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We have driven 1,100 miles from LAX to Alpine and have travelled about half the width of the USA. So far we have few cactus images to show for our troubles, but that is all part of the plan. The elite of Mexican cactus flora, the Connoisseur Cacti as John Pilbeam might call them, occur farther south then we managed to get last year when Saltillo was about as far south as we travelled. Our options are to fly into Mexico City, rent a car there and head north or to drive from where I was staying in the LA area, following much the same route that we had followed last year.

As a result we had been very disciplined as far as making time consuming stops was concerned and had been eating miles and now, in Mexico, kilometers.

Today’s thirteen images are all scenic and are not filed under a specific stop number.

This time we crossed the border at Del Rio into Acuna. This is a small crossing, open 24 hours per day and probably the most relaxed and friendly crossing between the US and Mexico yet. Last year we crossed at Eagle Pass, a bit farther to the east, but had to drive some 50 km south to Allende to complete the temporary car import formalities. At Acuna, this could all be done at the border so that once formalities had been completed we could drive to our destination without interruption.

For anyone wishing to try this themselves in a rented car, our experience is that Dollar are (possibly the only) one that allows renters to take their vehicles into Mexico. You need to buy Mexico Insurance on top of the usual rental / insurance costs and the current cost is US$27.80 per day. You also need a letter of authority from the rental company, granting you permission to take the car out of the US. The Mexican authorities require photocopies of all these documents plus copies of your passport page with the photograph, of your driving licence and of your Mexico Tourist Visa. Passport and driving licence photocopies are also needed for any co-drivers. If you are smart, you can save time by taking these in advance. We were not that smart and so had to we walk a couple of hundred meters in the burning sun (temperatures were up to 30C) to a money change office that also did photocopies, all for the sum of US$1. By the way, there was a photocopier behind the lady that wanted the copies, but it was not allowed for her to take the copies. There was no one else in the queue, but the whole process still took one hour.

Just as last year you have to pay US$35.82 for the equivalent of a UK motor vehicle licence and a US$ 400 deposit (cash or credit card) that you get back when you leave the country. We had the correct amount of cash and thought that the Mex Government holding this was probably safer then us carrying it around with us for 4 weeks.

During this time we were watched by armed soldiers with machine guns and Balaclava masks, on the square, at the entrance to the Customs office and even inside the offices. Perhaps the most worrying time was when suddenly they all disappeared on the double. Did they know of something coming? No idea. Everything went smoothly and the town of Acuna is actually a very nice little town for a bit of tourist shopping or a bite to eat. On the US side, there are plenty of good hotels to use as a spring plank for an early crossing into Mexico or to find a bed if you arrive from Mexico late at night.

Tomorrow we head for Bustamante for a bit of plant hunting.

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