Tag Archives: Traveling in Mexico

Our Trip to PA

It has been 10 years since I have flown anywhere. We’ve become quite the homebodies in La Yacata. So this trip was a tad stressful.

It started with making sure our papers were in order. My passport is good for another 5 years, but my son’s passport expires in July. I did some research and panicked a bit, but found out that he can travel on his passport up until the expiration date. Mexico does not require 6-month padding like some countries. Besides, he would be returning to Mexico as a Mexican citizen, not a US citizen. It never hurts to be prepared though.

So then onto the airport adventure…

When we entered the building in CDMX, a young lady asked if we wanted to have our bag wrapped and weighed. I did need to know how much it weighed but I wasn’t sure what the wrapping was all about. She said it would be a good option since we had to change planes. As our suitcase wasn’t new, I decided to go ahead with it.

She saran wrapped the heck out of our poor suitcase. The wheels had been damaged on the bus trip from Queretaro, so now the weight was unbalanced and wheeling it around was more difficult. Oh well. We only had to check it in and be done with it.

So we headed to the United check-in area. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do since I didn’t have any actual tickets, just a confirmation number. The young lady at the post asked for my documentation. I had no idea what she meant. She asked again what the airline had given me to enter the country. So I said I was a permanent resident in Mexico and my son was a citizen. She grabbed two forms and handed them to us.

We then proceeded to the machine that looked like an automatic teller. I entered my confirmation number and it printed out my tickets. The guy behind the counter took our bag. Overall, it was a little stressful but not overly so.

We headed to the food court to eat and fill out those forms. I went to Subway and stood in line. While I was waiting, a devout Muslim and his Mexican companion fell into line behind me. The Muslim spoke English which the Mexican companion was translating for the food preparer. He asked that she change her gloves and not cut the bread since the knife could have been used to cut pork. The Mexican didn’t translate that last part so I jumped in and told the sandwich preparer not to cut the bread seconds before it would have happened. Scared the bejeezus out of her, but the tuna on white was not contaminated with pork residue.

After that bit of stress, my son and I filled out those forms while we ate. We weren’t sure where we needed to go next, so we asked the cleaning lady. She wasn’t sure either. We wandered around a bit and saw people going down a long hallway. So that’s where we went.

My son’s bag triggered a search. We had brought Oxy cleaning face pads with us and the searcher had never seen such an item. It was eventually approved and we headed through the duty-free zone. We didn’t need any of that crap, so wound our way to the gates.

We sat and people watched for a while. One passenger, Alejandro, had been paged at least a dozen times. We speculated on that, especially when this wild-haired older man was driven at high speed down the hall in one of those airport dune buggies. We thought perhaps the duty-free alcohol samples had gotten the best of him. Several minutes later, a rather heavy-set man sprinted by. We imagined he was the assistant and didn’t rate the dune buggy ride. We had a good chuckle.

Our gate was changed because of another plane that arrived late, but it was in the same area. The pre-boarding check was called. My son’s paperwork was just dandy, however, I needed my form stamped by immigration. I hadn’t seen any sort of immigration check-point, but back we went. It was at least a 1 / 2 mile from where we were at a sort of round kiosk.

The bored attendant stamped my paper and sent me on my way. This time we jumped on the moving sidewalk to make up for the lost time. Wasn’t there a video game that had those in them? We didn’t have time for any of these shenanigans though.

Regardless, we got just as the boarding began and everything was hunky dory. The flight was slightly turbulent but uneventful. Passengers clapped when we landed in Chicago. I filled out a customs declaration form on the plane but no one ever asked for it.

Then we had to pick up our bag and go through customs. We stood by the turnstile as the baggage handler tossed our suitcase into the air. It was rather worse for wear but the saran wrapped kept it together. We checked the bag and headed to the customs kiosk. Our passports were scanned and our faces were photographed. We handed the paperwork to the clerk and headed to the front door.

I wasn’t sure what we had to do since we needed to head to another terminal. A guy in a reflective yellow vest sent us to a tent to wait for a shuttle to the other terminal. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to get off at terminal one or two. A flight attendant on board the shuttle helped me out there.

Then we had to check in at the United counter again, get in line and go through security. This took longer than anticipated. We were behind three different families with limited English skills and babies in strollers. Shoes off, food out of the bags, nothing in pockets, laptops exposed, voila. I even got a “good” from the cranky security guy on my article arrangement in the bin.

Then we had to get into this airlock to get scanned. All of this was new to me. It seems it zeros in on bulges. My sports bra sent up a bulge signal and I got the patdown. I suppose it could be worse?

Then we went the wrong way and spend a frantic 20 minutes looking for our departing gate. The flight was delayed anyway because of electrical problems. There was a Starbucks by the gate and we took advantage of a caffeine hit. Did you know you could get bottled water from Fiji for $5?

