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Archive for March 3, 2009

Tuesday, 3 March 2009 – Tucson, AZ to Hermosillo, SON, Mexico

Greetings from Hermosillo! I’ve finally learned not to call it Hermasitas!

Not the best of days, again caused by a border crossing. We were all a bit tense and snappy, partly excitement about finally starting the Mexico trip, partly anxiety about another border crossing – they are never smooth – and partly anxiety about travelling in northern Mexico – so many people in the US had told us to be careful and of horror story murders ‘on the other side of the border’, that inevitably you start believing it. I find it easiest to compare the situation with living in the UK during the seventies, when the Irish Conflict led to various terrorist attacks and killings, usually targeted at specific victims, but innocents can easily be caught up in this.

Relations in Holland would ring up worried about reports of yet more people killed in explosions. On the whole, the worst we experienced was the inconvenience of delayed trains. That is not to say that we are complacent about the problems in northern Mexico, just to try to re-assure people back home that we’ve progressed 378 km (235 miles) into Mexico and not seen evidence of troubles yet.

It seemed to go all so smoothly as after about 30 minutes of stepping from (short) queue to queue, we got our passports stamped and Tourist Visas issued by midday – we thought that we had crossed the border and were driving through Nogales on the Mexican side of the border, heading south on Mex-15. Great!

Then there came an Aduana post – customs & excise in the UK, to get the appropriate permit to temporarily export the car out of the USA, into Mexico. Another queue and no clear signage to indicate where to go and what to do. First of all a photocopy station where a young lad took photocopies of formal documents that we would need farther along the processing line.  Next to a bank station where we needed to pay for the car’s entry permit. But disaster- all the documents received from Dollar Rent a Car failed to include a letter of authorisation, permitting us to take the car out of the US into Mexico.

I pointed at the Dollar Car Rental agreement that in the comments box had the details of the Mexico Insurance that we had bought as part of the deal. While this may imply authority had been granted, it did not implicitly state this, so no go! We asked advice about how we might rectify this. We could call Dollar and ask them to fax the letter of authority to the small shop / fax office on site. Eunice’s ‘anywhere in the world’ phone could not obtain a signal – Alain’s Belgian Railway mobile could. But we were unable to dial the US 800 number from Mexico. In the end, Eunice called her friend Gloriana in Bellflower, an avid reader of these Diaries, and through her managed to set up a 3 way conversation with Dollar. We were of  course told that what we had was fine at the San Diego – Tijuana border. Great, but we were in Nogales, and it was not! After we lost the line and redialled the 3 way set up, we finally had the promise of a fax being sent to the number of the small shop. After a couple of hours of anxious waiting – there it was! I was still sent backwards & forwards from pillar to post by genuine people just doing their job, and we were not the only ones with complications. Finally, at around 15:15 we were finally cleared to go. But by then it was too late to go to the location of Agave polana and A. zebra.

We drove straight on to Hermosillo, with just the briefest of stops for a comfort stop at a petrol station, where one of the youths hanging around was carrying a small hand gun – probably quite normal in Mexico, but enough for us to raise our awareness levels. Close to Hermosillo, Alain needed to stretch his legs – the poor lad had spent close on 72 hours without a decent opportunity to get the circulation going!

But all’s well that ends well! We’re in a reasonably priced clean and apparently safe hotel along Mex-15 towards the centre of Hermosillo. OK, so the wi-fi does not work for me from the room, but will be OK in the restaurant to send out this report.

The plus point of today is that there are no pictures worth down loading tonight, so that after a quick freshen up, we’ll be off to the bar & restaurant.

Did we not see any cacti? Oh yes, plenty, along the road, but there was simply no time to stop for a photo stop if we wanted to find a hotel before dark. We passed loads of Carnegiea gigantea, Ferocactus wizlezenii, Cylindropuntia sps. Foquieria splendens, just outside of Nogales. C. gigantea was soon replaced by Pachycereus pringlei – it would have been interesting to see them together and look out for any intergeneric hybrids. The Feros disappeared but the Organpipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) and Pachycereus schottii appeared. We had seen all these species last year, and while it would have been nice to have a few Stop numbers with images, safety concerns were higher on the list of priorities.

Better luck tomorrow!