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Old 01-04-2014, 09:41 PM   #1
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Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

January 4 2014:
There are 9 of us on a skoolie at the Mexican border, we are on a shoestring budget headed to Guatemala and back over the next two months.
We are at Los Indigos International Free Trade Bridge crossing near Brownsville Texas. THIS IS THE ONLY BORDER CROSSING FOR LARGE VEHICLES GOING THROUGH THE BORDER because they have the only inspecion facility, apparently, at this southmost point of Texas, and it's only open on weekdays to busses and trucks. Go here if crossing to Mexico on a bus or motorhome to S or E Mexico and beyond, or enlighten me otherwise.

We've been here for two days trying to get in but Mexican customs wants want $600 for a "Transmigrante" permit, which we didn't plan into our budget and can only be arranged through one of many Transmigrante brokers on the US side mainly accomodating importers and exporters.

Aduanal Mexico (mexican customs) says this "Tramite/ Transmigrante" permit is the only way in their system to let a vehicle registered as "Bus" into the country, and it is valid for only 7 or 10 days and intended for travel to other countries or for selling the vehicle in Mexico. The fees are apparently increasing every year due to more and more busses headed to Central America to be used as Camionetas ("Chicken Busses")
.
We've been talking with agents at the Veteran's bridge crossing, including unofficial Mexican border agents posing as official who took me in a private car to someone's house to try and do business at a private broker who could be connected with who knows..anybody, with US border agents at Veteran's Bridge and at Los Indigos US customs, and the much more helpful agents during several other trips on bicycle to the Mexican crossing at LI.

After talking with three brokers and all of these customs agents in broken bilingual conversations this weekend we are not clear whether the price is $600 to permit both directions, because some have told us yes and others say we have to go through another broker at the Guatemala/ Mexico border on the way back and pay another $300-500 to get the "Tramite". Who knows why it would be less going S to N but whatever, it's ******* Mexico. We'll figure out more and update tomorrow including a link to our blog.

If you're going to Mexico on a skoolie and the title says "Bus", do whatever you have to and get your title changed to RV or motorhome because it will save you a lot of time and money and allow you more than 7 or 10 days in Mexico, until they finally update their system to allow for this. Maybe other states or border agents would let the bus through and give us the vehicle permits and window stickers, but none of these guys are into it, or our bribes.

Lots of other details if you want updates but we need your info ASAP if you have done this before, even if it's 4 in the morning.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:40 AM   #2
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

James

Sorry your having issues. I don't think I can offer any thing to help but whatever you do get it in writing. My new deal when I buy cars now from a dealership is at the closing of the deal pull out my phone and video me asking the dealer questions as to what is covered and what is not. I thought of this too late with my last car but rest assured this will be SOP in the future. Hard to say they didn't say this or that when its documented on video.
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Old 01-06-2014, 03:17 PM   #3
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

Here's the deal that nobody told us about until we figured it out for ourselves today then asked other transmigrantes about today. The border is run by mafia, at least in Tamulipas, who control all of the commercial traffic into and through Mexico. The official border agents behind yhe desk say we have everything we need except for a receipt "recibo" which we can obtain from several transmigrante agencies on the US side or where most people get it, on the side of the road from a handsome man operating out of an expensive looking off-road vehicle parked in the grass after the bridge but before Mexican customs. All of the other transmigrantes are lined up to pay this guy an he gives them recibos and they go through the border with no problem. These cars all have bright transmigrante bumper stickers on the front basically saying "we paid". An important thing to note is that the paperwork that needs to be done is a list of all items you are traveling with, which the official and unofficial border agents receive.

The mafia doesn't want to attract attention from tourists, americans, etc., but there's no other way in the official mexican system to let through a vehicle with a bus title through than to group it with other commercial vehicles, thereby putting us in the mafia's area of control.

