Steve's Worst Nightmare

Semi in rearview mirror.

We clear the border at Agua Prieta in time for lunch. We’re feeling pretty good about our progress. “If we book it, I think we can still hit Chihuhua before it gets too dark,” I say optimistically, slurping on a pork and salsa verde taco. Actually I know Chihuahua is a stretch, but my elation at returning to Mexico is as good as a pair of rose colored glasses: even the potholes and the smell of sewage make me feel […]

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Toll Costs for Cuota System!

My dad was a notorious cheapskate, but even Steve lapsed into poetry when he encountered his first cuota, which bypassed one of our least favorite stretches of highway, the spine-chilling Barranca de los Muertos (Canyon of the Dead). For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of driving in Mexico, a cuota is a toll road. They began appearing in the 80s and have spread across Mexico, so that now most major routes have two options: libre […]

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Road Trip

An '87 Dodge Van in Mexico with palm trees.

  I can’t help daydreaming about our upcoming trip, even though it’s months away.  So far the plan is to head out in late December or early January. Our itinerary (still a subject of heated debate) includes Austin (home of the Salt Lick and the world’s best ribs), Zacatecas (now there’s a town where you can find a decent cup of espresso), San Miguel de Allende (I’m already thinking about the milanesa sandwiches at Torta Mundo), El Rebalsito (where Cuca […]

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Ruminations on the Beast

A cat behind the steering wheel of a Ford van

Well Chuey is up and running again, thanks to Rich. This is the latest excitement in a saga that has had its disheartening moments. Just before our wedding four years ago, the van’s transmission went out. Rich and his groomsmen were stranded in Portland. Due to financial stress, the van project was put on the back burner and Chuey languished for two years. Eventually we paid up the nose to have the transmission rebuilt  and decided to drive to Seattle […]

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Road Blog: Central America Overland Expeditions

Guides stand in front of Range Rovers.

Back when I was a kid, a substantial migration of Mextrippers drove south every winter. Vehicles ranged from rust-speckled VW vans to tricked-out luxury liners (we once met an elderly couple who were driving in Fats Domino’s former tour bus, which was paneled in purple plush). Every year, we’d run into “our kind” in campgrounds,  on remote beaches, and in the coveted walled hotel parking lot (where we’d pay a few dollars to set up camp and access a bathroom). […]

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Mark's Pick: Mexico Road Atlas

by Mark Walker Mexico Road Atlas “Por las Carreteras de Mexico 2012” (Guia Roji) If you are traveling to Mexico you are going to get a map of some kind. Por las Carreteras de Mexico is probably in more cars traveling south than any other map or atlas. Now in its 18th edition, the atlas has all of the features you will need, including an extensive index of towns and cities, a distance chart, and a page showing the symbology […]

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On the Road in the Sweat Lodge

Hippies party near van in Mexico.

by Felisa Churpa Rosa Rogers Ah, vans! Tina Rosa, on the far right. Mexico used to have a real van culture. I grew up in it. When I was two months old, we traveled across the border in a Dodge camper my parents called the Sweat Lodge. The Sweat Lodge was succeeded by a white Chevy van we called Cebu, and then by Jolly, a Forest Service green Dodge van my dad bought at a government auction. All these vehicles […]

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