Category Archives: car registration in Mexico


I love the pointillistic effect of a Blackberry in poor light!

We have been here in Mexico off and on for over a year, and I thought a general examination might be in order.
I am happy here. There is really nothing I miss about California life., with the exception of a few wonderful people, and hot water. The bathing water that the family here calls “calientita” is really not even warmer than my skin.
My job as a high school choral teacher was stressful. Each year when I began the year I wished I was not aware of how much hard work was ahead of me. My work here is enjoyable. I like caring for our house. I never considered myself a good housekeeper, but the daily sweeping and mopping of floors is not unpleasant. The frequency means that there really isn’t a lot of dirt. It’s quick and everything smells good afterwards. I’m trying to enjoy dusting as well.
I still don’t cook here – Chon’s sister does that. Since I like to cook, that has been a minus, but still, there is a definite ease of life when you only have to heat up food when it’s dinner time. After we return from Los Angeles we are going to refresh the kitchen with new tile floors and paint, and we intend to do our own cooking when that is finished; we are sending the small stove (with NO oven) to Chon’s sister’s house, and starting with our own electric oven that has been languishing in the patio (it’s 220 v, and, well, nobody has 220 here) or a new gas stove /oven. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. In a check-up do you get to include future plans?
I don’t have many friends, but I think that might change when I am more fluent in Spanish. And about that – it is slowly becoming more easy to have conversations, although I have occasional brain farts when I can’t remember very common words. Maybe that will never change – happens in English, too!
Since inquiring minds want to know, food and household items are LOTS lower in price than in the US. Medicines are rather expensive, but the doctor care I have experienced is efficient,excdellent, and inexpensive. For most people here, it seems expensive, but compared to the California health care I am familiar with, it’s very low-cost. A doctor’s visit is less than $40. A brief, efficient, and very state-of-the-art hospital visit for Chon’s sister to remove gall-stones was completed in about three hours, and cost about $1,500. Really.
Food/groceries are good, and inexpensive.
Mattresses cost about a third of what they cost in the US.

We harvested our fields last month, and made about a 50% return on our investment in seed, tractor work, and labor, and we are opening a savings account to keep the money we made for next year’s farming expenses (it costs a lot to plant and fertilize).
Our garden was a success, but will be much better next year. We were casual in our seeding, and the result was overcrowding. We got a great harvest of zucchini (and lots and lots memorable meals with zucchini flowers). The poblano chile plants, now freed from the shade of the sprawling tomato plants, have now set on tiny chiles. if we don’t get a killing frost, who knows! Chiles in January?
Here in central Mexico the weather is temperate. That doesn’t mean that it is warm all the time. Lately it has been quite chilly, with temperatures dipping well into the 30’s some nights. When we brought clothing here, I was told to bring sweaters. Now in December, I’m glad that I did.
We created some space – a new bedroom and bathroom for Chon’s mother (the old bath is outdoors and down a step, making it difficult for her to navigate). 
We have a new studio for practice and recording. And a stage on top of our garage, for performances. (Years ago we began a tradition of performing for the town. Come see us on New Year’s Eve!)

Does he look like a guitar god?


We finally got the registration papers for our large truck. We use it mostly for band equipment. It took months to get this task done.  There are a bewildering number of laws and rules about importing  cars to Mexico. The truck qualified, but it evidently had some customization that was difficult to explain, or get cleared, or – something. Now, though, it is legal, and has Mexican license plates. 
We have driven many, many miles without trouble. When you cross state lines, however, you may well be stopped by federales, local police, or soldiers. We had an unpleasant experience in Nayarit when federales inspected our PT Cruiser and announced that they had found a marijuana seed in the back. They were insulting and a little scary while they kept us there for about half an hour. They pretended to be insulted when Chon offered to pay them for their trouble, but one of them took some large bills from the travel money we had with us.
Another time when we were stopped by some troops the young soldiers were very happy to accept a mordida although they took it hurriedly so that their superior officer did not see them; probably they didn’t want to share!
Driving here is – different. In general, the rules and laws are the same as the ones we all know and love. But the signs are different, and I don’t mean because they are in Spanish. They are placed differently; not regularized in placement, or color, or lettering. Sometimes you must make a turn before a sign, and sometimes quite a way after the sign. It can be a challenge to find signs for street names. Glorietas (or round-abouts) are a little scary at first, but then they begin to make sense. Just keep to the center of the circle if you are going all the way around, and to the outside lane if you are going to turn right. Many large cities have removed glorietas and replaced them with signal lights.
I can’t give myself a high mark in this, but it is improving. Here’s an example: if I were at my home in California and a visitor was seated on my couch, I would go sit next to them to show I was happy they were there, and that I wanted to visit and be sociable. Here, in Mexico though, if someone is visiting and I go to sit with them, in a few minutes they get up and go. A territorial thing? (Sometimes useful!)
I think this was quite random, but that’s what I can think of right now for my checkup, and I’m just going to quit.

