http://www.blogger.com/html?blogID=4316350785635987648 Cave Dwellings: Two Gringos Turned Loose in Mexico

March 2, 2012

March 2, 2012
Georgetown, TX

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Two Gringos Turned Loose in Mexico

Well, we did our little "tour" across the border to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. We left the camper about 8:30AM and headed South into the "valley". It is about an hour and 1/2 to get to the US town of Progresso, and drive about 3 miles South to the International bridge. The route we take is State Rt. 83 which is 4 lanes all the way, making the drive a breeze. We go through Mission, Pharr, Donna, Alamo and McAllen, which is the heart of "Winter Texan" world. These towns have a gazillion (not sure if that is a word, but you get my drift)RV resorts...NOT campgrounds, mind you, but RV resorts...BIIIIIIIIG difference. An RV resort most always has curbed streets, streetlights, bingo halls, dances, swimming pools, movie stars..oops, that was Beverly Hills, right? At any rate, it is a little town of RVs where you see a heck of a lot of people riding around the streets in golf carts. This is the land of premium RVing, definitely NOT camping..different strokes for different folks, and all that jazz.
We got to the International Bridge about 10:15 and parked in the large gravel parking lot..parking is only $2.00 for the day..You pay much more in Chicago and don't come home with near the bargains!
This is where I get very paranoid about losing my passport. I had it clutched tightly in my purse, which I intend to KEEP clutching while across the border. Den had a better idea (he and GE)..he took my passport and put it in his front shirt pocket with his and buttoned them both in..Now I do feel better. They gotta rip off his shirt to get them....hmmm...no, it couldn't be that bad, no one would want his stylish Bubba T shirt.
The pedestrian traffic is herded across the busy road to the other side where you can walk across the bridge...you walk across on the rt side of the bridge and come back to the US on the left side..Crossing involves watching for a break in the traffic to scurry across. Once across the road we both decide to use the restrooms on the US side for one final chance at reasonably clean johns...I did say "reasonably". I made one final check that my camera was securely around my neck and adjusted the strap on my purse as tight as I could and we headed with the crowd toward the turnstyles..Did I mention it costs each person 25 cents to cross the bridge into Mexico? You put your quarter in the turnstyle and away you go!! Kinda like Menards without the quarter.
Once across, I noticed a definite presence of the Mexican military. They had piled sandbags up at certain areas and stood very vigilantly in their camoflage, holding their machine guns...and not smiling one bit..I did not even consider taking a photo of one of those guys..They really didn't look like they would appreciate it and I didn't want my camera confiscated by one of them. They really mean business and I was going to have to behave myself...no sense of humor about any of them, so I know they wouldn't understand my warped sense of humor.
Well, here we were..in Nuevo Progreso..a narrow Main Street crowded with Pharmacias, Dentists, street vendors of every kind, from sunglasses and DVD's to silver jewelry and wind chimes..You name it and they were selling it. See photo..
There were a plethera of souvenier stores...by that I mean a store that you could buy clothes, jewelry, liquor, candy, pottery, sombreros, pewter crucifixes, on and on and on...AND usually there was a bar and restaurant upstairs on the second story. Or , sometimes, there was a bar right there, with stools and you could drink while you shopped...a little trick WalMart might think about.
We wandered up and down the street. I took a photo of a "balloon man"..(or a man trying to be a balloon man)..and here he is....scary..
There were street vendors selling tacos, tortillas, and various foods right on the corners..then there were romantic little streetside tables to sit and eat...I jest, as you can see.

