The Shipstern Natur Reserve
"Jungle Patrol" Land Rover 109 in
Day 12: Blancaneaux, bZ to Villahermosa,
For a change, we were the first ones
up and ready for breakfast. Our group and the Nances
were just finishing up our meal as everyone else
came stumbling in for breakfast. Our plan was to
get on the road earlier than the group, as we were
planning to drive on to Villahermosa for the night,
another hundred miles or so past Cd. del Carmen,
the rest of the group's destination.
Luis walked in asking if we had seen
the space shuttle the night before. We remarked
that we had seen it, and he said he had never seen
it flying so close before.
We said our goodbyes to everyone and
we were off, racing back to the States. Once on
the road we hauled butt up to Corozal to meet up
with Dustin and Carey. Along the way we made a brief
stop at a Land Rover repair shop on the Northern
Highway. Evidently the owner, Steve, takes ex-MOD
Land Rovers and converts/restores them for civilian
use. He had built the 24v 110 that we saw at Sea
Sports Belize on Day 6
in Belize city.
We met up with Dustin & Carey,
compared stories of our adventures from the past
couple of days and made the short drive to the Belize/Mexican
border. They almost didn't let Tracy into Mexico
because a guard couldn't read the proper dates on
her paperwork. The guard, probably attempting "la
mordida", offered to take care of the paperwork
problem for us, for a modest fee.
Crossing between Belize and Mexico,
we discovered the Free Zone. This is a small area
of "no-man's land" between Belize and
Mexico is a duty free zone where many items can
be bought very cheap. For the entrance price of
10 pesos per vehicle (about $1.10) we were able
to get duty free Shell gas for the low price of
$1.75 (US) per gallon, about half of what we had
been paying ever since we left the states.
Pulling away from the border in Mexico,
we heard the rest of the group on the CBs saying
that they had just pulled into the Belize side of
the border. Ironically, although they were only
a block away from us, the impending paperwork for
them meant that we were at least an hour ahead of
The route we took across the Yucatan
crossed a part of Chiapas, considered to be the
most dangerous of the Mexican states. We were stopped
at a checkpoint and submitted to what was easily
the most thorough search of the trip, we were sent
through a huge X-Ray machine that looked through
(literally) our vehicles.
The X-Ray inspection delayed us for
almost an hour, and put us into Villahermosa well
after dark. Upon arriving in Villahermosa, the inspection
had turned out to be a good thing; evidently about
a half hour before we arrived a tornado and/or freak
storm had come through town knocking out power to
most of the city, and blowing over trees and flooding
portions of the streets. People and debris were
everywhere and it didn't help the four lane intersections
didn't have lights because it turned into a free-for-all
just to cross a street.
After spending an hour and a half
driving around the city trying to find an open hotel
with electricity, we finally checked into a hotel
just off the highway. We had a quick dinner from
the hotel's restaurant and went straight to bed,
tomorrow is going to be another long day on the
Day 13: Villahermosa, MX to Tampico,
A rather uneventful driving day today,
we got on the road promptly at 6 am and started
our marathon trek. We took the expensive toll roads
again, so our peso supply was drained a bit. To
help pass the time, we played inter-vehicle Scattegories.
Dustin had brought the game with him and we played
by communicating our answers across the CBs.
We pulled into town and ended up staying
at the Hotel San Antonio, the same place where we
stayed on the drive down. We lucked out though because
this was the first day that they opened the newly
constructed 4th and 5th floors. That means we were
the first people to ever sleep in our room. Unfortunately,
that also meant that our beds felt like we were
the first ones to ever sleep there: stiff as a board.
We went in search of dinner after
having said goodnight and goodbye to the Nance's.
They would spend the next day in Tampico and wait
for the rest of the group to catch up. Dustin, Carey
and Nathan opted to eat at the Gato Rojo (the Red
Cat), a cheap outdoor taco bar with a cool logo
on the main road through Tampico, while Tracy went
for the safe choice: KFC.
El Gato Rojo
(The Red Cat): cheap tacos in Tampico.
Day 14: Tampico, MX to San Antonio,
We had another semi-early start today.
Today we complete the last Mexican leg of the trip
and cross back into the United States. This time,
we made sure that we took the new express highway
from Tampico to Cd. Victoria. Suprisingly, taking
this road shaved hours off of our trip, and we were
at the border crossing into the United States just
after 1 pm.
a stroke of either good planning or dumb luck, Camel rolled
into the US literally on fumes. The gas light came on while
waiting in line to cross the border, so to conserve gas,
we turned the Disco off when not creeping across the bridge.
We quietly rolled up to the US agriculture inspection with
no engine on and barely had the momentum to get out of line.
The Mexican gasoline was completely drained from the tank
and we filled up with a fresh tank of US gas just blocks
across the border in the States. It also meant that we could
fill up with the cheapest gas since leaving the US, at $1.10/gallon
out of the agricultural inspection station at the border,
we spied a huge sign for Burger King. It proved the old
business adage of "Location, location, location"
as we were not a quarter mile from the border and we we're
"Having it Our Way" WITH ice AND lots of fresh
tomatoes and lettuce and onions and pickles.
We said our goodbyes to Dustin and
Carey. They were heading to Port Aransas to enjoy
the rest of the weekend sailing, while we were continuing
on to San Antonio. We arrived in San Antonio and
began the mammoth effort of finding a hotel to stay
in. All of the hotels in downtown were completely
booked, so we kept looking until we finally found
a hotel up in the northeast corner of the city,
about a 20 minute drive from downtown.
Exhausted from three long days on
the road, a distance we took almost six days to
cover on the way down, we had a quick light dinner
and went to sleep.
Days 15 & 16: San Antonio, TX to
We woke up late on day 15, stumbling
out of bed at almost 10 am. We quickly packed up
and took Lynn and Dorothy to downtown San Antonio.
They planned to spend the weekend there visiting
the sights, then fly back to Hawaii on Monday.
We dropped them off in front of the
Alamo, taking the mandatory "I was here"
photos out front. On the way out of town, we stopped
by the Land Rover San Antonio dealership to impress
them with our travels, but the people there seemed
rather indifferent and we found nothing cool to
buy as they seemed to cater more to the upscale
Range Rover crowd.
Tracy and her
parents pose in front of the Alamo.
Nathan and Tracy
driving away after dropping off Lynn and Dorothy
at the Alamo in San Antonio.
Traveling across west Texas, we saw
what at first appeared to be a twister, but we later
concluded was a huge dirt devil. We stopped, took
the obligatory "what in the hell was that?"
photo and kept on driving.
A giant dirt
devil stretches almost up to the clouds north
of San Antonio, TX.
We stopped in Dalhart for the night
and took the last picture of our expedition...
West Texas sunset.
The next morning, we woke up and finished
up the short drive remaining to home. After eighteen
days on the road, we covered 6,065 miles. Averaging
about 10.5 mpg we used almost 580 gallons of petrol.
I now have nineteen new stamps in my passport and
some amazing memories to last I lifetime. We can't
wait to go back.