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Driving in Mexico
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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Dec 1, 2012
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater ...
So I'm interested in climbing Orizaba, Izta, Malinche and doing some cragging in El Potrero as well as checking out the ruins near Mexico City. The thing is I cannot afford tickets to fly. I know if can find people to share a ride with it will be much more affordable but I'm worried about driving and parking in parts of Mexico (especially Mexico City). I've traveled to Mexico a bit (Acapulco in college and Mazatlan a couple weeks ago). I speak a little Spanish and have lived in cities in the US so I have some street smarts and familiarity with how things are in the resort towns in Mexico.

Here's my concerns, I think the drive down would be fine, albeit long. I'm worried that my car will attract attention (the new car being part of why I cannot afford plane tickets). I'm a bit worried about getting off main roads accidentally without phone service or good maps. I'm worried my mediocre Spanish skills will be a hindrance in places where there are few or no English speakers.

Anybody done a drive like this? How did it go? Am I asking to get car jacked or get my car stolen parking around Mexico City? What about other cities (Amecameca, Tlachichucha, etc.)? Does this sound like a straight up bad idea?

Anyone interested in joining me? Would be sometime in January for about 3 weeks.

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By d.c.
From the front range to rossland
Dec 1, 2012
My street smarts would tell me to be cautious about driving a shiny new rig in Mexico. I hate to add to the paranoia, but it's the sad truth. I still have a couple of uncles and a grandad that live out there and they're constantly dealing with a lot of shit. A couple of months ago a few dudes broke into my uncles house around midnight held the family at gun point and asked for they keys and registration papers to their fairly new car. And of course, let them know that if they were to report the incident they would be back to handle some business.

If you don't get jacked by some local thugs, be prepared to get tooled by the police ( in the form of "driving violations"). One common tactic is to pull you over for some bogus violation and ask you to fork over a $20 or deal with being ticketed. They may inform their buddies down the road that you're coming and pull the same stunt again. This has happened to me and my parents while traveling out there in our U.S. car.

Do what you like with this info. I'm sure there have been a few folks here that have traveled all over Mexico without a single problem. With that said, I would rethink driving a new car out there, however, I wouldn't have a problem driving a junker.

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By JJNS
Dec 1, 2012
What about driving to El Paso and then riding the bus system? I'm not sure how much money/time you would save as opposed to flying into Mexico City but it could be an option to consider. I did a similar trip three years ago minus El Potrero. I flew into Mexico city and took a bus to Amecameca then Tlachichucha then Vera Cruz then back to Mexico City.

I say wait until next year when you can fly and also avoid the human sacrificing that is going on right now in an attempt to avoid the end of the world.

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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Dec 1, 2012
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater ...
Yeah, I kind of thought a new car might not be a good idea for Mexico. The bus thing sounds way better though. Isn't the whole end of the world thing gonna be done new years anyways?

I think I can figure out partners if I can get to the locations or just solo the peaks and not tell my girlfriend.

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Dec 1, 2012
Also look into flying to Laredo, Texas; it can be a lot cheaper to fly to there than to airports in Mexico. From Laredo, it is a 3-hour bus ride (~$12) to Monterrey, then an hour on a different bus to Potrero.

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By mike bronson
Dec 1, 2012
Hey out there,
I've been to Mexico plenty of times and most likely will continue to do so but sadly some regions have become the new Colombia. I don't think Mexico City would be my biggest concern. I would take advantage of climate change and stay on this side of la frontera.

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By Jeff Bevan
Dec 1, 2012
I've driven to EPC 3 times. Certainly not in a newer rig, older Suby. My $.02 don't do it. Last trip for me was 3 years ago. Have been reluctant to play the game again since. Ya, getting pulled over and fingered is part of the game even for the locals. Crossing at Laredo right now seems pretty iffy. I don't like to rely on dumb luck.

