It was a Sunday morning when we awoke with the sensation, once again, of restlessness.
Living in Bandera, Texas has its pros and its cons. For one thing, we are lucky. Some would even say we are #2blessed2stress. We live in a historic home that was built in 1876 by Franz and Carolina Jurezcki and in the next century, was purchased and restored by my grandparents, Don and Peggy Tobin. As its current residents, we have come in to restore its traditional glory and introduce new life with our more modern Mexican aesthetic. So essentially, we are beyond lucky and extremely grateful. On the other hand, we are back in my hometown, population 1,000, where fitting in, saying your prayers, and voting Republican is expected. Sometimes we just feel trapped. Regardless of how wonderful our home situation is, what we felt on Sunday, June 27, 2016 was the urge to get the hell out of town.
I, Ashley Casillas, am the kind of traveler that can have a bag packed and out the door almost as soon as someone says “let’s go.” I had been waiting for that moment. David was ready too. We packed our bags, threw them in the Prius, grabbed some dried venison sausage, bread, peanut butter, apples, one soggy peach and water and hit the road. I have to be honest, I don’t remember anything special that happened between Bandera and Laredo. I had my hands on the wheel and my eyes glued to my next destination. David spoke often about his excitement for getting out of Texas. I nodded, grunted, ate a peanut butter sandwich and kept on driving.
Laredo, Texas in 2016. Scorching heat that melts your paleta before you get to lick it. Border lines so long, you wonder why you decided to drive in the first place. Laredo, your most dreaded town to have to pass through. But lo and behold, we unknowingly planned an unplanned trip to México during the low season of tourism. From Exit 1 we could see nothing but street leading to the bridge. David now in the driver’s seat already in México Driver mode, pressed down the pedal and we sped toward the toll booth, paid who knows how much (“Here, take my money. Let me out!”), and crossed that cursed bridge to our next nightmare-Nuevo Laredo, Customs.
David rolled down his window and we were signaled to go forward. With a car from the United States of America, it is required to pass through customs to obtain a car permit along with receiving your stamp in your passport. It is an important step to ensure your safe and legal travel through México, they say. Well, if it is so important, why in God’s name is the building so hard to find? We toured through Nuevo Laredo, passing through run down streets. David asked for directions and so began our adventure.
Everything and every place that you look for in México is always around the corner and straight ahead.
Customs in Nuevo Laredo is actually situated in a black hole. You can’t find it yet when you finally do, you wonder how you didn’t see it in the first place. Our advice to you who travel by car is to try and avoid Customs. We are not saying, “don’t go there” but rather simply, if you don’t look for Customs and don’t ask for it, you shall find it. You don’t find Customs, Customs finds you.
Stamp here, pay there, we went in, got out and hit the road again with Monterrey in mind.
The road was straight and you could see the horizon. They sky was blurry and the heat created waves that danced above the surfaces. Along the side of the highway, Yucca stood tall, reaching higher and higher towards the sky the further we drove into México. 7 hours into the roadtrip, I made friends with those plants that had begun to look like party trees in a perpetual rave along the foothills of a growing terrain.
With the plains behind us, we drove into the outlying limits of the Sierra Madre Oriental and rose in altitude. The mountains were home to the Yucca, Tasajillo, Prickly Pear, Bayahonda, Mesquite, and Cenizo to name a few. Lines of tectonic forces and layers of history surrounded us-It was as if God had decided to take a nap in the plains and upon waking, pressed south the land by hand, folding layer upon layer, slanting and pushing upwards and out towards the sky.
Amidst the mountains, in the home of the Cerro de la Silla, we had reached our first destination, Monterrey, México.