I have gotten lost on the first day of travelling in a new city in almost every place I've ever been. This first happened in St. Petersburg, Russia. I tried to make note of all the signs and buldings I passed so that I knew to turn left at McDonalds, right at the sign that said 24 yaca, and to go straight past the large palace. It turned out that 24 yaca meant "open 24 hours" and every block had a dozen of them. I thought McDonalds would be a memorable place in Russia. Nope. There's several of them in the city center. There are almost as many McDonalds as there are large palaces....
So I wandered St. Petersburg long after the sunset, until a girl asked me for money. I told her I didn't speak Russian, and then she politely asked again in English. I almost collapsed with relief. She directed me back to the metro, and I found myself home a short while later.
I'd like to say that I gave her money, but I was 22, and probably didn't.
So it should have be no surprise, that yesterday, as I crossed into Nuevo Laredo, I got lost as hell within the first few minutes.
In order to drive your car in Mexico you have to get an temporary import permit for it. I attempted to do it online. I attempted to do it at the consulate. All so that I wouldn't have to do in in Mexico. Neither worked, and I was forced to cross the border a day early, just to do the paperwork.
It was 103 degrees as I crossed the border in Nuevo Laredo. It seemed simple enough. You go through the customs lane, and look to your right for a large white building. As I got my green light at customs, I looked to my right. No building. I had no choice but to drive on.
Slightly panicked, I pulled into the parking lot of a school. I figured that would be a safe place for a white girl to search google maps in a sketchy town in Mexico....I locked my doors and quickly googled something along the lines of "GOD, please help me, I'm in a border town in Mexico and don't know where I'm supposed to get my temporary import permit". It spit out an address. I put it into maps, and started driving. About 5 turns into it, I knew that there was no way that this was the right address, but unsure of what else to do, so I faithfully followed the directions spit out by my car stereo.
It took me to a bus station about 5 miles from the border. And I had no idea how to get back to the border. I suddenly wished I was a smoker again.
I finally pulled over at a sign that said something along the lines of , "We rent cars to gringos". I figured they would not only speak English, but also know all about this stupid car permit.
The receptionist talked to me for about 5 minutes in very broken English, trying to explain how to get to the mysterious white building. I walked out with a little more direction than I had walked in with. All I knew was that once I got to a bridge I should look for a white building. Which is how I got into this predicament in the first place.
But sure enough, there it was. A white building just before the bridge. I scraped my car on a tope, made an ass out of myself in front of at least fifty people, nearly died of heat exhaustion as I waited to get back into the US, but I left Nuevo Laredo with my car permit.
Oddly enough, once this was done, I was pretty sure the worst was over. I crossed back into Mexico the next morning without the slightest problem. I drove nearly 500 miles, on great roads, with out any problems.
I arrived in San Miguel last night. I got lost on the way to the grocery store. But that's just how it goes.
I'm Lauri. Teacher for nine months of the year, vagabond for the other three. I've traveled to France, Russia, West Africa, SE Asia and all over the US. This summer I'll be driving to Mexico with my little dog, Nilo.