"If I'd learned one thing from traveling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don't talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens."
- Alex Garland, The Beach
We have been trying to go to the Mexico's Copper Canyon for some time with no success.
In doing research we came up with a lot of trip options, but the only one that made sense in terms of timing was one run out of McAllen, Texas by Sanborn Tours who I have become to think of as "The Reluctant Tour Company". They have been running bus tours into Mexico for years and do a good job of it. They are, unfortunately, at the point in life of wanting to wind down and sell their business. This is not the best timing with a declining economy and unsettled times affecting travel in general and travel into Mexico specifically.
Trying to book a tour with them was worthy of an MBA case study of a business in decline. In September 2008 we tried to book the January 2009 tour shown on their web site. We were allowed to book, but they would not take any money or credit card information until the month of the trip (boy, their accountant had sure not been in the Dr. Apgood lecture on cash flow cycles that I had). By the month of the trip we had experienced the transmission destruction on our truck and the Canadian dollar had gone into relapse. We opted out of the trip. If we had been allowed to prepay we probably would have gone.
In August 2009 I sent an e-mail with inquiries. Never answered. In September 2009 we again tried to book by phone. This time for January 2010. "Too soon to tell if we will run that again." Also the same accounting rules. We agreed to check back in November. We exchanged enough Canadian dollars to cover the trip so exchange rates would not be an issue.
Kept checking the web site. No 2010 tours listed there. Found an ad in a Rio Grande Valley newspaper for winter Texans. It showed a January 20th tour in 2010 by Sanborn. On a day off in November we drove to the building in McAllen shown on the Sanborn Tours web site at the address listed. We arrived just before lunch time. After dashing through a thunderstorm downpour and six inches of water to the front door found out the tour company was not in the front, but the insurance division was and that the space between them was now leased to a bank. We needed to go outside and around the building to get back to the tour company offices. The insurance person offered to phone and check to see if anybody was there. There wasn't. We all concluded that they must have gone for lunch a bit early. So we took one of last year's tour brochures from the rack, scurried to the truck and drove off through the water flooded streets to lunch and some other errands.
When we came back we parked at the back of the building and looked at the plain door next to the electrical boxes and phoned the number. It was answered. Nope. They didn't use the office. Used the internet and phones now. Too soon to know if the January tour would happen. "Call after Christmas."
After our heroic Boxing Day return from Canada (see here) we called on the 29th. "I'm in the grocery line!" in an offended tone. "Wouldn't know anything until next week." ..... "It's still advent" (or something similar).. "in Mexico." "Call back next week." I called on January 5th. Still too soon to know, but "looking promising".
On Friday, January 8th, we went to the first day of the annual travel show at the McAllen Convention Center. We filled several shopping bags with brochures and information. I asked every booth that had bus tours into Mexico about their Copper Canyon options. Nobody had anything in January. A few had something in March. Finally I stopped at the Durango booth. There was a stack of Sanborn fliers. Sitting there talking to a Durango tourist bureau rep was a person who claimed to be our tour guide and who assured me the tour was definitely a go.
When we got home I called the phone number to give the credit card info and make sure we got our discount for already having a tourist travel card for Mexico and to let them know what pick-up point we would be using on the 20th. "I'm not where I can write down that information. Call me Monday, but no later than Tuesday." I explained we would be out of the country until possibly late on Wednesday the 13th. "Well, okay, but call me first thing on Thursday."
We got back midday on the 13th from doing a couple of days volunteer work in the interior of Mexico. The moment the van stopped I called Sanborn Tours. I learned the tour had been canceled. The core group of participants had backed out due to their fears after the recent drug related murders in Chihuahua. The person I had been dealing with offered to check for alternatives and to help as much as he could. I called him the next day and took some notes of his advice. Also the next day we printed out some pages from the Internet, bought a guide book for Mexico, checked out the McAllen bus station, and bought ejecutivo (executive class) bus tickets from Monterrey to Mazatlan for Friday.
On Friday we showed up at the bus station early (thanks for the ride, Dave) and bought open return tickets to Monterrey (senior rates are half price for that bus, but if you buy the tickets in Mexico they only give the discount to Mexican seniors) and left the country for nine days of adventure.
Our self guided tour took us to many of the same places, but we stayed longer at a few and skipped or cut short a couple of the others. I think we may have missed a couple of things, but overall saw more and enjoyed traveling at our own pace and the flexibility to act on our mood and the circumstances. Spent a lot less money too.
