The two week dream that was Houston came to an end yesterday. All that positivity, fun, relaxation, and sheer awesomeness… like I said, it was like a dream and I didn’t want it to end. Thus, it was a difficult goodbye at the bus station.
I wasn’t worried about taking the plunge into the unknown or what lies on the other side of my life after the bus ride. I wasn’t even worried that I am starting off this adventure without a cell phone. Somehow I lost it in Houston. I am really not worried to start the plunge. I’ve planned enough and have enough faith in myself and in humanity that everything will be alright – great even. I just didn’t want to leave.
But alas, I boarded the bus in Houston and the 19 hour journey to San Luis Potosi, Mexico began. There weren’t too many stops and the bus was never crowded.
The border was interesting and I kind of wish I could have seen it during the day. I saw the giant US flag but I didn’t see the corresponding one on the Mexican side. When we got to the Mexican side, an immigration policeman checked passports and asked two of us to step off the bus and go into the office.
I entered the office and talked to the guy. Despite my US passport, he talked to me in Spanish. It was about 1am and I really haven’t gotten much sleep these past two weeks, but my Spanish was fine. He asked what I was going to do in Mexico and I said “voy a ofrecerme” which I think translates to “I am going to offer myself”. But it’s the translation I know of for volunteering. He asked what I would be offering, so I said “voy a ser un voluntario” or “I will be a volunteer”. I explained that I had a friend with a farm and I would help her out on the farm. I didn’t do a great job explaining myself and I guess it sounded weird as it came out of my mouth, but better to be honest even if it’s hard to understand.
He asked how long I would be there and I said one week. I am planning to stay in Mexico longer than a week though, but I think he asked how long I’ll be in San Luis Potosi. Or that’s how I interpreted it. This could have been a bad move. I went to Dublin, Ireland in 2006 and at immigration I said I was just staying for a day. They gave me an entry visa for one week instead of the customary 3-month normal visa. If Mexico had done the same, I would have had a problem. Instead I got a 180-day visa in the form of a tourist card. I have to pay 260 Pesos or $23 when I get to San Luis Potosi for the visa. So then we went through customs. My bag was not inspected and I just stayed on the bus.
Just after crossing the border from Laredo, Texas to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, I changed buses. It was easy. The bus was right next to the one I arrived on and since I arrived a bit early I could take the bus leaving in a few minutes. It saved about an hour for the journey.
I went to sleep and then all of a sudden I woke up and we were at another immigration/customs checkpoint. My first thought is that I got on the wrong bus and I was heading back into the US! But I wasn’t. This time, the immigration policeman just asked to see my passport on the bus and reminded me to pay the fee when I get to where I am going.
Back to sleep.
Then we arrived in Monterrey, Mexico. I didn’t get off the bus. I just stayed curled up in a ball across two seats trying to go back to sleep. It was about 2:30am. All of a sudden there was a very bright light in my face. I opened my eyes and all I saw was a gigantic machine gun. Literally. It took up my entire field of vision. I hate guns with a passion, but I didn’t freak out or anything. I just handed the guy my passport. He looked at it for a second and then moved on. His shirt identified him as federal police. I guess it was a bit freaky, but I survived
When the sun came up I started looking out the window and I really like the scenery I’m driving by. No picture ever captures these scenes well, but the semi-arid desert and the mountains look beautiful in my opinion.
I arrived about 1.5 hours earlier than expected so I had some time to kill. I put up this post and sent some emails. It’s really not convenient walking around with my backpack right now – or at least until I figure out the ideal settings for all the straps.