Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Travel Advisory

No, not a government travel advisory but a real life advisory from our recent travels on Mex 57 between San Miguel and Nuevo Laredo.

In the past on Mex 57, we encountered lots of check points where you had to pull over. Most of the time we were just asked a few questions and then waved on through, sometimes we had to open the trunk so that they could look in and once soldiers climbed into the car and hit on the roof, floor board and opened the console. But this trip we only saw one check point and there were no soldiers there when we went through early in the morning. On our return trip, we passed there in the afternoon and cars were being pulled over.

However, we did get the red light when we crossed the bridge back into Mexico. We pulled in and they had us open the trunk, asked where we were going, then waved us on. At the immigration check point outside of Nuevo Laredo we got a red light and it looked like most cars were getting the red light. They wanted to see our "permiso" for the car and they checked that against the car sticker and the VIN on the car. They opened the trunk, opened one suitcase and waved us on.

Of course, it probably helps that Ned gets out of the car and chats them up a bit. He told them that we had been to Texas for a family wedding. His nephew got married. Now we were on our way home to San Miguel de Allende. The dog helps too. He is a pretty dog and they often ask his name. At least he gets us a smile.

Then we were stopped again, by the Federales this time, just as we came through the toll booth near Matehuala. They too, wanted to see the permiso and they checked it against the car sticker and the VIN. He waved us on as well.

What I didn't understand is that the permiso is only good for six months unless you have an FM3 or FM2. Then the permiso is good as long as the FM3 and FM2 are valid. So I would think that they would ask to look at the immigration documents as well but they didn't. I did notice that one of the officers looked at the Mexican emissions sticker which you have to renew every six months.

Now we are trying to figure out what is going on. All I can say is, have your car papers in order before you leave home.

On our trip North we saw many Federales along the highway waiting....just like our Texas State Highway Patrol. And just like in Texas, they were pulling people over. We noticed that a few of the cars pulled over had passed us at airplane take off speeds but flying down Mexico 57 has never been noticed before by the Federales. We are thinking that maybe things are changing but when we came South yesterday, we only saw one or two patrol cars on the roadside.

All and all, it was a good trip but it is good to be home.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

"I did notice that one of the officers looked at the Mexican emissions sticker which you have to renew every six months."
What is that? Seriously, I have never heard of it and judging by the cars I see on the road sometimes, no one here seems to know about it.

Bob Mrotek said...

This is very good news, Billie. Thank you for the report. I encountered the same thing coming back from Morelia the other night. Very thorough and very polite but well armed. Don't worry. They aren't looking for you and me and I hope to God that they find who they are looking for.

Billie said...

Theresa, We are unclear on whether it is a Federal law or State law. At first I think only DF was enforcing it but they have started stopping cars in SMA that do not have it so we get it done. Some people say that if you are here on a Visa or FM3 you don't need it but it is easier to just get it than argue about it with the traficos.

Bob, these stops didn't worry me although the thought always goes through your mind if they are going to ask for a mordita.

Bob Mrotek said...

Theresa, I think you should look into it just to be on the safe side. They call it "Verificación" and if you don't have a current sticker on your back window you could be liable for a hefty fine.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I looked it up, it seems like my state is not affected by this law. Actually, I wouldn't mind if they enacted a smog control law here!

Steve Cotton said...

Billie -- We may be seeing the first steps of putting a true vice on the drug lords. If so, we will know soon.

glorv1 said...

Hmmm. I would be scared. You will have to go through a lot living outside the states. You are a strong woman, I wouldn't like the idea of having to be asked questions and people going in my car or trunk of my car. I just would feel violated. I guess though it is a way of life if you live out of the USA and/or travel. I stay home, sometimes with all doors locked.:)) Take care.

Babs said...

Interesting to me was way fewer checkpoints going up and coming back into Mexico. I was lucky and got greenlights coming back in.....and the guy standing at the cuota checkpoint near Matuehaula ( I know I'm not spelling that right)
I spoke to in English so he just asked where I was going and waved me on.......I don't have an emissions sticker and no one has ever said anything about that.....
My trip was as easy as yours......
thankfully - except for the five accidents!

Calypso said...

glorv1 - We had the most invasive and rudest inspection at Hoover dam between Nevada and Arizona.

Inspections in Mexico are a way of life - but the 'boys' are always friendly and polite - unlike U.S. border crossing and that damn dam.

I remind those U.S. border personnel that I fought in Viet Nam and don't need to be pushed around by a bunch of over zealous fascists boy scouts.

You have to go through a lot living in the U.S. I think.

Anonymous said...


I discovered your online blog and wanted to ask you about San Miguel. My husband has been there and loved it. We plan on flying to Leon in mid March and taking a shuttle van to SM.

Now, that we've paid for the casita we'll be staying in and the airline tickets, I'm getting second thoughts regarding safety. There seems to be so many warnings now about Americans being kidnapped or robbed. Is the trip from Leon to San Miguel safe? Is San Miguel, itself, a safe place to vacation. I would appreciate any advice you might have.


We're from the high desert of Southern CA.

Billie said...

I feel safe. It is almost 10 PM and we just walked in the door. We were in the Centro area and walked thru town (a little more than 1/2 mile) back to our house. I don't worry about being kidnapped. Use common sense, get a cab at night if you aren't sure about an area. But San Miguel isn't a border town. I can't promise that nothing will happen but I'm pretty sure than nothing will happen except that you will have a great time.

Bob Mrotek said...

You will probably be safer going from León to San Miguel than you would be when going from San Berardino to Rancho Cucamonga (Ontario Airport) :)

Alfredo said...

Billie, Bob, great advise to Elaine. Elaine, have a wonderful time in beautiful San Miguel.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your responses. I'm really looking forward to the trip. We will be renting a one bedroom casita two blocks from the Jardine.

Do any of you have suggestions about places to visit or things not to miss. We will be there March 16-22.