January 16th (edited) e-mail to friends and family:
We left McAllen yesterday morning on the 7:15 bus to Monterey. Changed buses in Reynosa. You just move to the next bus as does your luggage. Uneventful ride on decent buses.
In Monterrey we checked our bags with a storage room and grabbed a cab downtown to wander around the mega plaza. Headed back to bus depot to find that the bus had been cancelled because of snow in the mountains between here and the coast. Booked a bus for the next day and went back downtown.
Haggled for a good price for a room at a Howard Johnson`s (about $60 a night w/ breakfast vs. the $80 he quoted at first) then we went and did some more sight seeing and had a fairly early night.
Today we walked to the other end of the mega plaza and then walked the 2.5 km length of the Paseo Santa Lucia (canal walk - nicer than San Antonio`s). We didn't want to wait for the boats to start running. Then we walked beyond that to the site of the old foundry and then it was noon so we grabbed a cab back to the hotel and negotiated for a 2 o'clock checkout.`Then we walked the main street further than we had last night and had lunch at the hotel buffet.
So now we are back here at the bus depot waiting to catch the overnight bus to Mazatlan. It leaves at 4 and arrives 8 tomorrow morning which is with the time change seventeen hour ride. There are twenty-four seats. There are two on one side of the aisle and one on the other so there is supposed to be enough room to really recline and actually sleep. There are curtains on the window so if the roads bother you you can`t see them. Yesterday`s bus was first class (8 rows, 4 seats per row) this is ejecutivo (executive) class also known as as lujos (luxury).
Mom & Dad/Paul & Juanita
Monterrey to Mazatlan
January 17th e-mail to friends and family:
Hope Ezekial had a Happy Birthday and everyone´s travels went/go well
Survived our 17 hour bus ride including six hours of mountain roads as narrow and as winding as the worst the Sechelt Peninsula ever had. Pavement was okay. If bus and semi met at turns one had to stop and wait. Sometimes both would have to back and fill to get past each other. Vegetation in those mountains very much like BC as well.
Haggled between two beach hotels and ended up with suite overlooking beach with separate bedroom and curved balcony for $80/ night. Plaza Marina, I think. Going to stay here three nights before heading up coast to Los Mochis or El Fuerte as whim moves. Then we will take railroad up Copper Canyon from whichever one we stay at. Then we decide whether we come back down railroad and repeat trip over mountains by bus or stay on other side and do some other exploring there.
Love Mom & Dad / Paul & Juanita
Note: When one boards a luxury bus there is a cart at the door. You chose a bottle of pop or water and they give you a bag. In the bag is a sandwich and a bag of chips of some sort. Plus, on this bus there was a box like a playing card box. It contained a set of earbuds for the sound for the movie. The sandwich bag was factory sealed and contained a white bread sandwich with a slice of ham a slice of processed cheese a jalapeno pepper and mayonnaise. We dug out the pepper and ate. The ear phone connection in my seat's arm rest didn't work. I watched the dubbed movies in mime and listened to my MP3 player. When a Spanish sub-titled movie came on I was able to follow that except where people were arguing and the text came at me too fast to read with comprehension. English would have been okay, but it was way too fast for me to keep up with in Spanish. Juanita listened to the sub-titled movie for a while, but quit when the language got too bad. The Spanish sub-titles cleaned up the` language from an R to a PG-13. (basically puts in "bad words" for the outrageous English).
Overall on our travels the buses and bus terminal were better run than Air Canada and the Calgary airport. Saw one metal detector on way into a luxury waiting room. All the respectable people walked around it. The guard made one scruffy drunk go through it while we were there.
In Mazatlan we did many of the tourist things, I would say all but we didn't try para-sailing behind a speed boat.
Took a few days to sort out bus routes and types, but we managed to get around reasonably well without resorting to the pulmonias too often. A pulmonia (literally pneumonia) is an open golf cart type of taxi which is a Mazatlan fixture. An over priced one at that.
One time while we were still getting our bearings we caught a bus back from the Soriana's super market and started walking along the sidewalk next to the beach. It seemed that we should be getting closer, but each time we rounded a head land there was another beach. Finally figured out that we had started half a block south of our hotel and had not recognized it from that angle and just kept walking further south. It did mean that a few days later we knew just where to go to walk to the local YWAM base and take a tour and learn from their director what they had been up to and where they are headed with their ministry.