A rather large group of high school students were on our flight. Most of them went through by running their phones over the scanner. We were old school and had paper boarding passes. All this new technology!

This flight was equipped with personal TVs. The controls were on the hand rests which I didn’t know and kept inadvertently changing my son’s channels. The safety demonstration was done right on the TV too. The flight was quite bumpy. My son said it wasn’t, but they stopped serving drinks at one point and told the flight attendants to have a seat.

The Philadelphia landing was rough. Nobody clapped. Maybe that’s just a Mexican thing?

We headed out to pick up our bag which would have been battered beyond all recognition except it was the only one with the blue saran wrap. We must have walked another mile or so before we reached the pick-up area. My little brother arrived after a brief wait to pick us up.




Filed under Safety and Security

Traveling to Tepotzotlan

This month my son and I have been doing a bit of traveling.

Our first stop was Tepotzotlán, Estado de Mexico. We took the Primera Plus bus from Moroleon to Queretaro to Tepo. Tepotzotlán means “among humpbacks” in Nahuatl referring to the surrounding hills rather than the inhabitants. The Aztec used a humpback person on top of a hill to represent the town of Tepotzotlán in a glyph. Neat huh?

But, back to the present day. The newest thing in bus travel is free Wifi and charging plugs. We couldn’t find the charging port on either bus. My son even crawled around under the seats. Nada. The Wifi was not as helpful as I had hoped either. I had imagined I could get some writing work done while traveling and that didn’t happen. The WiFi, when it was available, was limited at best. Good thing we brought some books to read.

When we arrived in Queretaro, we had to change buses. We pulled into the last stall and had to race down to the very first stall in 5 minutes. Then there were some additional security measures that we hadn’t known about.

We had to check our suitcase at the desk inside first instead of just handing it over to the driver. Then we had to go through the carry on bag inspection and the metal detector. I’m actually not sure that the metal detectors worked though.

Finally, we boarded the bus with less than 2 minutes to spare. Since we hadn’t had time to pick up something to eat there, we accepted the sandwiches and juice the bus company provides. It was rather less than delicious, but it did stop the ol’ stomach from growling.

The trip was uneventful if slightly longer than promised. Before we arrived at our destination, we ran into traffic. At first, we thought it was an accident and although we passed a demolished red sports car and a tractor-trailer on the road, we were routed around it without even braking.

The reason for the delay was the taxi strike. Uber has cut into the taxi drivers business and they aren’t happy about it. So taxi after taxi drove by us without passengers in protest.

We arrived at the bus terminal finally. Daisy came to pick us up. If you remember, Daisy is my online friend that I met in the South of the Border Sisters Facebook support group. Although we’ve been buddies for years, this was our first in-person meeting. Our visit was all that I hoped it would be and more!

We had such a great time visiting with Daisy and her family in Tepo. Can you believe that the area was settled by the Otomi between 2500 BCE and 100 CE then became part of the Teotihuacan Empire? There were some conflicts, including the assassination of the female ruler Ehuatlicuetzin (whose name means la que tiene faldas de cuero–she who has leather skirts) in 1372. Eventually, the Aztec empire extended its domain and absorbed the town. Bet you didn’t know that did you?

Anyway, Daisy’s husband cooked some meat and nopales in honor of our visit. We got to drive around town and see the sights and the family compound. Daisy told us that the area has become quite industrialized in recent years. Shipping companies and factories have taken over what was open fields. Daisy and I blah blah blahed the whole time! It’s good to have someone to talk to once in a while. 

In the morning, Daisy’s husband drove us to the airport for the next stage of our trip.


Filed under Tourist Sites in Mexico

Travels with Grace Book Giveaway

Did you know that February 14 is International Book Giving Day? #bookgivingday Mexico is one of 44 participating countries and I have the perfect book for you to gift a child in Mexico!

Erma Note has written a delightful story about a bicultural 9-year old Grace who lives in Mexico City. Her American cousin Connor is coming to visit and Grace wants to show him all the amazing things there are to see and do in the area.

travels with grace

For those of you that are not in Mexico, you can find Travels with Grace on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A portion of all book sales is donated to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos orphanage. To learn more about how you can contribute to helping the children of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos orphanage, please visit their site here.

Nothing beats a beautifully illustrated hardcover children’s book! So today I’d like to offer a signed copy of Travels With Grace to one lucky winner here in Mexico. Enter HERE.

Note: Winners must provide a mailing address in Mexico to be eligible.


Are you looking for other ways to give the gift of reading? You can download bookmarks and bookplates for International Book Giving Day and include them in the books you give today! Take the time to read with a child today!

Be on the lookout for other ways to participate with the hastag #bookgivingday. Check out the official International Book Giving Day site and see if there are any events near you.



