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I need some information, please.


PapaRick
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I got some information from a very nice, personable Canadian man at the LCS information tent about a month ago. Thanks to the LCS bulletin board, I found a place to rent in San Antonio and will be driving down from Florida the first week in May.
 
Google maps shows 2 different routes from Interstate 10 in Texas: The "split" seems to occur around Victoria, TX: US-59S continues into Laredo, OR US-77S enters Mexico in (or near Brownsville.
 
How can I find out WHICH route is preferred from someone who has taken either (or both) of them, and any suggestions regarding a safe place to stay overnight (if needed) once I cross into Mexico. Thank you, and be in peace.
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Generally if not always a person coming to Lake Chapala from that direction would come through Laredo. The route is well traveled and is all 4-lane, mostly toll (cuota). The Brownsville route would generally be taken if going down into eastern Mexico or maybe if a seasoned driver in Mexico. 

Assuming that you do not already have a visa of any kind and have not driven into Mexico before, you will need to get a Tourist Card and a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) at the border once inside Mexico at Immigrations in Neuvo Laredo. If you don't know about the TIP,  just ask. You will also need Mexican car Insurance as your US insurance does not cover driving in Mexico. Available online before leaving or at the border (but maybe a bit more expensive there). 

I would recommend staying the night in Laredo.... plenty of nice motels right downtown, mainly along either side of I35. Get you some pesos at any number of Casa de Combio as you will need them for gas, tolls, motels and eating.  Tolls should be around $70 US these days all the way to Chapala. Gas is expensive running around $3.60/gallon US.   

Many/most people stop in Matehuala about half way down, on highway 57. Take the road into Matehuala and not the bypass. There are several motels but most folks stay at the Hotel Las Palmas Midway Inn.... about $50. Has a decent restaurant but if you want a real treat walk across the street to La Noria. In the morning after breakfast continue driving through town and resume the trip on the freeway south of town towards San Luis Potosi and ultimately Guadalajara. 

 

 

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I agree with everything that RickS said. You may, however, consider another crossing. It is for many folks much easier to cross at the Colombia Bridge than at Laredo. If you stay in Cotulla, TX (45 min. north of Laredo) for the night, you can cross at the Colombia Bridge when it opens at 8:30 in the morning. It is MUCH easier to get your FMM (tourist visa) and your car permit (TIP) at Colombia as the building is just as you cross over. They are rarely busy and the time you save looking for the correct building and waiting makes up for the slightly longer drive.  It is also a lot less stress. At least it was for me. 

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Couldn't agree more about using the Colombia crossing southbound for ease of use. Just be aware that one would have to change their route a bit because Cotulla is not on US59. If it were I, I'd just continue on down 59, stay in downtown Laredo (I personally like staying at the LaQuinta Inn by Windham right on I35 and close to everything) for the evening, get my pesos, have a nice dinner and then in the morning take Mines Road out to the Colombia crossing. Be aware that that crossing does not open until 8:00am.

Many will say, and I actually agree, that crossing SOUTH using International Bridge II downtown is just as easy and the time spent is equal to or less than driving out to Colombia and then 'doubling' back to hiway 85 south. If coming down I35 from San Antonio, staying in Cotulla and using Colombia is a good choice 'tho.     YMMV

 

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5 minutes ago, jrod said:

Colombia-Solidarity is currently closed; agents have been reassigned. Laredo down to 2 lanes for passenger vehicles.

Laredo - Colombia Solidarity | 8 am-Midnight 4/16/2019
 
 

 

That's driving NORTH. 

 

 

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21 minutes ago, crockatt said:

I actually prefer the Anzalduas Bridge from McAllen TX..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzalduas_International_Bridge

Mcallen is actually a nice place to visit & shop... much nicer than Laredo..and Anzalduas is not a commercial truck port of entry...

I think it might be an hour or 2 longer to Chapala once through border...

 

Actually since McAllen is 'farther south' than Laredo, once the border is crossed it's about a toss-up according to Maps.

But for this particular driver.... and I am assuming this is a maiden voyage for him/them....I would not send someone that route.  Agree about McAllen 'tho.

 

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Couldn't agree more with Rick about not driving through McAllen unless you're an experienced, in Mexico, driver. There have been some unfortunate incidents lately on that road South which don't make the English language press....there are reasons for that. Stick to the main routes, use the locations to stay that Rick recommends and don't trust your GPS. The only point where we diverge is in money changing. You can ask your bank to give you pesos for the journey and, depending on the bank, there is usually a very small charge. Anywhere near the border has a surcharge for convenience. However, carry no large sums of money on the journey, just enough for gas, food, motels etc. Good luck!

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On 4/16/2019 at 11:50 AM, RickS said:

 

That's driving NORTH. 

 

 

Just drove through Columbia southbound on Wednesday April 17 about 2:00pm. We were the only one going south and breezed through. Northbound on the other hand was backed up probably 50+ cars deep. I did not notice if anyone was getting through. Maybe someone who went through northbound recently can comment further.

We overnighted at the Quality Inn in Saltillo. 8 hour drive to lakeside from there.

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