We went up the beach to the El Cid resort a few times to try to hook up with Rebekah's mother-in-law, Julie, who was in town for a wedding, but ended up with leaving a voice mail.
Did some long walks on the beach, and toured the market and the archeological museum and had a variety of gastronomic treats mostly at places not recommended by the Frommer's guide. Not that it recommended not to eat in those places, it is just that the places they did recommend as bargains do not stay bargains once they realize they have been recommended. They run with the recommendation and their running takes their prices right off the bargain playing field.
We never quite got the routes of the cheaper white buses the locals use totally figured out, but they were cheap adventures and the locals seemed pleased a tourist would associate with their humble conveyances. One day while we were figuring out the green (tourist) bus we ended up at the end of the line south of town near the old light house. We had only been on the bus for a few blocks when we got there but the bus pulled into the front of the line and the driver told us to get off and motioned to the back of the line of buses. We got to the back bus, but it was sealed up tight and we tried moving up the line to another bus with a driver sitting in it, but they sent us back and made motions to slap on the door. We did and got an angry "five minutes" answer from within the darkened interior of the bus. Eventually the bus door opened. We got on board and we tried to use the transfers but the new driver was having none of it and made us pay again. On the bus with him was a young woman and her toddler. It seemed like we had interrupted something. The bus driver drove as slowly as possible for as long as possible as revenge for our interference, and to carry on chatting up his friend, but as more people got on board he had to speed up to normal. We got off at home and went and rushed to buy dinner and then settled in to watch the sunset from our balcony as we ate.
The next day we caught the green tourist bus and got the same driver.
He looked extremely unhappy to see us again. We took the bus to the north end of the line and he ordered us off. We walked from the street down a road to the beach (beaches are all public access in Mexico) and walked on the beach for some ways visiting with a beach vendor that had been on the same bus. He pointed out all the hotels and what they were called and who owned them and which were all inclusive and how outrageously some charged for beer. We walked a mile or so and stopped and checked out an eco time share at El Rancho, before finding our way back to the street. It had been long enough the bus driver had been around his circuit once more. We tried to flag him down, but he just grinned evilly and drove past at full speed.
We caught the next white one coming by and after a while got off to check El Cid for Julie and then grabbed a pulmonia to a lunch spot mentioned in the guide and walked back half a block to a much better restaurant with a much better lunch special. After that we waddled down a few blocks to the hotel that the bus tour uses and walked through the lobby and out onto the beach where we visited with tourists and vendors and then sat in their chairs under a palapa on the beach and read our books for a few hours before heading home again to catch a sunset from the balcony before walking to a local cafe for liquados made with different fruits.
While visiting on the beach we learned that parasailing prices are lower on some days than others. They go up on days when the cruise ships dock at the south end of town. One morning we saw three bus loads of somewhat bewildered looking tourists being unloaded and herded onto one of the poorest quality beaches in the area. I think they were from the cruise ship that was in town that day. I quietly made sheep noises to Juanita and we rejoiced that we were not on a bus tour.
We got up early and grabbed a taxi to the bus depot and caught the next available bus to Los Mochis from Mazatlan. The bus was a first class bus in reasonable shape, but somewhat short of a luxury bus. Most things worked. The bubbles from the bottom of the toilet in the men's room indicated a tendency to blowback when flushed. Stand well back when pushing the flush button was a good tactic to avoid an unwanted bidet cycle. I guess the waste tank had a venting problem.
The bus ride was four and a half hours with stops. We stopped at a few towns to pick up and drop off passengers and stopped at toll booths and an agricultural inspection station. At that the inspector came aboard and looked around and passengers could get off to quickly grab bagged junk food or soft drinks. At one toll booth a vendor with a Coleman cooler got on board and worked the aisle for a while selling hot packages of tacos. Then the bus stopped and he got off.
When we arrived in Los Mochis we quickly caught a cab to the travel agency in the lobby of the Santa Anita Hotel in hope of catching them before they broke for siesta. As the cab pulled up to the curb the bell captain grabbed our bags and took them to the registration desk. Juanita stayed in the lobby to watch the bags while I checked out the travel agent. Fortunately the hours in the Frommer's guide were not quite accurate so the agent was open. I went inside and bought two tickets for Creel on the Chepe train leaving the next morning from Los Mochis. I then went and haggled with the desk about a room for the night. Typical railroad hotel - over-priced and unwilling to negotiate. Wanted something like 1100 pesos. Took our bags and hit the street walking half a block to a cab stand. The cab asked where we wanted to go. I said we were looking for a hotel room, a cheap and clean one. He suggested the Hotel Fenix (like the bird) a block over and we agreed that he (Julio) would meet us there the next morning at five am to take us to the train terminal. We walked to the Hotel Fenix and got a wonderful, spotless, newly-remodeled room for 385 pesos. It was all done in marble tiles and the shower was about a four-person chrome, plate glass and marble affair.
