Ciudad Victoria to Cerra Azul

TAMPICO Travel Blog

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Nov. 13, 2008 C. Victoria to Cerra Azul


Today was a driving day- 9 hours!  We made it all the way from Ciudad Victoria to south of Tampico.


Left CV at 9:30 am (just after 3 Canadian RV’s heading North).  Followed Rosie’s excellent printed English directions.  First stopped at Pemex for first gas in Mexico.  Visa payent was okay.  Went Hwy 70 toward La Sota de Maria and then South on new Bypass (free) Road so didn’t have to take Hwy 85 (curvy, mountainous and dangerous road).  Bypass was a terrific, new road.

Rough road around Tampico Bypass
  Saw Cielo Cloud Forest National Reserve off in the distance with the clouds covering the mountaintops. 


We connected with Hwy 83 to go to Tampica, a very unappealing, challenging, dirty city with aggressive traffic, peddlers and smog -even on the outskirts.  At intersections, people selling all sorts of food items, kids had squeegees cleaning windshields for tips (not as aggressive as in Matamoros fortunately), and the streetlights were really hard to see across busy intersections (there’s nothing overhead, just on the corner).  The streets have no lines painted on them and while I think they were paved, are so dirty and unmarked that they appear to be dirt. Police were on foot in the intersections and appeared to be ticketing cars or blocking traffic for students to dart across after school (no crosswalks), etc.  It was a riot of overwhelming activity!  I was in high-stress mode driving through that- it was really scary!


Meanwhile, Charles was reading Harry Potter to Lia (after their schoolwork was done) and they seemed oblivious to the action.

Busy street through small towns
  They finished Book 3 today.


Jazy, however, was promised dinner if she could help navigate the Church’s version of the Tampico Bypass.  RV’s get ticketed going through town and Tampico and Veracruz are the two cities (and Mexico City) that we are advised to bypass.  It was a long ordeal getting around Tampico, but we were grateful for the bypass.  Missed the new right exit “To Tuxpam” that is now a flyover off Hwy 70 at 11.4 miles and did 2 returnos (u-turns) to get on it.  There is no way, without the explicit Church’s directions, that you would have any clue how to drive that bypass.  Every single RV’er we’ve met on this trip has their book, affectionately called “the Bible.”


The lower part of the bypass the road was a horrible road thru tiny towns with bikers, kids, walkers and huge, double-trailer trucks jockeying over torn-up roads with construction and enormous potholes.

Condodo Western Auto Motel & RV park. Yes, that field is the RV park.
  We weren’t sure we could clear the huge paved ruts in the sunken road in places, but we did.  Finally, we made it to the huge hill to the left, up out of Tampico.  We felt victorious and repeated our motto:  “That which doesn’t destroy us, makes us stronger.”


The road continuing south (Hwy 180) was awful in some places, but brand new for much of it and very nice.  It was either terrible or terrific, but we didn’t complain ��" we can handle some rough roads as we just slow down.  I think our Alaska road experience means we’re more immune to bumpy, potholed roads.   We went through many small towns, over dozens of topes.  There are many houses and structures clustered all together for a village, and then lots of open space for miles around it. 


We saw armed military men in camouflage waving traffic over some tire-tread topes- not sure what they were looking for.  Passed a Federale swat team with 3 vehicles and probably 20 men dressed in black gear with helmets and guns.  Then we saw a Federale car with lights on coming toward us and it sped by with a few guys with guns sitting in the SUV’s rear door windows.  But we missed where the action was directed and none of the locals appeared alarmed in any way.


Just south of all this activity of Cerra Azul, we thought of overnighting at the Pemex Station, but it was too dirty, crowded and busy, so we continued 5 miles to the campground at the Condado Western Auto Hotel and RV Park.  We missed the RV park entrance, but could drive around the building.  We got one of several sites with electric and sewer hookups for 150 pesos.  It wasn’t until many hours later that I figured out what the Church’s book had meant when the said the hotel clientele seemed to be all male who stayed for a short while.  Naïve?  Anyway, the RV grassy area had beautiful trees and while close to the highway, was otherwise peaceful.  Unfortunately the pool was still in a “build” or “repair” condition and we couldn’t use it.  The sewer hoses were so high that gravity could not work- a nice concept, but it required a little work to caterpillar the hoses repeatedly.


At the campground, we did enjoy meeting Hymie and Barbara, in a VW bus from Florida, who are fulltiming and headed to Panama eventually.  They bought a copy of “99 Days to Panama” for their adventures. 


My bank called my cell phone today to confirm charges in Mexico and I punched in numbers to confirm them.  I had called the bank before I left and told them where I was headed, but I was glad to confirm before they blocked my card (as they had in Alaska). 


On three occasions we passed people standing by topes and holding shovels - they’d apparently taken out the tope or filled a pothole and were now collecting tips.


Charles’ eye is doing better, but an antihistamine helped considerably.


Weather has been hot during the day, but nice at night.  The RV is very hot until the fans pull in cool air.  Mosquitos are fierce.


Things we’ve noticed:

We’ve seen few Mexican women driving at all.  There are no women working in outdoor jobs, such as road construction or driving trucks.


People seem nice enough.  Women walking near the road don’t look very happy- they don’t look up and appear somewhat grim.  Perhaps it is the fact that they are beside the roadway and not among their friends which results in protective countenances.


Probably half of the people we wave to do wave back.  Others (mostly men) sort of glare- women don’t look out enough to notice.


This morning, as we were leaving Ciudad Victoria, we saw a motorcyclist had stopped and was helping an old man cross the road safely- very nice!


We see lots of donkeys, cattle, horses tied near the road.  Lia saw a turkey and goat on ropes.


We haven’t had enough nerve to stop at a restaurant yet, since we feel so conspicuous and rusty on the Spanish.  Working on our Espanol- Jazy is a big help.


Sending FindMeSpot messages to Ned so he can track us.  We have had no internet at all and haven’t found a payphone, although we did buy a phone card.  Just need to find a phone now. 

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Rough road around Tampico Bypass
Rough road around Tampico Bypass
Busy street through small towns
Busy street through small towns
Condodo Western Auto Motel & RV pa…
Condodo Western Auto Motel & RV p…
photo by: Nair2011