An easy day's drive, only 110 miles and some of it was on tollway that was worth paying for. But even so it took us four hours to drive those 110 miles. The toll booths rarely have more than one attendant so as soon as 19 of us show up, the traffic is jammed. Our leaders have emphasized the importance of keeping the rig behind you in sight so that none of us miss critical turns on the route. The directions we have been given by the caravan company are quite clear, but without good maps, if you miss a turn you have only ESP to guide your way. When we drive in the US we rely heavily on the GPS to give us the best routes and tell us where to turn and maps are supplemental. Ken tried to buy maps of Mexico for our GPS, but the country has not been mapped well enough for the company to create them. This is a surprise and a disappointment, since it is possible to buy maps for many countries in the world including South Africa. We did buy a map book, but it lacks detail. When you are pulling a 32' trailer, you want to avoid U-turns at all costs.
The most challenging part of the drive was the last six miles as we entered the large city of Veracruz. As 19 of us descended on a commercial area with three lanes on each side, we jockeyed around trying to figure out which lane we should be in for the next turn. Traffic was heavy and the congestion was amplified by an accident between a bus and a truck in the middle lane. We all have CB's and the chatter kept us on the right track and probably mystified those around us as we moved as if in some mega football play, covering lanes for one another so we could all make the turns through town.
We are boondocked again in a parking lot behind a hotel. There is an electric wire strung along the parking lot for us to plug into, but it's the size of Xmas light wire and a hazard waiting to happen. In campgrounds at home we use 30 amps and the big class A bus type rigs often use 50. We have plugs the size of my fist at the end of thick power cords that will carry the juice we need to fire up those microwaves and televisions.
We're in a great location right on the beach. Next door is the hotel pool and farther down the beach volleyball nets and waterpark slides give the impression that this is the place to be when the weather is hot. Unfortunately, the weather is not hot. We are dogged by the weather gods once again. It's overcast and in the mid '60's, with 30 - 40mph wind gusts. When I tried to walk on the beach, the fine sand got in my eyes and sent me back to the rig weeping.
So what do Americans do when it's not nice outside - we go shopping. The Walmart, a store I avoid like the plague at home - was a treat. There were some signs in English and a nice mix of familiar and unfamiliar items. In the bakery section we followed the example of those around us and picked up big metal trays and tongs and plucked the freshly baked items to bring back to the counter to be weighed and priced. Hope we like the empanadas we chose; we have no idea what's inside them.
Our first impression of Veracruz is that it is a modern city with a lot to offer. Tomorrow's tour should tell us more.