There was no window in the room, but that was okay at that price and for just one night.
We walked around town a bit and found an internet cafe and a nice little family-run restaurant. We bought some snack stuff from a grocery store and some tangerines from a street vendor then headed home to bed and TV with American programs subtitled in Spanish.
We were in the lobby to check out before five the next morning and Julio was waiting.
Copper Canyon Train Ride
We arrived at the train station in lots of time before they opened the doors to the platform. We had time to buy and consume a couple of cups of cafe leche and a sweet roll while sitting in the waiting room.
Once we boarded the train we realized that the seats we had were more wall than window seats and I got off to talk to the conductor. He said we'd handle it while rolling. Once we were rolling we looked around and chose the two empty seats right behind our assigned seats and moved to them and their full window. When the conductor came by he got out his eraser and changed his seating plan. That solved that! Part of the reason we chose to get on the train at its western terminus was to be able to sort out seating. The other was the one hour bus ride from Los Mochis to El Fuerte. Well, it would be a one hour bus ride if the second class bus didn't stop every few miles. It reportedly takes four hours to cover the distance. Not my idea of a good choice when you can sit on the train. Albeit El Fuerte as a town is said to have much more character than the agricultural hub of Los Mochis. And one doesn't have to get up so early as at Los Mochis. Nevertheless we had chosen and were happy with our choice.
When the dining car opened we went for a luxurious, sumptuous full-breakfast served on real plates by a real waiter. Not for the financially faint hearted. I think I used less cash to buy my first revenue property. It was worth it and so was the property investment, come to think of it.
Then back to the car to settle for the dawn ride through the fields of crops and their pickers.
At El Fuerte a tour group boarded the train and filled in the seats in front of us. It was like being swarmed by grackles. A few decades of minutes later they settled down and eventually it was quite pleasant to have them around.
An hour after that we crossed the longest bridge on the railway and then got into the scenic country that we were there to see.
You can read any manner of descriptions on the internet and in guide books so you don't need my regurgitation of their info, but 'the' Copper Canyon is more than one canyon. Together they are bigger than the Grand Canyon of the United States and you are not going to see anything but a little of them from the train. That said we thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
Mostly I hung on in the space between two cars and took pictures out of the open window and Juanita hung out in the space one car back. We returned to our seats occasionally, but mostly we let the grackles guard our stuff and stood between cars.
Taking pictures can cause regrets of the-one-that-got-away variety. One sight that Juanita saw and says she is sorry not to have caught with camera was the two guys sleeping in a small space in the structure of a car on a passing freight train.
On the stop before Divisadero a number of Tarahumara Indian women arrived and sold their baskets through the open windows of the train. I fiercely bargained in the limited time available and got four, small 30 peso baskets for 100 pesos. Probably means that I only overpaid by factor 2.5 rather than 3. Oh well, I received a story for my pesos as well and as Seth Godin says "all marketers are liars tell stories".
As we visited with the tour guide he asked what hotel we planned to stay at in Creel. I gave him the name of the cheap one from the Frommer's guide and he wrinkled his nose and gave me his card. On its back were listed the hotels they use. The one for Creel was Cabanas Bertie. He gave me the owner's name and said he would be at the train station.
At Divisedero the train stops for 20 minutes. When you get off the train they keep saying "fifteen minutes". As I got off I said "see you in half an hour." The conductor's response, "see you tomorrow". We all rushed down the stairs to the look out and furiously snapped pictures of the canyons and buildings and the indian women weaving baskets. When the train whistle blew I started jogging up the stairs. The conductor looked alarmed and urged me to "take my time". He couldn't see that much mass in motion without worrying about cardiac arrest, I imagine.
As we rode the train the last few miles to Creel where we be getting off we could see snow in the shadows on the hills and ice in the culverts under the railroad. We already knew that rain was forecast for the next day. Looked like it was going to be a cold and stormy night.