Filed under Book Reviews, Charities and Non-Profits in Mexico, Tourist Sites in Mexico

Overview of Travel MedEvac Insurance

Remember I mentioned that travel by ambulance isn’t a free service provided by the Red Cross? When my mother-in-law was in the hospital after being hit by a police officer driving excessively fast for no reason, she was taken to an IMSS hospital since she worked as a street cleaner for the presidencia (town hall). When I arrived, hours after the accident, she had not yet been seen by a doctor, although a nurse had bandaged her leg and taken x-rays. When the doctor finally arrived from Morelia (apparently there wasn’t a doctor on staff), he insisted that she be transported to the Regional Hospital that was better equipped to handle her injuries. The family had to arrange ambulance transportation because she was not in stable enough condition to be moved by other means. Our local Red Cross has the only ambulance in the area. The cost was not covered by IMSS. It took hours to make the arrangements. When she finally arrived at the hospital, she was admitted to ICU. Her spleen had been ruptured in the accident and she was bleeding internally.

The admitting doctor suggested she be transported to the hospital in Leon, GTO, a 4-hour drive. Again, there was the issue of ambulance transport to arrange. For some reason, the family member in charge would not sign off the transfer. My mother-in-law contracted a respiratory infection in the hospital and died.

So believe me when I say that the universal health care Mexico provides through Seguro Popular and IMSS may not be enough in some situations.

Today I’d like to highlight one insurance company’s policies for US and Canadian citizens while they are in Mexico in order to provide a baseline of what type of coverage to look for when purchasing additional insurance.Travel-MedEvac_728x90_r2

Travel MedEvac Insurance’s slogan is Medical Transport Home when the Unexpected Happens (which of course, nobody hopes for but unfortunately is a possibility).

The MedEvac insurance covers evacuation by air transport to a hospital of your choice in your home country (US or Canada) and transfer by air or ambulance to another hospital in Mexico as needed if you are medically unable to travel internationally. So in the event of injury or illness, MedEvac will make sure you are taken to a hospital, whether in Canada, US, or Mexico, that will be able to treat your condition. This is especially helpful if you are in a rural area in Mexico where the medical facilities are understaffed and lacking updated (or even functioning) equipment.

What about your family? Well, MedEvac offers transportation for a traveling companion, spouse, and dependents to the hospital where you been evacuated in your home country. If you are unable to be air-lifted out of Mexico, MedEvac provides transportation for your immediate family to the hospital where you are receiving treatment.

What about your stuff? MedEvac will transport your vehicle, RV, motorcycle, and watercraft from Mexico to your home country. If you are discharged but not able to drive, MedEvac will make sure your vehicle is returned to you in your home country.

What happens if you die? MedEvac will prepare your body for transport and complete the repatriation process up to $50,000 USD. This may include embalming or cremation, casket, and transportation.

So what are your options?

MedEvac offers daily and annual plans. Daily plans are good for up to 90 days in Mexico and best for vacationers, cruisers, business travelers, students, missionaries, church groups, timeshare owners, and volunteers who do not plan on staying more than 90 days in Mexico. There are plans available for groups of 10 with additional plans in increments of 10 at special group rates.

Annual plans are offered for both 6 month and 12 month periods. The Classic Plan covers you if you travel to Mexico several times a year but never longer than 90 days. The Extended-Stay Plan covers you if you live in Mexico part of the year but do not stay longer than the 180-day tourist visa limit. Either plan would work for Snowbirds and frequent travelers.

As of April 2018, a third policy has been added to MedEvac’s plans specially designed for expatriates that live in Mexico more than 180 days per year. In this situation, medical evacuation could include transfer to another hospital for treatment in Mexico rather than in your original country. If your stay is more than 2 days, traveling companions and dependents will be given transportation to their homes. If you are in the hospital for more than 7 days, MedEvac will provide for the transportation of a visitor for a single visit to your bedside.

There are some things to consider.

If you are older than 84 or have been advised by your doctor that you should not travel, you would not qualify for this type of insurance. It’s also important that your passport be current, otherwise, there may be complications in leaving Mexico or entering your home country.

Additionally, there are some situations where accident or injury would not be covered under MedEvac’s policies. If injuries are self-inflicted or sustained in a war zone, you wouldn’t be eligible. If you are injured while piloting your own plane or canyoneering, you wouldn’t be eligible. If you are traveling specifically to seek treatment whether or not medically necessary, you would not qualify for the plans above. (I’ll talk about Medical Tourism in another post.)

There are also some restrictions which you might need to take into consideration when living or traveling in Mexico. You might not be able to be evacuated from areas which the U.S. government has issued travel restrictions (See U. S. Travel Restrictions for Mexico) or areas where civil unrest or natural disaster has temporarily shut down air traffic.

So, as part of a comprehensive medical insurance program, travel insurance, like the policies offered by MedEvac might be something you should seriously consider.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. Please refer to the MedEvac’s page for current plans and prices, requirements and restrictions.Travel-MedEvac_728x90_r2



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Filed under Health, Safety and Security