(picture is at the Tabasco border where the military asked for car papers but I told him we didn't have them, had FM3s and the permit was valid. He gave a cursory glance at the permit and waved us on)
So in order to get to the HIM in Veracruz I'd either have to try and figure out shipping the bike, pay upwards of $1200 airfare for the family and rent a car or we'd take a 2-day drive. Drive won out very easily. The girls weren't all that happy about missing out on horse-riding time (as their lessons are on the end of the week and weekend but Jesse was happy to miss out on some of the more boring classes. Pike was looking forward to a change of pace. So pretty much everyone was looking forward to the drive. I had thoughts of leaving super early (like 5am) to get most of the drive done early in the day but Jamie had remembered that the last time we drove to Frontera (our first planned stop) we got in sometime in the early afternoon and didn't really need to leave all that early. So it was only left to find an internet solution so I could continue to work. Telcel has been advertising their G3? USB stick for a good year now so I figured the bugs would have been worked out by now and thought it would allow me to work while on the road. Unfortunately, Jamie and Jesse were never able to either get the red tape worked out (turns out they wanted a CURP as I'm not a Mexican national to register the USB) or availability worked out to purchase one, so the afternoon (like 5pm) the day before we planned to leave I headed into town to get one. (picture above is lunch stop in Escargeca Campeche) Chedraui had one but they wouldn't register or activate it, the Telcel distributor next to Chedraui did not have the stick but they could register one if they had one to sell but she located one at another distributor and we headed off there. (picture to the left is of the Tabasco/Veracruz border where there was a multikilometer backup southbound - you can see in the background)
It only took about an hour to purchase, activate and register but I FINALLY had internet and could work as we drove. I was up at 5 am next morning to get some work in before we left and we were finally on the road at 10am. We drove through many fires in southern Qunitana Roo and upon hitting the state line (QRoo and Campeche) we passed through an Aduana stop which I don't ever remember hitting before. Course it has been a few years since we've gone out that way so it is possible it isn't all that new. Unfortunately she wanted our car permit paperwork - the permit itself visibly portrayed in the correct spot on the front window was apparently not nearly good enough - and when I told her we didn't have it she had us pull over. I told her we had FM3s (though mine in in tramite) so the permit didn't really expire but she said she wanted to see the paperwork that we'd actually purchased the damn thing. If one thing I've found, patience is really key so instead of getting upset I just had Jamie pull over and I brought over his FM3 and we chatted a bit and she decided that I really did just need to go to Cancun next time I was there and get the paperwork. We were off to the next state border. (picture to right is not forest fires but "controlled" (questionable) sugarcane harvest fires - quite normal here. This completely obscured the roadway - there was NO visibility under out of the smoke.)
Work was going rather well - there were a number of dead spots where I had no internet but anytime we were at a new town I was able to either upload or download. Work was also a bit slow and I was able to keep up with no problem and I was really happy about that. Somewhere in Campeche the car's vacuum pump began going out (again, Jamie had the foresight to bring a spare as we seem to be going through vacuum pumps like air) and braking became difficult (i.e. no power assist). We had stopped in Escacega for tacos but were getting quite hungry again by the time we finally rolled into Frontera - some 12 hours after leaving home. It was a Very Long Day of travel. We quickly hit our favorite taqueria for 20 pastor tacos for $80 and giant tortas for $20 and by the time we were back at the hotel it was 10pm or so. We had a kingsize bed and a double and we got 3 in the king, one in the double and two on the floor. (to the left is the island the HIM was supposed to leave from in Veracruz. down and to the right is the truck we spotted along the road in Tabasco and them leading us, unknowingly, through the roads of Boca del Rio to Veracruz city)
I was up at 5am again next morning to work as the day before I'd used an entire month's worth of bandwidth between downloading, uploading and roaming charges and got about 2/3 of a day's work in by the time we left (again 10am). We had a shorter drive that day to Veracruz and somewhere in Tabasco state we found a black truck full of tri bikes following a little while car loaded down with more tri bikes - they both carried Campeche plates. They were doing about 120km/hr though and we watched them head out down the road. We were hoping for a 6-hour day that day and took the cuota the whole way. Expensive but definitely got us to Veracruz in good time. I wasn't sure exactly where the hotel was as Google Maps was giving very conflicting information to the hotel website. Incredibly, right when I was trying to figure out which way to go in the maze of Veracruz streets I spotted the black truck and white car and told Jamie, "FOLLOW THAT TRUCK" and enjoyed stress free meandering through the maze of Vercruz/Boca del Rio streets. We finally lost them very close to the malecon and Jamie had to completely round a glorietta in order to try again at hitting a street but it was an easy journey. (picture to the left is Jesse and Sissy racing Kilo at the beach across from our hotel)
I was so nice being on the road again and once I figured I could get a day's worth or work by getting up super early, working 4-5 hours and then working again when we got to the hotel I realized the USB stick was never a necessity in the first place.