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Drive to PV . final 2 Days

Recap from last post:


We made it to Laredo and felt butterflies since we'd be crossing the Mexican border the next morning.

This is where it's gonna get real.

It was the night before the border crossing and we were tired, hungry, and nervous with excitement!

There was no turning back now. We knew in our hearts that we were doing the right thing - and we were ready to LIVE THE DREAM!

We were at La Quinta in Laredo - La Quinta's in the States allow dogs, so it was pretty easy along the way to find places to stay, which I mapped out ahead of time.

day 5 . december 11 2016

3AM in the morning


What the hell was that?

We'd heard Laredo is a tough town

Was it gun shots?

Terror ran through my veins. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe.

There're NO LIGHTS

I loudly whispered Todd's name several times to wake him up

We cautiously made our way to the front desk with our iphone flashlights

A transformer blew out

Phew - my heart was still beating a million miles a minute. There's no use trying to sleep now. We planned on waking at 6 anyway to get an early start, what's a few hours. Everyone's advice was to go to the border AFTER sunrise in Laredo - but we left in the blackness of the early morning at 4:30am.

It took about 15 minutes to find the border crossing. A Mexican guard with a flashlight waved us through - no car search.

Awesome, that was easy!

Next was the check-in building. After driving around in circles, we finally found the building - It was NOT easy to find, especially in the dark. The parking lot was packed, muddy and armed guards were running around - seriously, they weren't standing around, they were running around - which made me nervous.

There may have been lights but I don't remember them - it was scary dark in the parking lot.

We found a parking spot and left the dogs in the car - I did NOT want to leave them.

There was UTTER CHAOS inside the building.

We found the first and second lines and were through within half an hour.

The next line was for the car sticker (you can get it in the states, but when Todd went to the Mexican Consulate in Chicago to get it, there was a line and he was told you can get it at the border, so he decided that's what we'd do). The car sticker area was NOT UTTER CHAOS, it was MUCH MUCH WORSE - like a Disney World line at the Twilight Zone of Terror, weaving and winding and weaving and winding with no end in site!

Good thing we arrived early. We found out while waiting in line that this is the worst time of year to cross the border - Mexicans in the U.S. go home for Christmas in December, which is one of their biggest holidays. Even the government shuts down for two weeks.

Lesson learned, though a little too late

While waiting in that long Disney line, I left three times to check on the dogs and sit with them in the car. They seemed perfectly fine, but it made me feel better (and maybe I needed to be near their calm, loving energy).

I don't remember what time the sun broke in the horizon, but it seemed like hours - when it did finally rise, I breathed a sigh of relief as the whole atmosphere didn't seem as intimidating.

After waiting FIIIIVVVE FRICKEN' HOURS, we received our car sticker! FIVE

Moral of the story - NEVER EVER drive to Mexico in December! But if you must, be sure to get the car sticker in the U.S. or Canada. And other people have said they went at that time of the year and had no problem at the Columbia Bridge (the newer crossing near Laredo).

I don't know, I wouldn't chance it ever again. We wanted to cross at the Columbia Bridge crossing, but the information we found said that that crossing was closed.

The next step was to wait in a small car line to leave the border area. Getting close!

A guard checked our car sticker, which was now proudly attached to our front window. And then we were through!

The realization hit me - we were now on Mexican land. I felt ecstatic and sad all at the same time. Sad that we were leaving our home country - ecstatic to start our new life.

After the Laredo border crossing in Mexico

FIRST photo taken in Mexico!

Here's the toll road - smooth, light traffic. It's still a little gloomy and the weather wasn't good the whole trip so far. But after 1/2 hour - waaait for it... TAADAAA! HELLO GORGEOUS SUN! Cue Celine Dion singin' MY HEART WILL GO ON!!! (first song that came to mind). I guess because I felt my heart had the warm fuzzies now that I could see and feel the WARM SUN!) Taking off the coats! Woop!!

We're SINGING, we're DANCIN' in our car seats, YIIIPPPEEEE! How gorgeous and warm it is.

Where's the car around this guy?

For navigating through Mexico, we had the car's navigation (which wasn't up-to-date), a Garmin (Remember those? We updated it before the trip and added Mexico, however, when we got to Mexico, there were no roads - the screen looked like mountains), and we had iPhone google maps (the most up-to-date). We relied on the iPhone map and the car navigation screen. I also knew the roads we were taking ahead of time. You want to take as many toll roads as you can, which was most of the journey via the path we took to Vallarta.

Somehow we got lost.

We veered off the Toll Road onto another road that turned into a smaller road. We ended up in a small town with dirt roads. We checked the map and found the toll road where we needed to be, so we headed in that general direction - none of the maps were clear about whether there would be an entrance ramp to the toll road, plus there were lots of mountains and windy roads.

After an hour detour, we found the toll road!

We arrived at the Hilton in San Luis Potosi at around 5pm - it was a much longer day than anticipated.

Look how dirty our car is, happy we are, and hungry Asha is (lickin' her chops).

The Hilton in Mexico ALLOWS DOGS! YAYYYY! Definitely make your reservations ahead of time once you get to Mexico. I made a reservation the previous day.

Love the character at this hotel! Even the dogs seemed joyful at this hotel and jumped around when we arrived in our spacious elegant room!

We had dinner that night and breakfast the next morning at the hotel - the food was incredible. I highly recommend the Hilton in San Luis Potosi!

Day 6 . December 12 2016 . LAST DAY

The last day of the journey

It was still surreal that we were moving to Puerto Vallarta

The morning started out with curvy mountain roads

Back on the toll road.

Blue agave fields that will some day be a shot of tequila

Cows in open fields, looove. There's more green in the terrain. We were four hours from Guadalajara when I drove for the FIRST TIME.

(Todd prefers to drive, and I prefer to be a snoring passenger)

I was driving through Guadalajara so there are no photos of the city.

Green mountains after the city.

Eventually there'll be a toll road all the way from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta, shortening the 4-5 hours down to 2-3 hours. For now there's a partial toll road and also winding roads in the mountains.


We must be getting close



This made me tear up - our new home!

It's been 6 days since we left freezing Chicago



We love the positive hustle bustle of this small city. It has good energy and we found out later that there're ley lines in Vallarta (positive energy - possibly magnetic, magical).

That may explain why we fell in love with Puerto Vallarta and knew we wanted to live there after just four days. And it may explain why tourist after tourist comes here and immediately falls in love.

Our property manager met us at the house we rented.

A few photos of our new home after our things arrived the next day.

Asha just had a shower.

We were extremely excited to have our own salt-water pool in the back yard

The beginning of a new chapter


Kathleen Naomi

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