Acclimating in Ciudad Victoria

Ciudad Victoria Travel Blog

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Soriana Grocery Store- buying pastries

11.12.08 Ciudad Victoria


Acclimation day:  We’ll spend another night here to catch our breath.  This morning we saw Rosie, the Campground Owner, again by poking around the heavily jungled building where bathrooms are hidden until her dog upstairs barked our arrival announcement.  She’s not feeling well, but did tell us to walk up the street to the mall and gave other good advice.  It is more difficult being the only ones in the campground before the busy season in January and when the campground owner not around much because it takes more effort to get informatioin.  So we just learn to slow down and acclimate.


We played chicken crossing the road to the center median where a shady dirt path goes the 5 blocks to the mall.

Soriana Grocery Store- buying pastries
  Charles got dirt in his eye on the way, which bothered him until we got back to the RV, but otherwise the walk was uneventful.  At the modern, one-story mall were Blockbuster, a lottery store where we bought a phone card, a McDonald’s, and a huge Soriana store with groceries and also clothing.  There were 3 cash machines.  One was broken, one had no Visa or signage on it (but that was the best one to use apparently), and the 3rd was Credit Suisse and we were able to extract $200, which turned out to be $200 pesos, which is less than $20 (currently $1 U.S. = $13 pesos), but on a second attempt, we were able to extract up to $3000 pesos.  Whoo-hoo!  We have heard that cash for gas is a major expense, so we may need to actually get more tomorrow.


We spent a long time in the Soriana store, as if we were on a school field trip.  We compared prices and converted them to dollars, each of us bought a pastry and figured out how to get a pan and tongs and then take the pan over to the pastry-lady  who would price and bag it for us.

Soriana Grocery Store- buying pizza
  We bought pizza by the slice.  No one there spoke any English and we relied on Jazy, our handy dictionary, and pantomime.  It was uncomfortable and difficult, but we took it slowly and we were rewarded with a good lunch in the mall dining area.


While there, a nice gringo from Pennsylvania dropped by to chat.  He is one of only a few U.S. citizens who live in CV (Ciudad Victoria).  Fascinating and we got many questions answered!  Bob and his wife have lived here for over a year now and loves the people, the weather, and the cost of living.  They rent a nice 2-bedroom apartment near the downtown area for $250 a month and need neither heat nor A/C because of the temperate climate.  Crime, he said, is practically non-existent in the area and there are very few gringos (U.S. Americans- Mexicans are North Americans too, you know) here.  In fact, he named off the few around and believed that areas like San Miguel, which have about 20,000 U.S. citizens kills the Mexican economy and prices are double for lesser service.


Bob is writing a book about moving to the area and gave us his website: and we’ll have to check it out. 


Bob explained that the kids go to school in 3 shifts depending on their grade and their parents’ work schedules.  They only go 5 hours per day, some begin as early as 7 am and some go as late as 8 pm.  They can place out of school curriculum as they study and smart kids can be ready by age 15 or so to continue in trade school or college. 


Bob also helped us with some burning questions, like:

  1. Do we tip the baggers at the grocery store?  Answer:  Yes, around $.25 to $.50 U.S. (in pecos equivalent).
  2. Many of the street light systems and signage are different, so we confirmed info we read this morning in Sanborn’s Travelog:  left turn must wait for protected green arrow before turning even if green if there are four lights on the lightbox; no right on red unless specifically signed as such, etc.  In fact, I think we missed our turn for CV yesterday in Matamoros because there is a special situation when they show an arrow going off to the left and then a u-turn.  That is an instruction to exit right to a lateral road, then stop and turn left to cross over the road you just were on, and then left again.  It is a maneuver that is helpful for trucks who cannot do a u-turn.  I think we just exited for CD Victoria and kept going without doing a “returno”.
  3. Yes, we should have followed truck or bus signage yesterday at the border- there probably was parking there.  (Big dummie!)


Bob said the water in CV is potable and they drink it all the time without getting sick.  It is a rather wealthy city, I think.  Since it is the state capital, many of the workers are government employees.


Both Sanborn’s and Bob have said that Mexico City is a big no-go for us because of the crime.  Bob thinks Michoacán north to Sonora (glad we learned our Mexican states!) is crime-ridden with drug gangs.  He said that we should not stop for anyone unless it is the Policia Federeles and you can see their police car.  Otherwise, just keep going to the next small town before you stop if they pursue you.  Hmmm.


Rosie also suggested we make a copy of my Drivers License and use that to show when stopped so that they will not keep it to insist on a bribe.  On one blog that I read, the officer demanded to see the original and so he showed it to him from behind the window, but refused to give it to him and finally just drove off rather than deliver a bribe.  We are grateful for the color-copier on board and I also made copies of our Tourist Visas and the Vehicle Permit, as well.


Then after lunch, I encouraged (bribed) the kids to break some of our $200 pesos bills by have each of them buy tic-tacs or gum, but they had to do the transaction themselves.  I think I come out even on those deals because they are really uncomfortable with the interaction, but happy to get the loot.  I take all the change!  J


Survival Spanish is what we’re learning!  Bob also told me of a website for learning Spanish: so we’ll check it out.


Bob suggested we negotiate an hour tour to see the sites of CV while we’re here, which we may do so we can avoid driving the rig into downtown.  We’ll see… I still need to research tomorrow’s route, but I think the road to Tampico is pretty straightforward.


We feel like our wings are growing and soon we’ll be flying!





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Soriana Grocery Store- buying past…
Soriana Grocery Store- buying pas…
Soriana Grocery Store- buying past…
Soriana Grocery Store- buying pas…
Soriana Grocery Store- buying pizza
Soriana Grocery Store- buying pizza
Ciudad Victoria
photo by: ekthor