Crossing the border at Nogales

“I’ve spent more time in a McDonald’s drive-thru than at the Mexican border,” Brad said minutes after we crossed the Nogales border today around noon. It took about five minutes to get past the speed bumps in the bat mobile.

This experience has not been the case earlier in my life when I crossed the border through Juarez and Tijuana, so this time I decided that no matter what I would document it until someone told me to shut the cameras off. That’s exactly what I did and no one said a thing. So here’s what the Nogales border crossing can be like. I imagine if you packed your truck 20′ high with wooden crates it might be different- but for us, it was a breeze. You want fries with that?

“He pasado más tiempo en el drive-thru de McDonald’s que en la frontera con México,” dijo Brad minutos después de que cruzó la frontera de Nogales a día de hoy alrededor del mediodía. Tomó cerca de cinco minutos para pasar.

Esta experiencia no ha sido mi caso con las veces que he cruzado a través de Juárez y Tijuana, sólo que esta vez decide que era importante documentar la pasada hasta que alguien me regañara por usar mi cámara. Así que eso es exactamente lo que hice y nadie dijo nada.

Para cualquier persona interesada, esto es lo que la frontera de Nogales cruce puede ser. Imagino que si complica cuando su camión esta cargado con cajas de madera aproximadamente 20 pies de alto, puede ser diferente, pero para nosotros, fue una brisa.

Getting our car permit in Nogales

You’re looking at the car permit “office” located near the border in Nogales, MX. We basically walked back and forth between this concession stand looking area and another office that looked like it was built inside of a construction site trailer, for a good 1.5 hours. We had to speak at length to no less than 4 different state employed drones just to buy a little windshield sticker that says “we paid $40 to drive thru Mexico.” Anyway, Kara said this was all good training for future Latin American bureaucratic experiences. What a great attitude!

La Chapina on CB with the Trucker Boys

We got the CB radio rolling and started talking to our trucker friends from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, all headed East on highway 10. We got some great road tips, including the best place to eat in Blythe. Casa Maria got big props and so we stopped and had some not so fresh fish tacos and a potato soup with cheese (hmm, Mexican?).

All the truckers unanimously agreed we should drive to Brownsville, Texas – drive through all of Texas, no thank you – and cross at that border. From their perspective it makes sense: free US roads, a straight shot across the desert, good rest stops and all their friends on the freeway, hell, why not. It’s tempting, but we’re headed West towards the water and then back in. We have a little time and some toll roads to help us with the extra leg of distance. I imagine those toll roads will easily cost us $200 USD. Pero lo bueno, bonito y barato no todo el tiempo es bueno y barato. Next stop: Tucson!

Big Mama

On the way to Tucson and saw this Big Mama along the side of the road. That and the ostrich farm.

Phoenix, land of cacti

Drove into the ever growing mass of Phoenix. Now we’re sitting here looking at these cacti across from our friend’s house.

96′ in the shade

Kara graciously poses at the rest stop, about 100 miles outside of Phoenix. It’s really hot in the desert- quick lets get back to the AC in the car!

Morning fuel

Made a pitstop right before San Bernardino for some morning fuel. Goodbye LA, hello Phoenix.

LA Bound

After weeks of preparation we are finally on the road and headed to Venice, LA our first stop, 307 miles into our trip.

One more time

From left-to-right: Me (soon to be ex-pat DJ), Fish (owner, Oasis Nightclub) and Tara (bartender, birthday girl). Photo: Erik Karki.
From left-to-right: Me (soon to be ex-pat DJ), Fish (owner, Oasis Nightclub) and Tara (bartender, birthday girl). Photo: Erik Karki.

Last night after our terrific “Hasta Luego” party at Mark & Lucia’s house, Erik graciously invited me to play the closing set at the glorious Oasis Nightclub, in Oakland. It was great to spin one more time for the heads, before our fast approaching departure on Tuesday!

I Tethered Today

Through an hour’s worth of tinkering and a little help from this tutorial I was able to tether my Blackberry Pearl 8100 to my Macbook using bluetooth. Now while this may seem a bit like a gearhead gone wild, it is a very practical way for me to be online in our car for the next 2,992 miles as we traverse Mexico and Guatemala.


A definite must for doing my content management work on several Web sites and writing longer entries and posts to the blog. I’m not sure how the connection will hold up as we drive, but I have a feeling I will be able to do a lot with a little. Isn’t necessity the mother of invention? A good friend brought up the point that while I will be increasingly connected than most people in Central America in these new ways, I will be doing it in countries where people will expect eye contact and to be connected in the more traditional sense. I’m not quite sure if that is the case, but there’s only one way to find out.

Bueno blessing

Our spiritual teacher, Rev. Kathy Huff from the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, sent us this wonderful blessing for our big trip:

May your time away bring you depth of mind, heart and spirit. May you find “home” wherever you are. May your adventures deepen your marriage and your love for the sacred in one another; and, in every living thing whose path you may cross. May you create memories to last a lifetime and have more fun than any of the rest of us can imagine!