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By Katya
Dec 1, 2012
We drive quite a bit in Mexico, for example we did a drive from Potrero to Puerto Escondido. This year we plan to drive even further south. And so far we didn't have any problems. We drive an older van though, not a big hit score. I don't consider driving in Mexico that dangerous, rather more adventurous. There are some guidelines such as don't drive at night and use toll roads if you want to get somewhere. Driving from Potrero to Mexico city is not a problem, you can stay on toll roads all the way from Monterrey to Mexico City. I don't know anything about staying in MC, we drove through it without stopping. We tend to avoid big cities. We prefer small towns or climbing areas. My Spanish is less than mediocre but we get by, I find people for the most part friendly especially if you try to speak some Spanish.
Taking a bus is a good option if you want to stick to Potrero, checking ruins and places where regular tourists go

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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Dec 1, 2012
jmeizis wrote:
Does this sound like a straight up bad idea?


Yes, straight up.

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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Dec 2, 2012
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater ...
So for anyone who has done there bus thing how was it?

Did you cross the border and then hop on a bus or hop on in the states? If you crossed, which city?

I take it there were no problems with cops shaking you down for cash or anything like that?

Any Spanish words or phrases that would be especially helpful?

Any suggestions on how to stay in touch? I'd like to call family and whatnot to let them know I'm ok and stuff. I could turn the international calling for my phone but that's pretty expensive. Tracfone? Calling card?

Thanks for the bus idea. Turned junkshow crazy plan into something that's probably feasible.

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By Kevin Hadfield
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Dec 2, 2012
Photo by Grant Bryans.
If you get pulled over, don't open your window enough for a hand to get in and NEVER give a cop your license. Also, everyone drives on the shoulder... The actual lanes are for passing. Make sure you bring the title of the actual vehicle you are driving... Long Story... for purchasing the vehicle/insurance sticker. While in El Potrero, stay at La Posada.

-Kevin

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By jack s.
From Kamloops, BC
Dec 2, 2012
Mean Green P2
As for phone service, if you have Verizon, just get the Nationwide plus Mexico plan for an extra $20 a month or so and then switch back to your normal plan when you return. It is actually not a bad deal, although be aware that Americans calling you will still pay long distance while you are there.

I can't imagine driving being cheaper after purchasing Mexican insurance and all the gas needed to get there.

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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Dec 2, 2012
When I was a bum at Frey
All the columbians I met said Mexico was a scary place to be... Just sayin. If you do want to do this check out advrider.com. Yes it is about motorcycles but a lot of people do this kind of trip on bikes and share their experiences and advice. It may be an awesome resource amigo. Suerte Che.

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By Katya
Dec 2, 2012
There is a greyhound line that runs from San Antonio to Monterrey. The central station in Monterrey is huge, you can get a bus from there to Mexico City or take a local bus (super cheap) to Hidalgo. From a bus station in MC you can get a bus ticket to pretty much anywhere in Mexico. Despite what everybody says I don't consider Mexico to be a dangerous place if you use common sense. That comes from personal experience, not something I overheard or seen on TV. If you drive through Laredo during day light don't think there are going to be bad guys everywhere trying to shoot at you. Military and federal police are armed but they don't care about gringos. That said don't have money and valuables laying around within easy reach. Local police might try to extort money from you, but not speaking good Spanish might play in your favor, just smile and wait till they give up.

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By Katya
Dec 2, 2012
oh yeah, sometimes mexican airlines such as aeromexico have super cheap flights from Monterrey to Mexico city but i think there is a limit on the luggage weight

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By freeope
From Vancouver Island
Dec 2, 2012
Katya wrote:
There is a greyhound line that runs from San Antonio to Monterrey. The central station in Monterrey is huge, you can get a bus from there to Mexico City or take a local bus (super cheap) to Hidalgo. From a bus station in MC you can get a bus ticket to pretty much anywhere in Mexico. Despite what everybody says I don't consider Mexico to be a dangerous place if you use common sense. That comes from personal experience, not something I overheard or seen on TV. If you drive through Laredo during day light don't think there are going to be bad guys everywhere trying to shoot at you. Military and federal police are armed but they don't care about gringos. That said don't have money and valuables laying around within easy reach. Local police might try to extort money from you, but not speaking good Spanish might play in your favor, just smile and wait till they give up.

Yes Mexico is safe as long as your not an idiot! Like Katya said follow the rules, no night driving, use toll roads, and be nice to everyone, laugh, smile but don't be a jerk/idiot! It is an adventure!

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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Dec 3, 2012
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater ...
Well I do have my moments but I think I can do that. Thanks for the replies. Sounds like I may be able to make this work. Any more info is always appreciated.

