I was tense, very tense as we were crossing the border. Oh, nothing about Mexico or it being dangerous or anything like that; it was just the nature of border crossings and US; last time, we had to do it twice, remember? Both ways to boot. We are just slightly scatter-brained, we start singing along to Elmo and what do you know – we miss signs (if they were there at all).
So I was tense. I didn’t want to go through all of it, twice, and I saw those miles-long lines to get into the US…oh no, mama. Noooooooo.
It was fine though. Crossing at Nogales is a whole ‘nother ballgame from Tijana, Tecate and Mexicali. The main thing I think, is that the Banjercito is quite a way from the actual crossing. 21 kilometres, to be exact. If you mess up, you can easily turn around and NOT have to actually go through the border again. It’s really easy – just cross, drive the 21 kilometers. There are signs all over the place for it, pull over and park. Mikey went in with all 5 of our passports and the truck information. The kids napped. I read. Mikey came back with it all done. And that was IT, finito, for real.
For those of you who are planning a trip to Mexico or overlanding it and are reading this post to get more information, the deal with the Banjercito is this: you are depositing money (with the army) for a temporary vehicle import permit. It’s also where you pay the fee for your tourist cards. When you leave Mexico, you’ll get your deposit back for your vehicle. The vehicle permit is NOT required for all of Baja, nor for Sonora. It’s only if you are planning to travel beyond those states. The reason behind the deposit? It’s to make sure you don’t sell your vehicle in Mexico.
It’s a little thing like a mosquito is a little thing: a total pain in the ass if you are trying to find it in the dark; not a big deal if it’s broad daylight and you can find it easily.
And that’s all I have to say about it. Nogales is so much easier to do this that I think in the future if we ever want to go to just Baja, I’ll still want to cross through Nogales and just ditch the California crossings.
Lots of farms, trees, both unhappy cow feed lots and happy wandering cows. Chicken farms. They’ve got a lot going on here.
We are really interested in the farming of course, but so far we’ve been surprised at how much nicer northern Sonora is than northern Baja. Also surprised at super-nice everyone is to us- I mean, NICE – warm, friendly, funny and engaging. Sure, we have all the trappings for some nice-ness (- 3 cute kids, a cute dog), but we think it boils down to not so many tourists in this region. People are just more laid back and less likely to see us as walking dollar signs. Or something. I don’t know. But it’s pretty great.
We spent the first couple of nights in a small town called Magdelena. It’s not far from either the border or from Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, but it felt like a world apart in terms of how cute, walkable and enjoyable it was. It’s the home of the bones of Father Kino and a beautiful little church and plaza that was just happening to have folk dancing performances as we stumbled upon it.
Nothing quite like standing there, the only obvious gringos around, with a tiny Mexican town enjoying itself through its dance performances. Sunlight streaming with the setting sun, kids playing, dogs meandering, shop stalls selling any size Jesus you could possibly ever want.
Later, we had dinner at a small taco stand and dissolved into puddles of delight over the absolutely (and literally) melt-in-your mouth succulent morsels of adobada, perfectly accompanied with hand-tossed tortillas, fresh salsa, delightful chiles (both roasted and raw), cucumbers, pickles and radishes.
We may not have looked very refined as we scarfed it all down, but we sure were happy campers.
Here are some photos.