You may want to wash your hands AFTER you eat.We made a decision not to eat over here. I didn't want a bad stomach for any reason. We DID, however, decide to trust the drinking end of it. We wandered in yet another store and saw a sign for the bar with an arrow pointing up the stairs and...away we went to see about a cocktail.
At the top of the steps was a goofy looking plaster Vaquero on one side
and another goofy little plaster waiter in an alcove on the other side..
There is another goofy guy in the photo..Hey wait, I think I know that guy..AND..why the girlie poster in the background??? In between the two was a huge wooden double door, which said "BAR"...no windows, no little peeks..OK, in we go!!
It was dimly lit and we were pleasantly surprised to find Gringos like us in there, which is a good sign..SAFE. We sat down and I ordered a Marquerita on the rocks and Den got a bottle of Corona, served witha bowl of fresh limes slices...and also some hot peanuts. The peanuts, as I discovered, had some dried little peppers in with them. It was so dimly lit I couldn't see them till I felt them! Dennis got brave and ate one..He didn't die or have smoke coming out his ears, so I guess they were OK..I decided not to try. I took a picture of the bar without my flash..I didn't want to draw attention to myself and act like a TOTAL geeky Americano tourist!!
They had a big screen TV and music was playing..we were having fun now, sooooo.. we had one more drink before we left..All in all, we had 2 Margueritas and 2 Coronas for $7.00..plus a $2.00 tip..not bad!
I was on a mission to get some Kahlua before we crossed back, and also some pure vanilla for a few ladies back home...The bottles of Kahlua were $7.75 each (CHEAP!) and the small bottles of vanilla were $1.00 each...such a deal..Dennis also found a beautiful leather belt.He saw it on the street at a vendor's booth for $13.00, but we know never to pay what they ask, so Den got him down to $9.00 and he wouldn't budge from there. Den wanted to pay $7.00 for it , but he still wouldn't sell it for that, so Dennis, being a hard ass, walked away. Den found me just down a few yards eyeballing the silver. Just as we were turning to walk further down the sidewalk, the little guy from the belt booth came running after Den, belt in hand, and said "Mr...hey Mr....$8.00!! I take $8.00". So, Den gave him $8.00 with a satisfied grin..
I need to mention that tons of Winter Texans, of which, I guess, we are..come to Texas to cross to Mexico for dental work..and here is the reason why.. I know many people who have had work done in Mexico are are very satisfied..I DO find it hard to understand why they choose the names for their dental offices, though...for instance, The Purple Tooth..I just don't get it.
Here are a few more photos we took in Nuevo Progreso..Here is a horse and cart going down the street...
We were feeling pretty good about our bargains and now it was 1:30PM and getting busy. We decided it was time to go back across...and here is a photo of the traffic backed up waiting to go across the bridge from the US into Mexico...
We paid our 30 cents at the turnstyles and got in line for customs. I was relieved to have my passport back in my hands..can you imagine having it stolen in Mexico and trying to explain that to the American consulate on the phone?? We declared our booze, vanilla and one very fine belt, then got in another line to pay Texas liquor taxes..Oh, yeah...Texas gets their fair share, too. We paid $1.25 for each bottle of Kahlua, which still makes it a ton cheaper than in the US at $9.00 a bottle..
We climbed back in the truck and headed back to Rt. 83..On the way we found a Valero station that was selling diesel for $2.05 a gallon...Whoa..yet another great bargain!! We had a great time in Mexico, but did notice the military presence. They are having a huge problem with the border towns and the drug cartels shooting it out with the Border Patrol and Mexican police..In fact they have a tourist warning for the border towns of Tiajuana, Chujhuaua, Reyenosa, Metamoras...but NOT Nuevo Progreso..yet!!
We had intentions of stopping in Mission to check out the Vaquero cook off... and we did go into town and try to find it, but the traffic was horrible and they were getting ready for the big Citrus parade, so we shot off onto a side street and headed back West to the peace and quiet of Falcon Lake..Since we hadn't eaten (chose NOT to eat in Mexico) we picked up some Church's chicken and drueled at the smell of it all the way back. We got back about 4:45 PM, just in time for a campfire and ....cocktail hour...(the chicken will be warmed up later)...It was a fun, yet somewhat eye opening day in Nuevo Progreso....With some memorable moments and great bargains..
I will try to find something other than birds and cactus to photo and blog, but, hey,down here "it is what it is", and that's what it is..Later

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