A first taste of the USA
Our last day in Mexico passed without special incident. It was a straight driving day and we had 1100 kilometres to cover while driving from Matahuala to Houston, Texas.
The roads in Mexico are good and the driving on the highways is very easy. The “danger” seems to be very similar to the USA. There is crime, but it seems to keep to itself. In all our time here, we never heard of one traveler who was a victim of any type of crime or violence. I doubt actually a traveler in the USA could say the same thing.
We got up at 6am and hit the road, driving north for 7 straight hours. Despite our expired car import permit, expired tourist visas and a missing car registration, the boarder crossing was quick, easy and free of fees! Needless to say, we had been a bit worried about how it was all going to go. Thankfully, the Mexicans are not as strict about rules as some other (not pointing fingers here) countries.
Back on the USA side for the first time in 7 months. I was wondering what would be the first thing to strike me as different. I was betting it would be the perfectness of the appearance – perfectly manicured lawns, fresh paint and buildings that are straight up (ie not falling sideways or missing chunks). No, not at all. In fact there were 3 other things that took me by (sad) surprise:
- no people outside. We drove 4 hours through south-east Texas on a rural route that went through community after community from 2-6pm. We didn’t see one person outside walking. Not one kid on a bike, not one person in their garden or out working a field. No one out talking in front of a store or in a park. In Mexico we are used to seeing people outside all the time. Everywhere and generally with groups of family/friends, with a horse, dog or goat, by bike or foot. We miss them already.
- the mega size of everything. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not a new traveler to the USA. I know about the social bigness. But what I hadn’t noticed is that it extends to everything – oversized schools and buildings, huge parking lots, big roads with wide shoulders, large signs and intersections, power lines and industry. Where are the adorable windy country roads of Mexico? The unspoiled landscapes and natural beauty? Damn it, I even miss the natural beauty of a dirt parking lot.
- overuse of adjectives. For example, our cellphone has been buzzing with “emergency warnings”, the highway sign flashes “major accident ahead”, and the radio – wow lets just keep that off. But you can’t shut off all the signs. They are unavoidable in their imposing size, colour and placement. Phew. No wonder Americans are tired.
It isn’t just us who see the dangers of this supercharged lifestyle. We are now in Houston staying with our wonderful friends Susie and Jacob, who will soon be moving their family to Hawaii to get away from it all. They have been wonderful to put us up for a few days a let us acclimatize before we continue our road north. It has been a great visit full of fun and the kids get along just perfectly. Thanks to Susie for a few of these photos. I think my photo taking was also in culture shock. The cover photo above is one I took on one of our last nights in Cuyutlan. It is of the moon setting on the horizon around 5am and it seemed like an appropriate photo for closing out the mexican part of our adventure.