Sunday, March 2, 2008

Live from Juarez, Mexico!

Bienvenidos! We arrived in Ciudad Juarez Saturday afternoon - a full day sooner than we expected - but I'm just now getting to post this. Yesterday we ate at the local market and took a couple naps, then today we stopped by Home Depot and hung out at the mall. We even had decent Chinese food! Ibis has since gone back to Home Depot since I refused to spend more than half an hour there. We stayed long enough to buy a light fixture for over the bathroom vanity, then we were out of there.

The trip from Zihua was very uneventful. We left early Thursday morning and had planned to stay in Aguascalientes, but we got there by 4pm and decided to keep going until the next major town. We stayed in Zacatecas and I'm so glad we did. It's a beautiful city, very similar to Morelia but much more condensed. We found a hotel one block from the cathedral for only 400 pesos and then walked around the historical district that evening. They were filming a tourism commericial on the veranda of one of the old buildings and there's a good chance our car will be in the final product.

Friday morning we had real coffee and fresh pastries from a small shop then were back on the road. I didn't drive at all on Thursday but put in my share for the second leg of the trip. Very little happened while Ibis was driving, but during my five hours I managed to kill a bird and get attacked by a crazed tumbleweed. The bird was flying across the road and miscalculated the strength of the wind or something because it smacked into my windshield. It's actually the second time that's happened to me. We saw several tumbleweeds tumbling across the highway but I never imagined one would find its way inside the car, especially through MY window while I was driving. Scared the bejeezus out of me.

We were making good time and Ibis thought we might be able to make it all the way to Juarez on the second day, but all the warnings we've heard said the northern stretch of our trip would be the most dangerous. We opted to stay in Chihuahua and had a lovely dinner at Wendy's. The city wasn't as bad as we first thought - the downtown area, which is typically the nicer part of Mexican towns, was very run down - but the more suburban area had a lot more going on. We were only three hours from our final destination so we slept in a little and took our time over breakfast. Sadly, we did not see a single Chihuahua while we were there.

Ibis drove the final stretch to Juarez and we arrived by 1pm, then were checked into our hotel within another hour. It was nice to finally be able to settle into a room and bring everything in from the car. We brought a lot of food and water along for the drive but left it in the car overnight because we weren't always able to park near the hotel. In Zacatecas we were only two blocks away but it's a hilly city and we had to climb many many stairs to get there... so only the essentials made it to the room.

I kept a notes during the drive and have a few stats to share.

Day One
Animals That Ran in Front of the Car: 1 coyote, 1 goat, 1 squirrel, and almost an entire herd of goats.

Military Checkpoints and How Many Stopped Us: 2/2

Day Two
Animals That Hit the Car: 1 bird

Other Animals: we passed many many cows but one cattle farm in particular stood out - there must have been several thousand within a couple acres. Moo.

Tumbleweed Encounters: 1, the one that flew into my window

Military Checkpoints and How Many Stopped Us: 2/3*

*we were not stopped at a checkpoint that asked if we were transporting fruit or vegetables, despite the bananas and apples in the backseat.

Day Three
Animals That Ran in Front of the Car: None; there is nothing in that stretch, only desert

Tumbleweed Encounters: 1, Ibis hit one that stayed attached to the front of the car, then gradually shed it's pieces as we continued down the road

Military Checkpoints and How Many Stopped Us: 1/1

We figured out that the military guys were most likely stopping us because of how far we'd traveled. The first thing they ask is where you're from and where you're going, and we'd traveled a long way. One of the searches on my shift was particularly thorough: they looked in the engine, under the seats, looked for hidden compartments, searched all our bags and even questioned our 4L bottle of wine!

That's all for tonight. I'll post more after Ibis has his medical appointment tomorrow.


Virginia Lee said...

You know, I never would have thought there are tumbleweeds that attack before now. Skeery!

Have a wonderful trip, Melanie! I'll be sending good vibes about the visa.

And seriously, what is it with boys and Home Depot? ;0)

Janna said...

Holy tumbleweeds! ;) Funny story.

Keep us posted on the remainder of the trip!

Melanie Avila said...

LOL,Virginia you're the second person to say that about Home Depot.

I picked out another piece of tumbleweed from the front of the car tonight. I think that's all of it!

Kristine said...

Wow, very exciting...Those darn birds! I've only had the experience of a bunny running in front of me, while in the passenger seat, and stopping right in front of the car and trying the jump the car! All was good, he was quite the jumper!

Good luck today with the medical exams for Ibis. Does he get a mental exam as well? Might want to get that checked while you're at it, tee hee, kidding!

Talk to you soon!

Ed Pahule said...

That is so weird. Why all the military checkpoints? You're still in Mexico, right?

Melanie Avila said...

Ed, the checkpoints are really common, especially between state borders. The northern stretch of our drive is a common drug-running area, so we were expecting them. One specifically asked if we were transporting medicine but the rest just search for whatever strikes their fancy.

We go through one checkpoint every time we visit Ibis' family, so we're used to it.

Melanie Avila said...

Kris, a rabbit? Seriously? I think I remember you telling me about that once before.