By Sue Schools
Pre-COVID-9 (Ye Good Olde Days), I enjoyed driving my huge van to Texas and beyond to compete in chili cook-offs, visit friends and family, and do some shopping. I always take one or two of my standard poodles with me for companionship and an illusion of protection. Even parking in shaded areas, the summer temperatures are dangerous for my loved ones, so I prefer going in cooler months.
One time, I traveled a few days before Christmas and learned a hard lesson. Not sure of my arrival, I canceled my motel reservation in Laredo only to find out when I did arrive that evening, all the rooms in the town were taken, except one which was normally $40 (this was years ago, remember) and that night priced at $110. My van has a twin bed, a port-a-potty, and ice chest, so I decided to sleep in the Walmart parking lot. Recreational vehicles are allowed in W/M lots everywhere, but for some reason the guard tapped on my walls about 4:00 a.m.
I had planned to leave about 5:00 a.m., so groggily I went inside the superstore to use the facilities and stopped at an all-night ministore for a cappuccino to go. I was on the road a little early and returned Lakeside by sunset, and as always, was glad to be home again and pleased with my new memories and purchases.
Last year was different as I traveled north on December 20th and was amazed at the southbound traffic. Hundreds of cars were lined up to proceed through the first tollbooth, with many just turning off their engines and walking around to stretch. The same occurred at the second caseta de cobro and there were Oxxo shops on both sides of the highway. Travelers who had been shut up for hours were all descending on the stores for bathroom breaks, cold drinks, and snacks. I can’t even imagine the plunder on the plumbing tanks nor the depletion of toilet paper and provisions.
Also, my mind boggled at the tollbooth income at 273 pesos per carload. If I were a bold criminal with bandit amigos armed with machine guns, the nightly haul could have been tremendous. When I made the trip this November 2020, there were new tollbooths being built to further the delay and increase income proportionately.
From Matehuala to San Luis Potosi, there were individuals peppered along the southbound sidelines waving at passing cars. At first, I thought they were possibly trying to hitchhike to SLP for a special holiday Mass. But on and on they sat or stood and waved. One family was joined by a grandmother in a wheelchair! I’m a little slow sometimes, and finally realized they were lined up to welcome back their Mexican compatriots who were returning home for the holidays. It was an incredibly warm feeling and even as an expat resident, I felt welcomed.
A word of advice, leave early or stay late to avoid the holiday rush.
Viva la Mexico!!
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com