April 26, 2021

Eva and I woke up early to get our last shower in the US. Since there is no daylight savings time in Arizona, the sun comes up early so the group was ready to head to the border at 7:30 am. We crossed the border from Douglas, AZ to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.

The border crossing was interesting as Frenchie, our group leader, was able to drive right through, but the rest of us were pulled aside for secondary inspection. The custom agents spent the most time on our van as they had me open all my tool bags in the rear bumper box.

After the inspection we spent about an hour getting everyone through the visa and TIP (temporary import permit) for the vehicles. We were the only group in the office, but there is a lot of paperwork to bring a vehicle into Mexico. You essentially leave a $500 deposit that is returned when you take your vehicle out of the country. Last year when we traveled to Baja, the TIP was not required, so it was a little easier. 

Once we were done with the paperwork, we loaded up and drove through Agua Prieta to the #2 highway and headed south-east through the Mexico desert with our plan to reach Nuevo Casas Grandes by lunch to meet with our final traveling companion.

The #2 highway paralleled the border as we crossed northern Sonora until we hit the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. At that point we climbed the mountain pass and crossed the continental divide into the state of Chihuahua. Highway #2 is like many Mexican highways. There were smooth wide sections and there were other paved spots were the pavement was broken and as rough as cobblestones. The edge of the pavement also ended at the white line on the side, with no shoulder except a 3 foot drop off. There were also many sections of dirt and rock roads where the highway was still being built. This variety of road surfaces could all occur within 2-3 miles of each other.

After crossing the continental divide we descended into the Chihuahua desert. I believe the road improved in Chihuahua and the towns and farms appeared more prosperous. Due to Covid many restaurants were closed or for take-out only, but we found a small burger place near the Casas Grands town square and ate lunch in the park.

 We continued towards Mata Ortiz where we planned to spend the night, however, we took a small detour to Colonia Juarez to drive through this Mormon colony and see the temple that was built several years ago. It was interesting to see the US/Utah influence on the town layout and architecture. It looks more like a small town in Utah, than Chihuahua Mexico.

We arrived in Mata Ortiz around 4 pm and stopped at the Adobe Hotel. Everyone else got rooms in the hotel, but we slept in the van in the parking area. It was very windy when we arrived, and the wind continued through the rest of the evening. It was too windy and dusty to do much, so we sat at the hotel and talked. Mata Ortiz is famous for a style of handmade pottery and several vendors brought the pottery by for us to look at. It was pretty expensive, but very intricate and beautiful.

Later we had a simple but good dinner at the hotel and the winds calmed a bit, so we hope to have a calm night sleeping in the van. 

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