Ride Report: Day 15

Day 15 / Friday, September 11, 2009

As I neared the Mexican border, I reflected on the fact that I had traveled from the Canadian border down the spine of the Rockies through beautiful wilderness and enjoyed a good ten days on the Continental Divide. After taking the obligatory picture at the border, I crossed into Mexico for lunch at Las Palomas.

Besides finding my favorite Mexican food, birria (stewed goat meat), my main purpose was to make sure that I could successfully temporarily import a motorcycle into Mexico. When I exited Mexico in 2007, after my two week trip around the country, I didn't manage to perform the required exit procedures for myself or my motorcycle. I'll blame it on confusion at the border and not understanding the severity of the situation. Without showing the Mexican customs officials that you've successfully departed their country with your temporarily imported vehicle, they'll presume it's still in Mexico and probably being illegally sold. This can prevent you from entering their country the next time with a vehicle, without jumping through some hoops and paying fines.

Since I was on a new motorcycle with a new passport, I didn't have any problems getting sanDRina through customs. The key to ensuring that I could re-enter Mexico in the future was to make sure I did all the exit procedures correctly this time.

From the Canadian border to the Mexican border along the Continental Divide of the USA. Done.

Crossing over into Mexico at Columbus / Las Palomas to make sure I could enter the country with no problems, as I didn't exit properly the last time in 2007.

My reward for having completed the ride - having some super tasty birria for lunch, which is stewed pulled goat meat soup. Mmm mmm good, my favorite dish from my first trip into Mexico.

What a nice array of condiments, just the kind of stuff I like to put on my food: cucumbers, avocado, cilantro, cabbage, salsa and hot sauce.

After a delicious lunch, I headed east to Ciudad Juárez to cross back into the US. I couldn't cross back where I had entered as I didn't want to rouse any suspicions with the customs officials. Not being a US citizen, my immigration matters are a bit more official with every country I enter.

I definitely knew about the drug cartel violence happening in Juarez with around 4,000 people being killed since the escalation in 2007, but I was hoping to make a beeline for the border and was counting on crossing the border before night fell. When I got to the border, I was informed that the vehicle importation offices, Banjercito, were 20 kms outside of the city towards the city of Chihuahua. Seeing the vast numbers of armed military and federal police roaming in the back of pickup trucks, I hoped the violence wouldn't flare up as I dashed in and out of the city.

After completing all the required paperwork and turning around to the border, I saw dark rain clouds hovering over the city and decided to wait it out as it was fast moving and I didn't want to be negotiating crazy traffic in the rain. I came across an abandoned Pemex gas station and set about swapping the main jet on the carburetor for the lower elevations that I was going to be riding through on the way back home.

Heading over to cross back into the US at Juarez.

At an abandoned Pemex gas station, changing out my main jet on the carb for the low elevations that I would be in from here back home to Chicago.

Wrenching on the easily accessible DR and the access to the main jet on the flat slide carb is very convenient for quick changes.

Dashing across the city to the border as night fell, I noticed stickers on many cars with the words "Amor Por Juarez" which appears to be a campaign hoping to spread peace across the city and heal some wounds. It's definitely a complicated problem, but the drug violence continues as people try to get hold of a bigger piece of the lucrative US drug market. And yes, the border region of Mexico can be a dangerous place, but this shouldn't tarnish your image of the beautiful country that starts 20 miles south of the border. Viva Mehico!

Crossing the border took about two hours, and I was randomly selected for a full inspection by US customs. I realized I had an apple in one of my panniers and saw signs that stated that fresh produce couldn't be brought across the border to limit spreading of diseases, but no fears, as the thorough search didn't find the apple. The border guards were more interested in the bike and my trip and I had to explain to one of them how the bike didn't fall over with all that stuff as I leaned through corners. Shortly, I was back in the good ole' US of A, crossing El Paso at night, in the rain heading to near Las Cruces, to stay with a friend from ADVrider for the night.

Crossing the city of Jaurez at dusk, making my way to the border. Drug related violence has escalated in recent times and the strong gun-wielding military presence around the city is trying to curb that. Jaurez's economy is currently growing at a fast rate and has a bright future, if only they can get a handle on the cartels.

Ahhh, los Estados Unidos, mi casa durante diez anos.

The bridge crossing the Rio Grande connecting Jaurez to El Paso.

I sent a message to Kerry from advrider.com as he had posted in the Tent Space list that he was willing to house passing travelers for the night. He rides a Kawasaki KLR650 along with other dirt bikes and is an avid off-roader in the New Mexican desert, along with his daughter who enjoys dirt bikes, as well. Kerry is retired from a career with the Border Patrol and along with his wife, is hoping to travel more in the future.

Next: Day 16 - 17, Riding back to Chicago

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