The train stopped and we dove for the opening with our bags and found ourselves crushed in a mob of guides and drivers of hotel shuttles. ("shuttle". That is to laugh. Seldom does a word communicate so poorly the connection between the image and the reality, but I digress.) Two guides assured us they would take us to Cabanas Berti at no cost. I interrogated them at length before getting in their beat up unmarked van. They had a broken person (I do not know what the correct term is anymore and I am afraid to call somebody retarded so I won't) with them. He got in the van with us. The van driver said that he usually met the trains with them and helped with luggage.
We went to Cabanas Berti. There was no sign of anybody there. No office and no staff. Guides said they had another hotel that was just as clean and same price but also included breakfast. We went to this "hotel" which turned out to be owned by the guides cousin. As we drove there the guide pointed out some alternatives and their prices. The broken person indicated in his crude speech that Cabana Berti was better than the one we were going to. The forecourt (what a nice word for such a dismal expanse) was of dirt, gravel and broken random pieces of masonry and concrete somewhat leveled. We checked out the two rooms. One had one large bed and the other had two doubles. 250 pesos a night. With breakfast. Heating by geriatric electric space heater plugged into a wall outlet. We stood by the van and debated. Sent Juanita to look. No way she was going to make this no-win decision. Broken person tried to contribute to debate in favor of Cabana Berti. Guide told him off in words they wouldn't teach you in missionary language school. Broken person got exiled from van. He still ran along behind and kept catching up with our quest and being helpful to the guides annoyance.
We went to try to see Cabanas Berti again stopping at a nice little hotel on the way there. 250 pesos a night with no breakfast. Rooms were okay. Not as scary as the cousin's rooms, but the rooms had wall mounted propane heaters as sole source of heat. Big warning signs about not sleeping with the heater on and the risks of carbon dioxide. I had visions of trying to trade off asphyxia with hypothermia and getting up every hour through the night to accomplish the trade-off. Still nobody at Cabanas Berti. Back to casa de primo (cousin's house). Make a deal. Room with big bed. Breakfast at 8:30. Guides will come at 9 to take us on a "3 hour tour" of rocks and waterfall. Where have I heard that phrase before?
We negotiate a ride with one of the guides driving us to the local YWAM base and back in the cousin's SUV. We go to the local YWAM base and visit with the director and his wife and daughter briefly while the guide waits. They have an exciting ministry that matches the needs of the local indians very well. Then it is back to town to be dropped at a restaurant across from Cabanas Berti. Good meal then a fruitless search through the blustery night for an internet cafe. We get a line on one, but decide it is too far to walk there and back in the bitterly cold wind and return to hotel scary to turn on the heater and huddle under the four wool blankets and the comforter. I got warm enough to get undressed. Juanita needed a few additional layers of clothing to achieve warmth. We watched the single channel with its Mexican soap opera and went to sleep about 8.
I woke up about 2:30 having slept out as much as I could with the high winds banging things about outside. I lay there with visions of Sweeney Todd and Deliverance and trying to MBA analyze what would it profit a guide to off two old Canadians and how unpleasant it would be to bang around the back roads to go stand in the wind and the rain to look at rocks and a waterfall. When Juanita woke we quickly reached consensus - This is cold not fun. We have seen rocks and water falls before and don't think these are worth the pain and boy those guys are creepy - and started packing.
I had a hot shower. Something worked! But not everything, of course. The water probably drained away by the time we left town. I don't take long to dress in the cold room which is still cold despite the heater on max all night.
We sneak through pre-dawn wind blown drizzle like refugees with bags back to train station and across tracks to where there are a couple of buses parked. Find a little shop that sells tickets. Buy two to Chihuahua. Bus driver uses chair to crawl in window since door doesn't open from outside.
Creel to Chihuahua, Chihuahua
We huddled in the small shop waiting to board the Noroeste bus from Creel. A competitor's bus drove by, but the person behind the counter said that one took longer to get to Chihuahua since it made more stops in small towns. Since I had seen the buses as we scurried across town, but couldn't see any place open to buy a ticket it was academic and I took her words at face value.
The bus we were to go on had been shutdown and closed up, but a few minutes after the quoted time for departure the driver showed up again, struggled with the door and then came back in to the shop to borrow a chair to stand on to crawl through the window by the drivers seat. He invited us aboard. I tried to give him the luggage to go in the baggage compartment, but he directed us aboard with our luggage. We piled it on the seats across the aisle from the ones we sat in.
