind our ETA. The only thing that that mattered was we were going to try and eat lunch with some friends. We did not get to the border to cross until 4:00. Lunch plans turned into supper plans.

When we finally got over to the US side we were praying that we would not have to be inspected. Again, nothing to hide, but I did not want to go through the mess of pulling everything apart.

Something about me must sceam “INSPECT ME!” on the US side. We were asked to pull over and let the agents check our vehicle. This happened last time and it took almost an hour. They asked several questions about what we had in the trailer. They looked through the back of the van and asked again what was in the trailer. We have a bookcase strapped to the top of the trailer box that they looked in. They then asked to see what was in the trailer itself. I pulled out the hammer and told them I would have to disassemble the whole thing. They looked at each other and said that I could just go on.

Praise the Lord!

Dinner and a Hotel
We finally crossed the border closer to 5:30 after having to wait in line. We made a quick trip to Wal-Mart to pick up a new tire in the right size so that we can travel with a bit more confidence.

One of our friends that we were supposed to meet for lunch/supper was sick. We did get to meet with another friend and had a nice evening of talking about future plans.

In the process of all our running around my wife checked out some hotels in the area. She found one with a pool and Internet. When we checked in I saw a sign that said “Free Wireless Internet! (In lobby only).” Fortunately they also have wired Internet access in the rooms.

After the kids swam a bit we shoved them into bed. I went to the lobby to sit and do some reading and have a cup of coffee. Super 8 has become one of our favorite hotels because of the price and they really have improved their service. They (usually) have coffee available at any time and their breakfast area is usually open for a nice quiet place to work and read after the kids go to sleep so that I don’t have to have a light on in the room.

Usually. Did I say that already?

At 9:25 I went to the lobby to have my coffee and start my evening reading. I have a class I am starting on Monday that I have to have a pile of reading done for. I was really looking forward to getting a bit done tonight. I got to the lobby to find that it was locked. The man behind the desk waved me over to a hole in the window to talk. Apparently the free wireless Internet that is available only in the lobby gets cut off some time before 9:30 since you are not allowed into the lobby. That meant no coffee and no comfortable reading with actual lights. I got to head back to the room where I would be relegated to the bathroom once again for reading. Some people like the bathroom as a reading room, but when you live in hotels as much as we do, sitting on the side of the tub gets un-comfy after a while.

Super 8, I am not pleased with this location. Nice room. Seems to be a kind staff. But not letting me use the lobby to read after 9:00, not having coffee available and not having wireless Internet outside of the closed lobby (when clearly the technology exists), is not a good customer experience for me.

Day 5 (Preview)
We will get up at whatever time seems good. Breakfast at the hotel. Then start heading our way to Florida. We still have almost 1,000 miles to go to get home. Plenty of things can go wrong. But nothing seems to be quite as awful when we are in our country with cell phone access around people who speak our language.

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