Should be a Sticky around here!!
Great information Jeff!
I hope folks out there take your advice to heart. Some very sound advice from a wise and seasoned traveler.
Just a couple notes:
Fantastic advice. I just did a 4300 mile Mexico ride, leading a bunch of non Spanish speakers around. It becomes VERY tiresome translating for everyone,
being the spokesman at military stops and dealing with everyone's Turista
paperwork. I wasn't being paid but felt like I should have been after 3 weeks.
I am not fluent but get by fairly well.
LEARN SPANLISH YOU BASTIDS!! I lived at Atitlan off and on for two years so I back your suggestion of doing an immersion class there. Antigua is nice too. Knowing just 300 words of Spanish is like night and day in terms of your
Travel in the rainy season can be nice....just get your riding done in the morning. The jungle is never more beautiful than in the rainy season. Sometimes a drag on a bike but if you have time, not so bad really. Avoid Hurricanes!!
International Driver's license
Never used one but this is a great idea! Cheap and easy insurance! I always carry two or three expired CA licenses and a "dummy" Passport. Has worked well in the past.
Couple points on Mexico. If you stay in Sonora you do not need a temp. vehicle import permit. If you stay either in Baja or Sonora for 7 days or less, no tourist card OR temp. import permit is required.
On this last trip, two of my charges were denied temp. import permits. (another story) A friendly Migracion guy just said, "Go, just tell them your going to Guaymas to the Ferry". In fact, we were NEVER, not once, asked for our Turista sticker/paperwork. (all this in April of 2006). We were as far south as Parral, rode over to Topolobambo and took the Ferry to La Paz then rode
north. The Ferry company needs only some form of ID, nothing from the Mex. govt. (good thing)
I told my two scofflaws to keep their Tourist permits handy and to show them right away if asked, and hope no one would ask about the Vehicle permit. No one did. We crossed at Sonoyta / Lukeville, AZ heading south, Mexicali on the way home.
Another note about Banjercito. Borders can be different in terms of where Banjercito is located. In T.J, it is about 3 blocks from the border/Immigracion office. In Sonoyta you must drive about 20 miles south east on Mex. 2 to the main Immigration check point. Here you will find everything together:
Migracion/Aduana/Banjercito. The Aduana are very uptight here.
At Frontera #2 in Mexicali, Banjercito is right at the border. Not sure about Frontera #1, but I've been told it is also right on the Mex. side with Migra and Aduana.
When we exited Mexico on a Sunday, the Banjercito office at Frontera #2 was Cerrado!!. Interestingly enough, on the paperwork issued by the Mex. govt. it states Banjercito is a 24/7 operation. So just some more inconsistencies.
My guess with up coming Immigration legislation from the US govt. we will see some significant negative changes in Turista policy from Mexico as retribution for our govt.'s actions. Mostly, this will hurt the Mexicans themselves or Mex-Americans who pass back and forth frequently and play both sides of the fence (hundreds of thousands doing this). Already we could sense a lot of
tension from the bureacrats we dealt with. I speak reasonable Spanish, but even so, found them less than cooperative. I think this is going to get worse very soon, so having your paperwork in order, copies, documents, like you suggest, is more important now than ever.
Once again, you've offered a good primer for anyone heading south.