Continuation – Truck Registration

For those of you waiting with bated breath to find out the outcome of our legalization of Foxy The Truck, it did finally come to pass. We got a call from the import agent that the truck was ready, and that he would drive it to Hermosillo for us. 
NOTE: Yes, you can get certain years and types of cars “Mexicanized”, which was our goal. It is just not practical to keep renewing 6-month permits unless you are staying very close to the border, as each renewal requires a drive to the border. The paper-work for legalizing our truck cost less than $1000. In FACT, it’s really not practical to bring a car at all unless you plan to leave and take it with you. You can read about this on other blogs.
We took a bus north to Hermosillo. The trip was described by the bus agent as a 24-hour ride from Leon. The bus was nice, with movie screens and comfortable seats. But we ended up right next to the bathroom, and the fumes of chemicals were pretty strong. The trip took about 30 hours, mostly, as far as I could tell, because of the MANY TIMES (I think it was 8 times) that we were stopped by the Federales. One time we were stopped for nearly an hour. I noticed that every time they came into the bus, they questioned the same woman a few seats in front of us. And once they questioned a guy in the back seat of the bus for a half-hour hour or so. It was hot when we were stopped, and the passengers became pretty restless. Once Chon asked an officer why they were bothering everyone so much. The answer was “Por la maldita droga” (damn drugs.) There were many large buckets of some liquid in the luggage space underneath a bus that was stopped next to us, and the agents examined and re-examined them without opening them.
I had never seen the little tiny sleeping place underneath buses where the second driver could sleep – I had no idea they existed.
The only other memorable event during the bus trip north was a wonderful shrimp cocktail we had during a short breakfast stop in Navojoa. The owner of the little spot where we ate was from Guanajuato. The shrimps were medium-sized, and in a flavorful, reddish liquid with chopped onions and cilantro with lemon or lime juices. He urged me to add ketchup. It was delicious and invigorating.
We found our agent and the truck at the bus station in Hermosillo about 5 pm. We paid him and started off for a pretty easy trip back. We worried about crossing state lines, (just because Things Happen), but we were not stopped even once.
We arrived in Navojoa around ten, and stopped at an autohotel called El Peñon (one of those), and got up and left around ten in the morning.
Traveling through Sinaloa was interesting. We usually pass through there in the dark of night. Sinaloa is a produce state, (the car license plates boast tomatoes on them, which gives you an idea) and reminds me a lot of California’s San Joaquin Valley. There had been a hard freeze in January (see earlier blog entry) and many trees and fields were burned and ruined. 
There are miles and miles of fields in Sinaloa, many bearing small signs, identifying the brands of seeds used for the planting. The names on the signs were all familiar to me, and to anyone who has driven through farm country, – I saw Asgrow, Dekalb, Pioneer, and Monsanto, among others.
We arrived in Mazatlan, the famous beach town, at five pm, and had a good caldo on the main street at a family food stand. We stayed at our favorite one of those, Xtasys, and got up early, about 5 am.  That spot charges by the hour if you stay more over your allotted twelve hours.
It took 3 and a half hours to get through Tepic. We fervently hoped to get through Guadalajara without getting confused (again) by the highway signs, but alas, it was not to be. We followed signs to Mexico City, Highway 15, as we had planned, but we ended up on a bit of highway that ended in a dirt road. We got directions, and found ourselves on a hair-raising rocky road, headed up a very steep hill when the gas tank we were using, never absolutely dependable in its indicator, ran low on gas, and began to sputter. I switched tanks as quickly as possible, the engine died. I award myself many, many bravery points for getting Foxy started again while stomping hard on the brake so we didn’t slide backwards down the hill. Of course, Chon helped to keep me calm by telling me how wonderful I was (me keeping up a constant stream of sweating and swearing , and being very encouraging in general.)
Our detour took us to a wonderful artesan town called Tonala. There were beautiful object of glass, copper and wood displayed in the streets.  Our gas tanks continued to lie to us, and Foxy nearly died again as we went up an onramp to the highway. Once again, though, however hair-raising, we maintained our forward movement and headed to Juana’s house on the other side of Arandas, the famous tequila-making town.
Juana seems to have a sort of 6th sense about our arrivals, and she hurried to the door to welcome us. She fed us something really good that I can’t recall – I think it was a guisado, and we left before dark, because there is an unmarked turn we missed on the return from Josefino once.
Now we have a Mexican automobile! Legal! Forever! No trips to the border to renew permits!