Day 1 - Guaymas
After trying for a month I finally left Tucson at about 12:30 (late dinner and movie Zero Dark Thirty; SUV re-packed AGAIN led to a later start than expected). Someone wanted 20 lbs of Russet potatoes, I got anxious about finding decent peanut butter and saltine crackers in Nicaragua; Shelley added some wine, some Costco sized bags of M & M's, and a big package of yeast. It all adds up -quickly.
Crossing at Nogales is simple. We stopped to get Mexican Insurance and the insurer gave us a sheet with 15 thumbnail photos, and step by step instructions for entering Mexico, importing our vehicle, and getting tourist cards.. Seven days of insurance cost $35 and I opted for the $12 rider that bails me out of jail, and hooks me up with an attorney in the event of an accident. The insurance is liability only, with $100K coverage.
There is a bypass west of Nogales, Mx which is accessible from I-19, exit 4, Mariposa Road. You really don't want to continue south on I-19 and fight your way through Nogales. The $4 cost of the bypass is money well spent. The entire toll cost to Guaymas including the bypass was $11.50 Crossing is so straightforward that you are several kliks into Mexico before you realize, "Hey, we're in Mexico".
Tourist cards and temporary vehicle importation is handled at "KM 21" on the road south. Everything is there in one complex, the entire process was friendly and efficient, and cost a total of 590 Mexican Pesos (at about 12.5 /dollar). There is also a customs checkpoint that you drive through after completing the documentation process,,, with a red/green semaforo. Green you just keep on driving, red you get inspected. Despite the fact that our vehicle was pointed skyward with the load, and we had three suitcases tied to the top, bikes on the back, we got the Pase signal. I think everyone gets the green. This is a major tourist route.
Tourist cards and vehicle permits are good for 180 days; tourism is important to Mexico and has been a big driver of her economy over the years.
You can drive to Guaymas without the permit and return; it's called the "Hassle-Free Zone". There's a lot of Arizonans with homes in San Carlos, Rocky Point, and other Sea of Cortez locales. But, beyond Guaymas you need the importation document and the sticker on the windshield. The road is excellent, and very fast. We did 60-70 mph the entire way, except going through Hermosillo. If only the Pan Am through Nicaragua was like this!
The road through Hermosillo to Guaymas is well marked, but we also had our GPS with a Mexican map set. We had the GPS set for the McDonalds in Guaymas, and Tina brought us right to the spot. We arrived in Guaymas shortly after 9PM.
Tomorrow we'll get an earlier start :).