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By Daniel Siegel
From Overland Park, KS
Dec 11, 2012
I've been wondering about the safety down to EPC as well. I hear the same "Don't be stupid" but does anyone have reliable first hand knowledge of how the current situation is?

Also, if anyone is headed down after the first of the year, I would be interested in meeting in Dallas to split gas. I am coming from Kansas.

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By Scott M. McNamara
From Tucson, Arizona
Dec 11, 2012
One Way Sunset
borderlandbeat.com/

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By Dantherastaman
Dec 11, 2012
Do those crimes and incidents affect the route from Monterrey to Hidalgo and EPC? Or would getting a cab or bus to there be a safe option?

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By freeope
From Vancouver Island
Dec 13, 2012
Daniel Siegel wrote:
I've been wondering about the safety down to EPC as well. I hear the same "Don't be stupid" but does anyone have reliable first hand knowledge of how the current situation is? Also, if anyone is headed down after the first of the year, I would be interested in meeting in Dallas to split gas. I am coming from Kansas.


Ok, yes it is safe and no it is not safe! I have driven round Mexico lots. Never have I ever had a problem with gangsters, cartel, police or crazy Mexicans. Is this saying that Mexico is safe? No I saying that I have never had a problem in Mexico. I have had more problems from police etc in Canada, USA, and Europe, then in Mexico. I feel that you attract what you think about, you creat your experience!
Contact Ed at: magicedspotrerochico.com/. He and his wife know more about EPC then I also he will be able to give you " first hand knowledge." He is pretty much a local down there.

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By JeremyB
Jan 5, 2013
Me warming up at LRC.
I've traveled extensively via bus in Mexico. Their bus system is NOT like Greyhound here in the states. The buses are actually comfy and clean. The big companies rule: Omnibus, Grupo Senda, Primera Plus, etc. They are also inexpensive. They are not chickens or crowded busses, though you can find those if thats what you're looking for. Sometimes busses get pulled over by the guard, and pull everyone off the bus to do searches with dogs, but this is a normal thing and shouldn't be feared. You won't be hassled if you're a tourist.

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By JeremyB
Jan 5, 2013
Me warming up at LRC.
Don't buy the "fear Mexico" hype. It is just like here in the States; you'll be OK if you don't do anything stupid, stay away from shady people/areas, and stay away from border cities. :)

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By David Finger
From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jan 7, 2013
Insurance for your car is also a big issue. As far as I know, US auto insurance companies don't cover driving in Mexico. You're required to show proof of liability insurance when you cross the border. Policies are available, but they are not cheap. Collision and comprehensive are another issue.

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By Patrick Vernon
From Albuquerque, NM
Jan 7, 2013
mexico
Large bus lines are very safe. I took the greyhound to the border and a mexican bus line to where I was living. The mexican bus was far safer. I've driven around Mexico a bit, no problems on road trips on major roads.

I have had problems in more remote areas involving guns and rocks thrown at me. I have heard the drug wars are actually dying down? It's cliche but true, Mexico is a wild card. Saying its no more dangerous than the us might be statistically true (I honestly doubt it is) but the context of where you might get into trouble and why are very different. Be humble, be respectful, and be assertive all rolled into one. Roll with the off color jokes. Know that in more remote areas you will stick out like a sore thumb and that can have a definite possibly of inviting negative attention so keep your wits about you.

Edit to add:
If your car is flashy I definitely would worry a bit, you should look into the bus system. Don't worry too much about the Spanish, just go with it, it is one of the easier languages in terms of communicating basic needs in and Mexican accent is one of the easier ones to understand.

-Patrick

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By Patrick Vernon
From Albuquerque, NM
Jan 7, 2013
mexico
Probably should have read the thread before I replied. In terms of bus info, the mexican lines here in the US are also cheaper and nicer than the Greyhound. I took one from El Paso to Denver and it was quite cheap, but I can't remember the name. I'll look into it, my brother who posts here might know as well. I have crossed in Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez. I actually thought laredo seemed more sketchy.

One word of advice I wish I had known the first time I crossed, make sure you have pesos before you cross the border, otherwise you have to go wandering around a border town with a large backpack full of expensive stuff looking for an ATM or money changer, not a good scenario (I did it in Laredo).

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