We took a summer vacation to the states for one month, to visit family in July!  Besides our family of five, we also took two friends from church with us…Mexican brothers whose father was American (but passed away 10 years ago), but mother is Mexican. One brother had never been to the states, and the other had only once been to the states with his dad on a roadtrip when he was 9 years old. So, it was basically a “first trip” for both of them!

The drive was beautiful…

Most Mexican highways are big, wide, and awesome. We love the standard way of driving in Mexico.  Basically they have very wide highways with what looks like large bike lanes on the sides. However, you would be mistaken to think they are bike lanes–they are not! Instead, slower cars drive on the right hand side, crossing over the white line lane, and the center of the road (where the yellow line is) is a general passing area for cars going either direction. It makes traffic move faster and smoother, since you don’t have to wait for passing lanes or a break in traffic to pass a slow vehicle. It is not at all uncommon to have 3 cars passing each other side-by-side with this kind of setup.

Seeing the unique chapels in every Mexican town is one treat of driving through the country. Every town (big or small) has a chapel, which is the hub/center of town!

I think I should make a book of just photographs of Mexican doors. So much variety! But surely a book like this already exists, right?! There were some funky, large resorts in some of the bigger towns we passed. This was a high end hotel/spa that was way above our budget!

Last, but not least…our final stop in Mexico was at customs to return our VISAs and auto permit. There wasn’t a convenient place to park our van with the cargo trailer we were pulling, so the parking lot attendant let us pull up behind a bunch of parked vehicles in the parking lot. No worries…we were going to be fast!  Jared stayed in the car with the kids, and I can ran in to the auto registration place to return our auto permit. The attendant came out to the parking lot to double check the VIN, and it was at this time Jared informed me that Maiya had peed her car seat.

WHAT?! Seriously?! How old is this kid?! How often does she have problems? Next to NEVER…and she chose this very moment?!

Yes…and it was soaked. Out came the seat, off came the cover, off came Maiya’s clothes, out came some back-up clothes, all while the auto permit lady checked us out.

Next, I gave Jared all of our VISAs and asked him to run in to return those, while I was stuck here. He disappeared, and the auto permit lady completed her work and left us. I continued to get Maiya dressed and get her seat covered with an alternative padding (medical pads work as great carseat back-ups…thankfully we keep one in our van!).

The brothers went with Jared and Ella to return the VISA. I was told by the auto permit lady that I could move our vehicle to a more convenient spot (where we weren’t blocking other cars), so I went to start up the car to move it.

I turned the key, and NOTHING happened. The engine didn’t turn over the slightest. Click-click-click-nothing.


The parking lot attendant was now looking at me funny, wondering why I was not moving the van. Then he realized there was no hope–the van was dead, and now at least 4 vehicles we were blocking were stuck as well.

The brothers returned and told me I need to go return my VISA in person. I ran in with Ethan and Maiya and switched places with Jared, who ran out to the dead van.

I finished up the VISA return, and returned to see this small crowd outside our van…

It turned out that the guys in the orange truck on the left needed to get out, but realized we’re weren’t moving. So, they took matters into their hands and started tinkering under our hood. They determined that perhaps the cables to our battery were loose, and after wiggling some stuff around, the van started! Wahoo!
Crisis diverted
Meanwhile, a friendly couple pulled up next to us and told us that their friend is a mechanic, and we could follow them to the friend’s business if we wanted our van looked at. We had a long trip ahead of us, and were somewhat tempted to get it looked at in cheap Mexico, instead of expensive USA. However, we kindly turned them down, realizing that our car permit was now invalid and we no longer had VISAs to even be in Mexico. Better to get across the US border, at that point!
And that we did.
But not without a bit of trepidation.
With all that said and done, I still think it is scarier to pass into the US than into Mexico. US border agents are much more intimidating, in my opinion!
Good or bad?  Depends which side you are on!

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