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inspector you get. There is an official list of property allowed, but is not often
followed. The inspectors usually look for desktop computers, items in boxes
they originally came in, articles with price tags on them, or merchandise that
may be sold in Mexico. Laptop computers seem to get by every time, as long as
they are not in the original box and price tags removed.
If you are taking in new household items, remove them from the original
boxes, try to make them look worn, and run the linens through the washing
machine and dryer. I made the mistake of not doing that and paid over $100
U.S. in duty. What was even worse, I spent over two hours convincing the cus-
toms inspector I should not have to pay $400 U.S.
Pets: Mexico welcomes dog and cat visitors. All you need to be legal is a
clean bill of health and up-to-date shots from a Veterinarian within the past 72
hours. An international Health Certificate is even better. I've been told that in
most cases, no paperwork is requested.
Pesos: At the 21-kilometer immigration stop, there is a money exchange
available, but the exchange rate is not as good as at the tollbooths. There is a
Pemex station about 90 kilometers south of the immigration stop. Next to it is
a restaurant called "D'gymon." It is a great place for lunch. Between it and the
gas station is a small ATM room. I've found that most ATMs have the best rate
of exchange. The paper money will be used to pay for tolls and fuel.
At the restaurant, pick up a pocketful of coins--especially one and two peso
coins. I keep the coins handy in the ashtray because in most large cities, and in
some smaller towns, young boys lie in wait for you at stoplights. With rag in
hand they leap on the hood of your car and wipe your windshield. If I need the
windshield cleaned I pay them two pesos. If I don't want it cleaned I wave at
them, and yell no mas (no more), and give them two pesos to get off my car. I
know, I'm paying ransom, but I guess it keeps the kids busy (but not off the
streets)--and besides I haven't been able to figure an alternative.
All Pemex gas stations have clean restrooms, but some have an attendant
who expects a "tip" of two pesos. The payment is not required. I don't know
about you, but when I am heading for the bathroom, I don't want to stop and
haggle prices. We always carry our own toilet paper, and have had occasion to
use it.
Fuel: The only gas stations in the entire country are called Pemex.
Something I have never been able to understand is that Mexico exports a great
deal of oil, yet gasoline is very expensive throughout the country. Gas stations
are plentiful on the roads leading from the U.S. to Mazatlán.
There are three kinds of fuel sold: Magna Sin, which is rated 87 octane and
is unleaded; Premium, which is a high-test unleaded gas rated at 89 octane;
and of course, diesel fuel.
M a z a t l a n I S P a r a d i s e