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If it is raining, slow down. I mean really slow down because the blow off
from the trucks and oil leakage from the vehicles make the roads very slick. It
usually takes several hours of rain to wash the road.
The left turn signal is kind of tricky in Mexico. My rule of thumb is if the
driver of a truck or bus turns on the left turn signal in the country, the driver
is giving you a signal that the road ahead is clear and you may pass. In the city,
a left turn signal means the driver is actually planning to turn left and you
should not pass to the left.
Flashing your headlights to a car in front of you means you want to pass
them. If you are traveling in the opposite direction and see a car flashing head-
lights, you don't have to slow down and start looking for the speed trap.
Left turns are different. When there is a left turn lane, there is usually a left
turn arrow. I see several policemen pulling over gringos in front of my house
who did not wait for the green arrow. Turning right at a red light is not usual-
ly permitted, unless there is a sign saying that it is--except in Mazatlán.
Driving from Tucson to Mazatlán. Have I convinced you that driving
through Mexico is an adventure worth trying? Then let's hit the road. Mazatlán
is approximately 720 miles from Nogales, Arizona, depending on how many
times you get lost. It can be made in one day along Mexico's toll route 15. You
have to get up early, drive fast, and drive long. I've done it and don't recom-
mend it--especially if it's your first time. I'm told the Mexican police have
entered the twenty-first century and have radar guns now.
Starting in Tucson, take Interstate 19 south to Nogales. Just follow the signs
to the border. The initial crossing was no problem for us. In fact, we drove past
the border without so much as a wave. The "real" border doesn't happen for
another 21 kilometers. When you get to the immigration stop, plan on spend-
ing anything from an hour to four hours to get through the process. Park your
car in the large parking lot and take your papers with you. There are four sta-
tions, and in a manner of speaking, they are numbered.
Station 1 is immigration. If you do not have an FM3, you will need to fill
out a tourist visa and present your passport or other documentation proving
you are a U.S. citizen. The officer inside will stamp this and give you a copy to
take with you.
Next, proceed to Station 2, which is a copying station. If you do not have all
your documentation copied as I suggested above, stop and have it copied. If
you have taken my advice, you only have to have your new tourist visa copied
at $.25 U.S. per page.
Go to Station 3 and present these copies and pay the fee for the "temporary
import permit." The person behind the window will fill out the form, and col-
lect the payment, which must be paid by credit card. It comes to about $24 U.S.
M a z a t l a n I S P a r a d i s e