The prices kept changing, nothing made clear sense and they kept giving us the run around in hopes that we will na´vely pay and be quiet or give up and go home. We turned around, we're going to Chicago to fly to Guatemala. Once again, **** borders, **** mafia, **** cops, **** trolls, **** cannibals. This bus trip was about breaking down borders and opening up new opportunities and once again we are stunted by those who want to control the planet and feast on the living.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:23 PM   #4
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

I am a veteran of many a spring break (in the 90s) of where you are. Things were very different then but now days... there is NO WAY IN HELL I would drive across the border in any thing. Most border towns not are so dangerous its not even funny to joke about.

As bad as your venture has gone... I think you have done the right thing. It would not be a good ending to find out you got kidnapped or killed. Both of those things are very common now days.
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:52 PM   #5
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bapos
I am a veteran of many a spring break (in the 90s) of where you are. Things were very different then but now days... there is NO WAY IN HELL I would drive across the border in any thing. Most border towns not are so dangerous its not even funny to joke about.

As bad as your venture has gone... I think you have done the right thing. It would not be a good ending to find out you got kidnapped or killed. Both of those things are very common now days.
Ummm... I can't speak for Texan border towns, but that is not at all true of Tijuana. I suspect you are being swayed heavily by media, but i could be wrong. At any rate, that is not remotely true of either of the crossings south of San Diego (San Ysidro or Otay Mesa). And as dangerous as the media wants you to think Mexico is, it isn't true. Yes, there are areas of Tijuana I wouldn't go to at night, but its just a city. Good areas, bad areas. I've crossed both borders many times, including twice with my bus.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:41 PM   #6
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

Gee...I watched that Netflix video about them bringing buses to Guatemala. Even the Guat natives were terrified about going through Mexico saying about the same thing you are saying.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:58 PM   #7
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

Take your misfortune as a sign. Turn around and stay in the country of safety. This is only the beginning of your trip, and the bully's have you stalled and cornered.

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Old 01-08-2014, 10:58 AM   #8
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

I crossed the border at Nogales, AZ last year in a Winnebago with 8 other people, and they didn't even ask for our passports, just the driver of the vehicle (which we switched right in front of them because the driver had no passport ). But they DID ask for $400 for some Mexican insurance, which was explained to us as a deposit so we don't sell our vehicle in Mexico. So there is no way around that one, but I think you get it back. I wouldn't know for sure though cause that guy we met in Slab City that we convinced to drive us to Mexico, got drunk on Day of the Dead on Mezcal, and lost it. So we packed our bags and me and my buddy an hitchhiked the rest of the way, we never saw him again.

..so, yeah there's no way around it, the money is more important to them than the laws down there in mehico so, I would say save some money first.



..and Bapos is right, border towns are very dangerous, but don't let that scare you. I would just fill up your tank before you cross the border and drive until you need to stop for more. Don't drive at night! (Locals drive insane during nighttime). And know the exchange rate, the locals in northern Mexico WILl rip you off any chance they get. But don't worry about the mafia, unless you look like a tourist with lots of money, in our case we looked like some gypsy vagabonds with no more than 5 bucks, and they were right
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Old 01-08-2014, 08:33 PM   #9
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Re: Mexico experience? HELP! ASAP.

I've driven across the various Texas/Mexico borders many times during the 1990s, but that was a different time. I have a friend who lives in Mexico now, and knows what is going on. According to him the drug cartels essentially run many cities/towns with the government complicit in the whole mess, and the Mexican border towns, and many other northern towns are definitely dangerous places, especially for gringos. It's not just media hype. There are some areas that are relatively safe, and others that are to be avoided. Places like Monterrey and Saltillo used to be great, but now are war zones. Unfortunately, unless you have a good inside source of information, you may not know which places to avoid. The violence/warfare down there seems to migrate from one area to the next as the various players vie for power/control. I would not go within 100 miles of that place, unless I was flying directly into an area that I knew was safe. Driving across the border is risky.

Any other Texans (Or Californians, Arizonans, or New Mexicans) have stories and/or impressions to relate? I'd be curious to hear what other people have experienced.
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