I don't even know how the idea came up but my wife suggested that since we're 5 miles from Mexico that we should take a ride South a ways to see what it's all about. Since we had a 3-day weekend for MLK day I figured the time was right and we should just go for it. Banámichi is a small town on the Sonora River about 150 miles distant from us; I figured that being so close it wouldn't be too uncomfortable and probably somewhat Americanized.
After a bit of research we determined that we could get a 7-day tourist visa free at Naco but would have to go to either Agua Prieta or Cananea for our vehicle permit. Of course we could do it all in Agua Prieta but I have an irrational dislike for AP.
We headed down to Naco for our Tourist Visa on Wednesday evening, I really didn't want to try to jam too much in on Saturday as the Banjercito in Cananea only stayed open until 1 pm and I'm prone to getting lost. It's easier to park on the US side and just walk through the pedestrian gate into Mexico that to worry about taking the car.
The immigration office is about 50 feet past the border, I was prepared with all the necessary documentation so I didn't expect a hassle here, and didn't get one. The official at the desk didn't speak a whole lot of English so I made sure to speak really loudly and waved my arms around so he'd get the message. Realizing that he was dealing with someone who was mentally deficient he made sure to not only tell me what day we needed to be back but also to point it out on the calendar then count the days back until today.
Before we left we asked where would be the best place to exchange for some pesos, he told us to go down to the next block on the right side and we'd see it. This is where I came to realize the flaw in our plan to ride in Mexico; I don't speak a work of Spanish. Sure I took my first lesson last night and have another one tomorrow but none of the store signs are in English, what am I supposed to do?
As we were wandering around one of the ubiquitous children selling whatever it is they sell came up and rattled off something; I countered with a big "No Gracias" and continued on my way. My wife, being smarter than I am, asked him where we could get some pesos; his immediate reply was "Oh, Cambio!" and pointed to the store that we were directly in front of. We gave him a dollar and stepped inside. Now I'm still not sure what Cambio means but we were in some sort of cell phone company office. As we waited in line I watched the kid who'd directed us in here waving his dollar around while he shouted something that was probably in the vein of, "hey all the rest of you I have a sucker in here that will believe anything you say and give you money, everyone come over here!" Of course I'm only guessing.
We approached the window with trepidation as our turn came, ready for the laughter and "Stupid Gringos" that were sure to chase us out onto the street; instead to clerk wrote the exchange rate on a piece of paper and we got our pesos, way too easy.
We'd had enough for now so we headed back over the border to our car, I'm always amazed at the different vehicles the Mexicans get than what we get in the states, this might be just some Chinese knock-off motorcycle but it might be something cool.