Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mex 15

Mex 15, also known as Carretera Internacional, is the main highway down the west coast of Mexico. It runs from the USA border all the way down the west coast as far as Tepic (near Guadalajara). This is the road taken by all the through traffic including the big trucks, buses, RVs, and cars like ours. Mexico is in the process of developing this road into a four-lane divided highway, and in places it feels almost like an American freeway. Almost—but not quite!

One big difference is that you have to pay to drive on it. There are a lot of toll booths along the way. Sometimes there are more than 100 km between them; sometimes only 20 or so. The tolls vary from 20 pesos (about $2) to 118, and there are lots of topes (speed bumps) and signs as you approach to slow you down. Here’s one of the plaza de cuotas (toll booths).

Topes also appear randomly along the road as it passes through little villages. Speed limits range from 40 km per hour to 100, but to safely negotiate most topes you have to slow to 10 k or even less. It’s our theory that villages build these topes so that the villagers can sell their goods. Sometimes it’s a local cheese or other food, or handicraft; other times it’s kids’ toys or caged birds. This photo taken from the car window shows a collection of religious articles included images of ever-present Virgin of Guadalupe.

But the real speed interruptors are the military inspection spots. There are two types: the fruit and vegetable inspections (no big deal) and the soldiers with machine guns (more scary). We passed through three of the machine gun type stops on the way north from Mazatlan. At these places the soldiers are looking for drugs we think and they mean business. They stop and search every single big truck on the road, and the buses as well. Sometimes the trucks and buses have to unload everything they’re carrying. The lineup of trucks backs up for two or three kilometers at these stops.

I made the mistake at one of them of taking photographs of the soldiers and not putting camera away quickly enough. The soldier who stopped us made me delete every image on my camera before he would let us through. That’s why I have no photos except for the warning sign and the line-up of trucks.

We crossed the border into Nogales this afternoon at 3:30 with only a ten-minute wait. Again it’s a long wait for trucks; the line-up stretched back for several kilometers and the guy told us that they can wait for up to nine hours to cross. We were glad to be driving our mini-van.


Morbid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morbid said...

I love a religious artifact dealer who also stocks a healthy supply of Disney characters and dog statues
: )

Seriously - how scary is it to have an armed soldier order you to delete the pictures on your camera?? Good thing you d/l regularly.

Joanna and Harry said...

Wow--you're pretty observant. I just enlarged the photo and saw both. The dog with its tongue out is so-o-o cute. Yeah, i only had those four photos on my camera so it was easy to delete!