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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

6 minutes into Mexico

Note: I finally have my pictures from Mexico organized and I'll be posting them with comments today and tomorrow.

This is a 6 minute video of getting into Mexico at Nogales. It starts out on I-19 and ends up in the streets of Nogales.

As you can see it was no big deal and there was nobody waiting to jump me on the other side. In fact, it was just like any other city with lots of shops and traffic.

I stopped at a bank to try to exchange money. I was told that they only did that for bank account holders and the woman took me out on the street and directed me to where the cambios were. 

There are a couple of streets off the main road that house many cambios (money exchanges). These look pretty seedy at first glance and all those Uncle Henry stories come to mind. However, I parked the bike and stood there to get some idea of what was going on. The cambios each had a sign that said Compra 12.70 Venta 13.25. 

Just as I was figuring this out (buy US$ at 12.70 pesos, sell US$ at 13.25 pesos) this guy walks up and strikes up a conversation. Hmmm ... What does he want. Not much it turns out. He just wants to talk about motorcycles.

I ask him about changing money and he says he knows a guy ... Just around the corner ... 

It turns out to be just another faceless window with a sign over it. The guy I met talked through the window and then asks how much I want to change. I tell him US$300 and he talks through the window and tells me his friend will give me 12.75 pesos for each dollar. This is 15 extra pesos or about a dollar and a half.

So I give him the money, he hands it through the window, and in a couple of minutes an old style adding machine tape wrapped around a wad of bills appears. I stuff it into my pocket and walk back to my bike with my amigo. I give him a 10 peso coin as a commission.

I asked him about crime with all the tourists and money floating around. He laughs and says this is the safest place in town. The cambio owners would not allow anyone to be cheated or robbed. It would ruin the confidence necessary to conduct their business. They are a police force unto themselves.

Later, I checked the math and counted the money and it was all there. My bike sat on the side street unattended and out of sight for maybe 10 minutes. It was undesturbed. 

So Uncle Henry was wrong again. This dangerous border town was just another place along the road. I'm sure that, if I tried, I could find a dark alley where I could find somebody to hit me over the head but that day my biggest problem turned out to be finding the road out of town.

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