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Advice for Suzy driving to Tulum

I drove Texas to Tulum a few years ago.
Generally a great trip, Most mexicans are very helpful and friendly.
In Monterrey i got lost and got a 4 police car escort to the highway exit.

However, I have to recommend that you avoid Veracruz at all costs.
I was stopped four times by four different police offices coming into the city.
Each one trumped up some violation and tried to extort money for my crimes.
I’m sure it was the foreign plates and a corrupt municipal police force.

Make sure you have lots of pesos for the tolls as they often don’t accept credit cards.

Good luck!

austin tx

Sounds like a great adventure. You should buy a good shop/service manual (20 to 30$) at your local parts store. Bring a good set of tools.Sears has nice sets in plastic cases,(sockets,ratches, wrenches,plyers,ect., about 60 to 100$ check out the Christmas flyers great deals at this time of the year). Ask your German mechanic what would be a good choice. I think you need metric tools. If you and your dad couldn’t figure out the problem, you would have the info and tools for a mechanic to help you.

I am amazed that the first piece of advice wasn’t a couple of rolls of Duct Tape. You can fix almost anything with it.

The roads between the Texas-Mexico border are the territory of the drug cartels. Even Mexican citizens are not driving between McAllen and Monterrey. Too dangerous. Please check with the state department before you travel through the northern part of Mexico.

Suzy, I did a very similar trip myself in a 1986 VW Westfalia, traveling from Tijuana to the southern state of Oaxaca and back. Take the VW official factory repair manual and a Haynes manual with you. Mexican mechanics are pretty skilled when it comes to fixing VWs in general, but they’ll be better off if they can see exactly how to get at something. Make sure your belts are in good condition and take extra (they’re cheap and easy to store); Make sure your hoses are good, too. On my trip, the only thing that I needed to buy for a repair was a thermostat. Take a durable mat that you can slide under the car in case you need to go under the vehicle for a roadside repair. If anything, your mechanic will thank you.
Echoing earlier advice, make sure you have a good set of tools and an emergency kit - flashflight and road flares.
The bottled water is completely unnecessary. It’s easy to find good bottled water in Mexico. You’ll just be bringing along extra weight. Buy a good Guia Roji, the Mexican road atlas. Stay on the toll roads, but be prepared to pay. They’re pricey, but worth it. Get Mexican auto insurance at the border. Make sure your car registration is up to date. At one point, depending on which road you take, you’ll need to stop and pay a deposit to temporarily import your car. They’ll give you a sticker to verify you’ve done this. It’s handled by credit card. The credit only charges against your card if you don’t check out when you leave the country. The insurance agency should be able to explain this to you at the border. Have a tourist visa, you’ll need it to go into the interior of Mexico.
Your cell phone may not work there, especially in the northern stretches. You may want to invest in a Nextel walkie-talkie type phone if want to have it as a back-up. Drive during the day time. There will be lots of southbound traffic with Mexicans returning home for the holidays. You’ll see caravans and it’d be smart to travel with one of these caravans. At a rest stop, you could even introduce yourself to a family that is traveling the same route and you could keep an eye on each other.
I’d be happy to talk with you. I’ve done lots of traveling all across Mexico. If you want to connect with me, my email is

I have done this trip, 12,000 miles, in a school bus on my 40th birthday year. three thing you must have are duct tape, dental floss, fixed my wind shield wiper and a light with it, and toilet paper. bathrooms are not always equipped.

Good advice, but Suzy has probably been reminiscing about this trip for over a decade.

Why? Because all show calls are pulled from archives now. That’s been the case since some time in the fall. The general suspicion is that the last new calls were recorded in October or thereabouts. Tom and Ray are mostly “retired” from the show…sad to say. It does seem like they must be recording little bits here and there, the short announcements, credits, etc. Except for that, it’s all re-runs now.

Advice for the woman driving thru’ Mexico: Must buy Mex. car ins! I drove a 10-yo Sebring Conv. for 3 months, down & across Mex; best to stay on their toll-road freeways, about 8 cents/mile. Very safe! Do NOT listen to locals @ border, trying to sell her “car inspection services”, you must drive directly to Gov’t Import offices to “import” car; cost, about $40-50 for paperwork. Car ins. costs $400/6mos, mine had collision coverage. Buy Mex. cell phone @ border, US phone will cost $1/min! GPS was unavailable in '07, but worth looking at now if available! Drinking water can be bought everywhere; Corona beer is good substitute. Most large towns & small cities are like in the U.S. in the 50’s; good services. I had a high-speed blow-out middle of nowhere, on way to Guadalajara, swapped tire out; repair was cheap & good. CARRY $5 TIRE REPAIR KIT, & INFLATION CANISTER!

