The moment we crossed the border with Mexico it felt like the journey had finally really begun. At first, the border was hard to find, mainly due to the overly complicated and badly signposted junction in Texas. But we managed to find the border, doing at first what everybody tells you not to do, driving through Mexico after dark, but we had no choice. We were asked what we were carrying and where we were going, but no passports no stamps no nothing. Even our first words stumbling in Spanish to the Mexican border officer didn’t make it any harder. We’ve crossed many borders before, but this was the weirdest one, ending up Illegally in Mexico.
Now there’s a “free zone”, the first 25km after the border, which we knew about but expected to experience it slightly different. Basically, this means here you don’t need any of the border paperwork you would otherwise need, no visa, no Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for your vehicle, nothing.
After dodging already many potholes and the Mexican border town behind us we were on our way south, this is after the hectic experience in the dark when we started to realize we weren’t happy. Hence; Our expectations didn’t match reality. As we went on we crossed a police checkpoint, which was hard to see because it was pitch dark and there were only very few lights, also here we realized this after it had happened.
We pulled over and fired up our Google Fi hotspot and did some research we should have done earlier. It turned out with passing the “police checkpoint”, we exited the “free zone” and were now in Mexico illegally without Tourist Card (visa), without Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for Grisu, and without insurance for Grisu. For all of the above, there are some stiff penalties, confiscating the vehicle, jail and or deportation
Since it was now late, we went to sleep at a truckers stop next to the Mexican highway. Besides the dogs around the stop being very interested in Layla, nobody bothered us. The next day we drove back to the checkpoint where now with the help of daylight, we could read the sign which confirmed our research from the night before. We got our paperwork done, as if we just entered the country, nobody knew..