|Unknown location, somewhere in México, taken with iPhone from car window|
Most of the major roads in México are under construction or being expanded or repaired much like those in the United States. One major difference is that in México there is little warning that road crews are ahead. There is usually a sign that is no more than 100 meters from the actual work. There might be a man waving a red flag in the distance. Another difference is that in México, outside of the metropolitan areas, exit signs are not clearly marked or are completely nonexistent. Shortly after leaving Laredo the traffic was light and I was driving along at a nice clip when the road veered to the right. I thought that this was a continuation of the main road with another road that looked more like an exit veering to the left. Very quickly I realized what I had one and that this road was under construction and ended at a deep drop off into a muddy bog. Fortunately, I was able to stop a few meters before the van would have been axle deep in the mud. I backed up to get on the correct road and was thankful we avoided what would have been an embarrassing and time consuming event. This is why it is not recommended that one drive through México at night. The highway out of Laredo toward Monterrey was mostly very good, with an occasional pothole not unlike the roads we are accustomed to in Virginia, where the transportation department is poorly funded. Aware that this is one of the areas we are warned to avoid due to cartel activity, we wanted to get as far into central México as possible that first day. Another successful navigator of this route and fellow Mérida blogger had recommended our planned stops along the way. Saltillo, in the state of Coahuila was to be the first stop. Although many people choose to travel all the way to San Luis Potosi the first day, we were planning on shorter driving days mainly for the animals.
On the outskirts of the city we spotted a brand new Holiday Inn Express and decided to spend the night there. This hotel did not allow dogs, but we were able to have a hot shower and relax from a day on the road. The dogs seemed to be comfortable in their tiny, secure space and we were parked far enough in the back to be able to run the generator and air conditioner all night. It's amazing that the van guzzles gas but the generator can run all night and the gauge barely moves.
We had another forgettable meal at a nearby restaurant and after a good night's sleep we were on the road headed for San Luis Potosi. Once again, we saw no one that looked like a gangster and for the most part we travelled unnoticed except for an occasional glance at the motor home. So far we have encountered only courteous and friendly people who try their best to understand and translate our limited Spanish.