Eventually we rolled. As we passed through Creel I caught a glimpse of the hotel we had planned to stay at. Not scary, but pretty grim. I think we did better. The bus rolled through some pretty steep and winding paved road through vegetation and geological features similar to Merrit, BC and parts of the Okanagan. In a couple of hours we came to a wide open dry plains area and the highway changed to freeway. As we continued we started seeing more and more agriculture and then orchards and very neat farms and towns. This is Mennonite country settled by Mennonite farmers who came from Canada in the 1920's. I am sure there are blood relatives here of people we know.
The bus stopped in Cuauhatemoc, the main town of the area, and the driver went away for a few minutes. The bus had been getting kinda ripe from the latrine smell from the rear restrooms. I figured, based on the schedule and with two buses at each end they each have time for one and a half round trips per day and each ends up in Chihuahua, Chihuahua every second night for servicing and tank dumping. Our bus would have been percolating overnight in Creel. Can't imagine how it fairs in the summers. Juanita overcame the smell issues and went to try the ladies room out of desperation. She said the toilet flush function didn't quite work. That was consistent with the doors, the seat recliners and several other things on board. I went to check out the men's room. The light didn't work. If you closed the door you would be in total darkness. Between the smell and the aversion to working by braille in unknown surrounding I decided I was fine. Things could wait.
When the bus got to Chihuahua people started getting off at different random spots. The bus driver asked where we wanted off. I said we were going to the main bus depot. He said he could drop us in front of it. I said that would be fine. He drove us out toward the airport and pointed to the bus depot on the other side of the highway and then did a u-turn at the next intersection and dropped us at the curb a few hundred yards from the doors of the bus depot and drove off back into the city.
We walked up the driveway and across the parking lot and went inside the depot to a counter for the line that the guide book said had ejecutivos. The girl tried to sell us a ticket for a one o'clock bus leaving in about two hours for Monterrey. Juanita had the sense to realize when the computer screen came up for our seat selection that they may have called it ejectivo, but the seats were two plus two, not one plus two. That was a pretty long run in a first class bus and we didn't want to end up arriving in Monterrey in the middle of the night either. Once that got sorted out we bought tickets for a luxury bus leaving at 8 pm, and asked where we could store our luggage securely. She pointed to a room far across the terminal. When we got there it was labelled correctly, but it had been chained off and was not being used. I talked to the guard of the luxury waiting room and he stored our bags in his little room.
We grabbed a few cab rides, ate some lunch, went to the Museum of the Revolution (Pancho Villa's house. Displays include 1922 Dodge c/w bullet holes from his assassination) and grabbed another cab back to the bus depot and settled in to wait for our bus.
Chihuahua to Monterrey to Reynosa to McAllen
As we boarded the bus we received our bottle of water each and a bag with a package of cookies and a small bag of jalapeno potato chips. We got settled in our seats and rescued Juanita's seat belt from the bowels of the seat where it had retracted. Any time she took it off to use the rest room she tied the end around the seat arm to keep from going back into hiding.
Many years ago we took a cruise. It had the most wonderful food in the world and made me indifferent to restaurants for years after. On that cruise I noticed some old guy pushing the food around the plate and muttering "this stuff is too rich for me." I have become that old guy at least with respect to spicy food. A sample nibble of a jalapeno potato chip and I gave the bag to Juanita, ate my cookies, reclined my seat, wrapped my jacket around me and half watched the movie until I went to sleep only waking briefly for a stop at Torreon in the middle of the night until I woke up an hour or two out of Monterrey.
In Monterrey we traded in our return halves of the tickets from the McAllen to Monterrey and back. They are good for six months. If you buy them in the states they are half price for seniors. If you buy them in Mexico they are half price for Mexican seniors. This meant that by buying return tickets the return trip was essentially free.
Juanita stood with our luggage and I went in search of coffee and pastries and an internet cafe to check e-mail. Internet cafe was closed, but I returned with the other and then it was time to go looking for our bus. The bus ride to Reynosa was uneventful and after stopping at the Reynosa terminal the same bus carried across the border where we got off and went through customs and immigration on foot. Then we boarded the bus and rode to the McAllen bus terminal.
I went across the street from the terminal and changed most of our pesos back into US dollars. Got a quote from a cab driver of $25 ("or maybe $30") and we rode home. I think she would have charged us $30 even if I hadn't objected to her chatting on the cell phone as she drove, but we'll never know. Will we?
Ah, it's good to be home. Turn on the water connection. turn on the water heater, check the e-mail, have a shower start thinking about what to do tomorrow.