Here are some not-so-random facts:
– I have never traveled with an RV caravan before
– I have never traveled in Mexico before, other than walking across the border to Los Algodones to visit my dentist
– I am a hardcore introvert with a fair bit of social anxiety. A classic misanthrope
These things all being true, I didn’t have much of an idea what it would be like traveling in a new country with a rather large group of people I didn’t know, other than “interesting”. I was rather sure it would be interesting, and I was right.
While it’s all still new to me and fresh in my mind, I think I should write about a few random topics. These are in no particular order as I’m simply writing about things as they come into my head.
I was really concerned I wouldn’t be able to function as part of the group. I can easily be overwhelmed by social interaction. I remember attending the Xscapers Convergence in Quartzsite in January of 2018 and being so overwhelmed I had to spend 10 days alone out in the desert at Mohave National Preserve to recover. Fortunately I haven’t had that experience here. The people in the group are all friendly and easy to talk with, but not pushy. At the end of a day of sightseeing I am often really tired from the social aspect of it, but a few hours of alone time in the evening allows me to process everything and get back to normal.
I am really glad I wasn’t crossing the border by myself. I found the whole process of getting the FMM, the Forma Migratoria Múltiple, aka my “tourist card”, and the TIP, or Temporary Import Permit for the motorhome, very confusing. All of the officials at the border crossing were friendly and helpful enough, but my Spanish doesn’t go much further than “hola” and “no comprendo”, so without someone there to tell me where to go and what to do, the whole experience would have been a nightmare.
The roads haven’t been a surprise, since I had read plenty about how bad some of the roads are, about all the topes (speed bumps), that one should use the toll roads rather than the Libres, and about driving half on the shoulder. But all of that still took a bit of getting used to. The toll roads seem to have a lot of toll booths. At one of the first toll booths we went through I went to the right-most lane, and that turned out to be for Carga (Cargo, or trucks) only, and didn’t go back onto the highway. The toll collector was trying really hard to make me understand what I had done wrong, but I couldn’t understand him. Finally I realized I needed to back out of the toll, and a couple of official guys stopped traffic behind me so I could back out and move over to the proper toll lane.
Most things in Mexico are less expensive than in the US, but gas isn’t one of them. Gas runs in the area of $4 USD per gallon. You don’t pump your own gas in Mexico; there are attendants. These attendants don’t get paid a wage, they work strictly for tips. Depending on how much gas I’m buying, and thus how much of the attendant’s time I take, I tip them 20 or 30 pesos.
When you eat in a restaurant there is no pressure to leave as soon as you’re done eating, you are expected to linger and chat and sip your drinks for as long as you like. The waiter or waitress will not bring you the check until you ask for it.
There are a lot of topes (speed bumps) on the road. They come in all kinds of profiles, and some of them are absolutely insane! I’ve actually kind of gotten hung-up getting the rear wheels over them and had to back up a bit and have another go.
Umm, I’m sure there are other things I should mention, but I can’t think of them at the moment. This will do for now.