5 Things You Must Know BEFORE You Drive to Lale Chapala

May 25, 2013

 
Lately I’ve been asked about driving to Lake Chapala from the The Texas border.
 
Most people have done some research and know the legal requirements (get car insurance before entering Mexico, post a bond at the border which is returned when you follow the rules when leaving the country with the vehicle, etc.
 
Other advice is common, but bears repeating here. DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT (Easy to get lost, road hazards, etc.) Change dollars for pesos near the border but before entering Mexico as rates are more competitive. Insurance is likely less expensive other than at the border.
 
This is all very important, buy I’d like to share some tips with you you’re unlikely to hear elsewhere.
 
These are not in any special order. OK, here we go”
 
1.    Find a Driving Trip Plan written by an English speaker.
(There are several good ones on line. I've added a link
at the end of this article,
 
2. Use a good map. The best are the Roji maps available at this link.
                http://www.amazon.com/Guia-Roji-Mexico-Tourist-Atlas/dp/9706211764
    I like the 8.5 x 11 inch format best as it's easier for me to read.
 
   3.    Use the Toll Roads (Cuotas) as much as possible.
 
4.    Watch your gas. A good rule is to look for a convenient Pemex
     station when you’re at half a tank. Avoid stations with lots of people
     hanging around to avoid pesky sales people, being distracted and
     conned in some manner.
 
(Usually rural stations are not busy, cleaner and with better service).
Often these stations have female attendants who live in the nearest
village.
 
Be sure the gas pump starts off reading all ZEROS on the money line.
(The pumps have a warning sign in Spanish. If memory serves the
words are “Mira Zeros” or “look for zeros”. The idea is to keep you
for paying for the last person to gas up and your own gas.
 
5.    Create a set of index cards with key phrases you may need         
     written in Spanish, in English and phonetically. A card for
    service stations, a card for the hotel, a card to ask directions
    and a card for traffic stops and check points.
 
    Keep the cards handy in shirt pocket or purse for easy reference
      
    Google can translate your phrases into Spanish for you.
 
    Good phrases are __?__ pesos de verde por favor (blank pesos
    of Green, please) Green is regular gas. Red pumps are Premium
    Gas.
 
    Be sure and have a card for check points that states in Spanish
    Where you’re going. Sometimes they do not know Lago de  
    Chapala. You can use Guadalajara as a substitute.
 
    These stops usually ask where you’re going and where did you     
     Come from?  They usually mean your last nights stop and your  
     ultimate destination.
 
Here are some good links:
 
http://www.accesslakechapala.com/guide/driving-in-mexico/driving-instructions-from-laredo-to-chapala/
 
 
http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/3205-driving-south-laredo-to-lake-chapala
 
Hope you have a safe, fun, and  interesting trip. Let me know if you have
questions. All for now,
 
Siempre tu amigo, Sid

Email for more information:
Sid@ChapalaClub.com

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