Km’s Pedalled – 14 km’s to border / 17.5 km’s Mexico
Destination – Mexicali
Some Notes – Where do I even start about today? I mean the day started out with a phone call from long time Voortman Cookie driver John Ligtenberg. So far so good. It was only a few miles to the Mexican border. I really had no idea what to expect. I never crossed a third world country border by bike and during travel restrictions before.
A pretty quiet border crossing
The experience went about as smooth as I could hope for. It was a strange crossing though. Not really what I expected. I expected booths with customs officers. There was none of that. Vehicles seemed to go through lanes that allowed crossing access digitally as long as you had nothing to declare. And then there were inspection guards beyond the swing gate that could inspect or ask questions if they choose? At least that was my interpretation. I am not sure what cars did if they had something to declare. The border was very quiet and I was more focused on what I was supposed to do and where to go. I saw no obvious place for me to go other than a building. I knew I had to fill out and pay for a tourist VISA.
I walked into the only building entrance there was and explained why I was there and where I was going. The rest was filling out and paying for my tourist VISA that only took a few minutes. Beyond that no one asked me any questions or looked at my bike or gear. I was free to go; it was as easy as that.
Navigating Maxicali was not too difficult I just followed Hwy 5 from the border straight through town. I had not made arrangements to stay anywhere and that became my first priority. I came upon a modern shopping mall and that is where I took the time to search Airbnb. And that’s also when I noticed my Verizon phone signal was very weak. I booked an empty apartment on Airbnb that ended up costing me more than I expected due to added fees after the fact. (Airbnb I am not happy with how your pricing scheme is laid out in Mexico!)
Mexico or the US?
I then attempted to switch out my SIM card for a Mexican phone carrier called TelCel. My phone would not read the SIM card!?! I am panicked about this right now. At this stage I just wanted to get checked in to my Airbnb. It has it been a long 1-2 weeks to get here into Mexico. I followed Hwy 5 until I came to Hwy 2 and then went west. This was the easiest way to go and not get lost and there was a Walmart at this intersection.
My Airbnb location
It’s pretty crazy biking down this main streets through a Mexican city. Traffic is busy, I can’t read any signs. While I know what direction I am going I don’t know 2 words in Spanish. I am so much out of my element. People talk about how dangerous Mexico is and no one even notices or cares that I am there. (And yes I know everything can change in a second). And I am thinking about everything that could go wrong (beside danger) and who knows what will go wrong by the end of the day. And what am going to do about my phone situation. And how I can’t understand a word these people are saying. All these thoughts are going through my head.
I went to Walmart. I figured walking into Walmart would orient me in some way. Walmart’s are basically all the same. Boy was I in for a surprise. This Walmart looked like Kmart built in the 70’s that was never renovated. There inventory and selections was so hit and miss I was going around in circles not know which way to turn. The fortunate part about the whole experience is that they have (weak) wifi.
I was able to get to and find my Airbnb easy enough. This is where things started going sideways. While I did not have much luxury in choices of places to stay. I did expect a nicer place. This place is pretty run down. But I can actually deal with that. Mexicali is actually a fairly expensive city (based on my understanding). The part everyone one will love is there are ants. Small ones I kept finding them on the top cover blanket of the bed. I find them on the kitchen counter and the bathroom.
This is the part that has me in a not so great a spot. There was no wifi instructions and my phone has no signal here to contact the landlord. I need wifi more than anything right NOW to attempt to figure out my phone SIM card situation. It was mid afternoon when I arrived at the Airbnb. I simply did not have the energy to go back out into the city to figure out a wifi signal. That Walmart was probably 3 miles away. The one and only good thing about this place was that I could actually just wheel my bike through the front door. All my other Airbnb options where for private rooms. I had no idea what kind of bike security or storage issues I would face with only a private room.
I found ants on the bed
My work station and every night I find a cockroach or 2 in the bathroom
I decided to take a shower and take a long nap. I needed rest so I could start thinking clearly about this next stage of the bike ride adventure. I was now in Mexico. I don’t want think or imagine the challenges ahead of me. After my long nap I decided to tear apart all my bags and all my gear. I hadn’t done this since Las Vegas and I needed to see what is what and where everything was at. And so I spent the entire evening and late into the night going through my gear and organizing and reorganizing everything in it’s proper spot. Luckily I had a can of Chunky soup for dinner that I never had for breakfast so I never left the Airbnb the whole night.
Some Notes – My first night in Mexico would not be complete without a discovery of one of those honking big cockroaches in the middle of the night during a bathroom visit.
I slept in this morning.
What a long day. I basically spent the whole day dealing with my phone and a new SIM. I couldn’t get it to work yesterday so I had no wifi connection. I did get my wifi info for the Airbnb though. I spent all day today trying to figure out this SIM card situation and then went back to the main Mexican provider – TelCel and the SIM card worked.
I now have a Mexican phone number. Social media is free data here in Mexico. For $10 USD a month I was activated and have 3GB of data.
I am total exhausted. I finally had tacos. The BEST food I have had this entire year. My main grief now is with online banking and new Mexican phone number. I have no way to call 1-800 bank assist numbers. I watched a lot of tv tonight as I am too mentally exhausted to deal with anything.
The very best meal this entire year – seriously!
The forecast shows for lots of 120 F days ahead of me next week!!!