America the Beautiful! And Ciao troubles

Victoria Travel Blog

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We're in AMERICA!  Could you hear me singing the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and Yankee Doodle?  I didn’t care that the people driving around me thought the woman belting out songs and nearly crying with joy was crazy either!


So today we made it just 161.5 miles from home, almost to our State Park destination (with a steak restaurant nearby) when:


Slip, slip, slip, SURGE!  The transmission seemed to go out!  We lost power but the lights on the dash, the odometer, and meters seemed fine.  The power dropped enough that I could put it in 2nd gear (3rd and 4th didn’t seem to be effective) and we limped over to the gas station. 


We were down to almost 1/8 of a tank of gas.  We filled for the first time with Premium grade gas.  We drove around the parking lot in 2nd gear.  It seemed fine. 


So we drove a few miles up the road with flashers on in regular overdrive up to Victoria, TX.  Seems fine even up to 45 mph, no trouble at all in regular Drive.  We didn’t test it faster than that.  It was dark by then and we didn’t want to be stranded.


Flashback:  At Christmas Eve dinner, I talked to a few campers there (including smart Lazy Dazy guy, Bill) and told them that I had thought I’d had transmission slips, but I think it was a bad tank of gas.  They said that was very common and to change my fuel filter when I got home.


We are at a lovely RV Park now where we are doing 4 laundry loads.  Right next door is a transmission shop, which likely is not open tomorrow.  It’s been a long day so I asked my brilliant Lazy Daze friends online for advice.  I'm sure they will help us come up with some good ways to diagnosis this.  All advice is welcome.  We're hoping it is the fuel filter, fuel pump, transmission fluid, or anything other than the transmission, that we can take care of it tomorrow, and that all will be well that ends well. 


We didn't get a lot of sleep last night.  At 4am there was such a loud beat from someone's stereo that Ned thought his heart was beating too strongly!  Ha!  Then at 5am, I saw a police car had stopped a line of trucks and cars at the station.  By 6am, when I noticed that a truck had backed to within 3 feet of our front bumper, essentially blocking us in, I was pretty well awake.  Fortunately, he moved on out at 7am when he saw us getting ready to leave.  I think he was a bit surprised that we were inside.  Confusing!


The trip to the border involved 2 police checks, but one waved us by and the other just looked inside and enjoyed looking at our map of where we'd traveled (very nice).  Both were official stops and non-intimidating.


The border town of Matamoros in Mexico is a zoo.  Even with signage, the Church's book map, and the GPS, we still had difficulty.  I recommend studying that city and routes before you attempt it in either direction.  We exited at the Veterans International Bridge, as the Church's recommend, which was the same place we entered (which made it easier).  The people were very nice and I thought it interesting that I'd initially found it so intimidating.  There did seem to be a real lack of signage though, so I was glad I knew my way around. 


At the Banjercito (bank in the Migration office), we managed to pay Ned's tourist permit $18 U.S. in pesos and then get our 10-year-vehicle permit cancelled.  If you don't return the vehicle sticker when you leave Mexico, and then you sell the vehicle, you cannot return to Mexico during that timeframe with a different vehicle unless you pay sales tax on the first vehicle (because they then assume you sold the vehicle in Mexico).  Since you can only import one vehicle with a title that must be in your exact name, blah, blah, then it is best to play it safe and just turn in the sticker.  You can buy another $40 or whatever vehicle permit again when you return. 


I have heard horror stories of people having to return to the U.S. to get the sold vehicle, take it back to the Mexican border to return their sticker, then take the sold vehicle back to the States before they could enter Mexico with their new vehicle.  So although the helpful Banjercito agent tried to discourage me from cancelling it because the sticker was valid for 10-years, I persisted and eventually they removed the sticker for me and printed a receipt.  


We paid a final toll out of Mexico of 48 pesos as we drove onto the Americas Bridge.  We almost made it to the halfway point before traffic was stopped.  It was over an hour before we crawled to the front of the line.  Oversized vehicles have to go in the right lane for cars, and we did not follow the separate exit to the right for Autobuses and Trucks, as that looked like a complicated inspection process.  We also did not go into the Left "multi-modal" lane that zipped along, which was a good move because they said they send people back to the end of the line if they do that without the paid pass!  It's not the passcard, it's like the Nexas or Servas pass or something like that which you get by applying.


Ciao overheated on the bridge, I guess because we had the AC on and were just crawling along every few minutes.  I turned on the heat and vent, turned off the AC, and used neutral more and that quickly brought down the temperature.  I didn't realize that could happen! 


Anyway, it was a quick passport check and they asked us to head down to the inspection area, so they could inspect for fruits, vegetables, and meats (they got some luncheon ham).  It was a little odd because they seemed so nice, respectful, and almost apologetic in the inspection.  It was like a group of business executives had been asked to play Inspector for the day.  Quite refreshing!


We stopped to buy gas after crossing the border and I saw two TX State Police there.  Since we still had two cold Cokes that we'd bought to provide if needed for police bribes south of the border, I took them over.  Thank you, I said, for being honorable, trust-worthy police officers.  One officer said that unfortunately Mexican police make about $400 per month.  While sad indeed, use of intimidation to seek alternate funding is not helpful to anyone, and certainly not tourism for such a wonderful country.  Again, I'm so glad to live in America and so hopeful that our neighbors to the south can work out that damaging police situation.  We also talked about how lovely the people and the countries were, as well.


Then we headed up to Victoria, which took about 5 hours. Lord willing, we’ll make it home soon. In the meantime, we’re thrilled to have potable water, honorable police officers, and English-speaking transactions.  That is not to say that we didn’t adore the lovely countries we visited.  We just really appreciate our home country now. 



Tessa, back in Texas (Yes!)

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