Our drive to Mazatlan

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Escrito por Jane desde (dsl-187-149-38-36-dyn.prod-infinitum.com.mx) el día viernes, 26 de noviembre, 2010 a las 19:27:18 horas :

We wanted to let you know how our trip from Arizona to Mazatlan went this week, because it's something we'd like to have passed around. For several weeks, really months before we left California, we read everything we could about the situation in Mexico, especially as it pertained to traveling safety. The Los Angeles Times has a daily column on the front page entitled "Mexico Under Seige." which never seems to miss any little bit of news pertaining to death and destruction. We read them all, watched the travel forums, monitored the US State Department website, and still decided to make the trip, and now want to share with anyone who had decided not to come to Mexico, or, like us, are always looking for "current, real life travel experiences."
We crossed the border at Lukeville Arizona about 9am Wednesday, November 23. Easy crossing, picked up our personal paperwork, and proceeded on to Santa Ana. The road has now been widened all the way from Lukeville to Santa Ana. What a treat! 1.5 lanes each way, with the toll section being two lanes each way. We made the turn at Santa Ana onto the main highway from Nogales, and pulled into San Carlos for the sunset. Thursday, Nov. 24, Thanksgiving, we left San Carlos and pulled into Mar Rosa RV Park in Mazatlan at sunset, making the drive in 10 hours instead of our usual 11.
Here is what is new and what isn't: Tolls must now be paid in pesos, because the government is trying to control the amount of foreign currency an individual changes per month, in an attempt to slow down the drug cartels money laundering. We were still able to stop at the Casa de Cambio in Santa Ana and change $500US each into pesos, no problem. The new regulations have no affect on ATM use.
The roads are in even better shape than ever, with a fair amount of construction being done, but well managed, and it doesn't slow you down.
Vehicles with foreign plates are being given every courtesy possible. What does this mean? There are LOTS of check points, but they are different than in the past. They are run by the Army, the PFP's (highway police) and the Municipal Police. There will be a group of 4-6 marked vehicles with cones out, no topes, logs, ropes, or the bouncy stuff, and they are talking to all drivers EXCEPT for those with foreign plates. We are just waved through. In two instances, there were 2 vehicles ahead of us, so we were pointed at, traffic stopped, and we were flagged through with no delay. Quite a difference than in the past, and it made is feel welcome, wanted and watched out for.
The one thing that we are really worried about isn't what we expected: There are so few RV/trailer travelers that we may be cutting our own throats. We have all become accustomed to being able to find a park to stay in most places, even if we had to make reservations well in advance. With so few travelers, many parks, both large and small, are going to shut down because they just don't have enough business.
We are trying to do our best to help with this: Our next stop will be a tiny 4 space park on a beautiful beach that we could never get in to. This year the owners think we may have it to ourselves. Great for us, bad for them. Places like Mar Rosa, here in Mazatlan, where you could never get into a beach front space has only 12 rigs in it, and plenty of space, even beach front. As I sit and type this, I have an unobstructed view of the beach and islands from my table! Again, great for us, bad for the Mexican Tourist industry.
What we are trying to convey is that we feel safe traveling in Mexico. Are there places we wouldn't want to go? Of course, but that's also true in the US. We wish Mexico great success in their drug wars, and hope that they can say afloat economically while doing it. If you are afraid of road travel in Mexico, fly. If you always overnighted in Pemex's and are uneasy, pay a little more, stay in an RV park. We don't hesitate to stay in a Pemex, just didn't happen to time it right, and are hearing great reports, like always, of the great security guards and staff in them, from several people who stayed in them this year. Do stay at a Pemex that is designed for extended parking! Work it out in a way that you are comfortable with, Just don't let your fears make you lose what you have always enjoyed visiting.

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