Day 1: Houston, TX to Brownsville
After months of planning and preparation, our group of adventurers gathered together for the big send off at Land Rover Houston. Both Dustin and Nathan were running on “Hindman Time” and arrived at the dealership about 20 minutes late. Dustin was late because he needed to go to AAA to get Mexican and Central American Insurance.
Evidently, the company he had been working with for the past week (Sanborne’s of Brownsville) had been dragging their feet on the paperwork. When Friday, the day before departure came around, Dustin called only to be informed that the woman taking care of his paperwork had just quit and they couldn’t get him insurance in time… the adventure begins.
After a short driver’s meeting/orientation and a photo opportunity in front of the dealership, it was time to head for Mexico, 11 vehicles in all.
Once the convoy was out of the concrete jungle of Houston, the drive was very uneventful, but hot. The outside temperature was pretty typical for a July afternoon in Texas – 112 degrees by midday and very humid.
The convoy stopped for lunch at PJ’s Seafood in Victoria, TX. This great little “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant came highly recommended by Dustin’s co-pilot, Carey. For the seafood fans in the group, this place did not disappoint. Leaving Victoria after lunch, some of the group accidentally made a wrong turn when the highway split. The error was caught after only four of the Land Rovers made the turn. Upon looking at the map, it appeared that both routes would meet back up in Brownsville, so we decided to split up and reunite at the evening rendevouz point. This was the first time we were thankful for CB communication betweeen the trucks.
After almost 350 miles and a long day on the road, we pulled in to the Days Inn at the border town of Brownsville, Texas. Ironically, the group that made the wrong turn leaving Victoria arrived at the hotel almost half an hour before the rest of the group.
Pulling into Brownsville, Dustin’s XD, Big Bird, was running poorly. At the hotel, we lifted up the hood and took a look at it. After about an hour of troubleshooting, it was traced to bad fuel, another irony, since we had yet to cross the border into Mexico, where the fuel has a reputation for being of substandard quality. However, we put some water absorbant in the tank and it ran great.
After settling into our rooms, everyone split off to finish up some last minute things and get our last bit of American “culture” for the next 2 weeks. We ran to the local WalMart to get some cables and locks as well as ratchet straps for the roof rack on the Camel Discovery. We then went back to the hotel for an all-too-short night’s sleep. The next morning was expected to be a long one, since we had to do our US/Mexico border crossing, as well as drive all the way to the city of Tampico.