Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Where Yee-Hah Meets Olé"

We are at the Wal-Mart in Eagle Pass, Texas (map), a town whose official slogan entitles this post (really).

We had a pleasant and uneventful jaunt through Mexico yesterday. After running some errands in Laredo, including a quick stop at Wal-Mart for windshield washer fluid and other essentials (but no terrorist food items), the bank to get cash for fuel, and the Goodwill to relieve ourselves of five bags of clothing and other items (which Mexico is wont to tax if they think you might leave them there), we made our way to the international bridge to Nuevo Leon.

It's quite amazing to see just how many trucks, freight yards, warehouses, terminals, and other trade facilities there are in Laredo, the largest land port of entry to the US. At some point we passed a conga line of trucks that must have extended for two miles, probably the tail end of the line for the World Trade Bridge.

US$4.50 got us across the river, and, after a cursory inspection at the Aduana, we were waved through, only to undergo an immediate military inspection just 50 yards further on. Their curiosity satisfied, we found our way to the bank just past the customs facility and changed US$400 into MX$4,120, a rate of 10.3, not bad for right at the border. The current wholesale rate is 10.45, which is a fair bit less than the $10.65 it was just a few weeks ago.

The Pemex came up just a few miles later, at the intersection with Mexico 2, and we were relieved to find that diesel is still MX$5.76 per liter. At the 10.3 exchange rate, that works out to US$2.116 per gallon, as compared to the current price in Texas of anywhere from $4.10 to $4.20 per gallon. We put MX$4,000 in the tank, and headed northwest toward Acuña.

We had planned to spend perhaps one night in Mexico and cross back at the Amistad Dam, just past Acuña/Del Rio. Just before reaching Piedras Negras, though, we changed our minds and decided to just cross back there, making last night an easy stop at Wal-Mart. I still had about 800 pesos, and so we put another 700 pesos worth of fuel in at Piedras Negras, making our total fill in Mexico 215.5 gallons at about US$456. At that price, we saved ourselves over $430, making the detour through Mexico and the US$9 in bridge tolls very much worthwhile.

As usual, we had every Customs and Border Protection agent in Eagle Pass go through the bus, including the enormous drug-sniffing German Shepherd, necessitating evacuating the pets before the inspection. We were ready for the agriculture issues this time, having already hard-boiled all our eggs, and scrupulously avoiding keeping any uncooked meats, pork products, or fruits on board. We had one apple, which I ate on the way to the crossing.

The Wal-Mart here, occupying half of what used to be the municipal airport, is easily half the size of the entire enclosed mall across the street -- one of the largest stores I've ever been in. We stocked back up on apples and meat. Last night we wandered across the street to the mall, where, as usual, we found we needed absolutely nothing. Nor did we recognize any of the features playing at the cineplex. We did, however, stop in at Applebees for dinner, where we are fond of the salads.

Today we will head north along the river to Del Rio, then turn inland on Texas 163. We are diverting a bit east of our previously planned route of US285 to meet up with some folks who are driving out from Forth Worth.


  1. regarding current movies, you might find the Ben Stein Documentary Expelled" to be an interesting diversion. It's not the usual useless dribble.

  2. sorry, the title of the movie is "Expelled"

  3. Ok, I read the part about dropping off clothing at the Goodwill a couple times and I'm still unclear. The Mexican gov't would tax you on donated items??
    Huh? Enquiring minds need to know.


  4. @anonymous: Yes, that's right. Mexico taxes all imports, even if they are charitable donations, whether to individuals, or to charitable organizations. If you have a suitcase full of clothing that clearly is not your size, for example, they might ask. If you tell them it will be donated in-country, they will asses duty on it.

    We did not want to take the chance that they would look at all our neatly arranged bags of clothing to be donated and assume that we were going to leave them in Mexico.

  5. Especially clothing. Pretty much anything else is ok to bring in. Go figure. :)

    Del Rio is the place we leave each and every time we leave the mainland. We love the Amistad Rec Area, little Marathon with it's cute coffee house, Alpine with it's bookstores, thriftstores and health food stores and then lovely, 5000ft, Ft. Davis. The first time we planned to spend a few days and ended up close to a month there. Oh, the Ft. Davis library is simply lovely.


  6. Diesel is $2.11 in Mexico, Do you remember how much 87 octane regular is?



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