@Kevin Kiefer

As mentioned, Suzy probably completed this trip many years ago. This call, like every call you hear on the show from now on, was repeated from shows broadcast since the late 1980’s. I’d guess Suzy made her trip before the turn of the century.

I just heard the story about the vanagon through Mexico and am very concerned for that family’s safety. I lived in Mexico for 20 years. I made that trip from Reynosa to Tulum and Chetumal and back through Palenque BUT I wouldn’t do it now. Obviously she is not aware of the cartel battles in the state of Tamaulipas. The highway from Matamoros to Tampico is very desolate and extremely dangerous. My cousins from Veracruz state no longer take that road. They take a new highwaay that skirts Mexico City to Queretaro and comes north to Monterrey so I would suggest she enter Mexico through Laredo. It’s two hours from Monterrey. That main highway has a lot of military surveillance and would be a better choice. You cannot imagine the atrocities that are happening in Mexico at this time. If they want to go to Yucatan without risking their lives, they should take a plane to Can-cun and rent a car to visit Tulum. That in itself will be an adventure. Please have her contact me for more info. I live on the border with Reynosa in Hidalgo, Texas. I also have some good friends who owned a VW Vanagon until a tire blew out at 70 miles an hour and caused them to roll over. Thank God the three of them survived. I know he would suggest to get Michelin tires. I don’t really want to talk her out of it just recommend a safer route. I think it is a great idea for her to keep in touch with you guys at least twice a day. I wonder if there is a tracker she could put in her car so someone would always know of their whereabouts. Please share this message with her and my e-mail address. I am a retired teacher who lived in Puebla, Tampico and Reynosa from 1976 to 1997. My husband and I had plenty of wild adventures on Mexican roads and lived to tell them. Yes, there are green angels (mechanics) called Angeles Verdes in Mexico.

I should have read the previous comments before I posted this one. It turns out this was a very old re-run. I hope Suzy had a fabulous trip! In the late 1990’s it would have been quite safe. Did she ever write you guys about her adventures. I’d like to know how it went. Besides traveling to the Yucatan, we once made it to Guadalajara and then traveled north-northwest to Ensenada. We stopped traveling in Mexico after they found 60 bodies in San Fernando in 2009. Since then, it’s been one horror story after another. Since I live on the border and have friends in Mexico I have heard enough dreadful things to talk myself out of retiring in Mexico.

Hi you all, it’s me SUZY!
Wow what a group of brilliant folks I wish I knew…thanks for all the thoughts…I will print these and keep them in case I ever get to make a big trip again.
That was in 1997 or 1998…I DID carry too much water starting out and perhaps the weight contributed to a collapsed lifter and transmission problems.
The odd sounding engine had me stopping in every town looking for a mechanic between San Diego and Dallas.
I made it fine and saw some interesting shops in the back streets of El Paso and West TX.
In Dallas, ditched the car, hopped on the plane, did a heck of a lot of swimming and cooking fish over the campfire. Back in the day, Tulum was heaven and there were few gringos there. In the old days, it was a two lane dirt road for several hours of cramped bus rides…
So I’ve been going there since 1976 for just a few weeks a year…lots of changes.

What were your experiences in Tulum?

in 2008…

Anyway, one great thing that came out of my love affair with Tulum is that I adopted two dogs from the beach that were without owner and going to be killed …one was already paralyzed but he regained the use of his legs with rest and prednisone. He’s loyal and his sister is quite lovely looking dog. I am so lucky to have saved them.

I am still trying to find a safe place to live in the US with my dogs. …Tom and Ray…oh I love those guys and wish I could call for advice all the time.

Wow, quite an adventure, and some lucky dogs! Thanks for the update.

For a short while, there was another feature on the radio show which sounds like this thread. The segment was called something like “Where are they now, Tommy?”.

Suzy’s recent post seems like the ultimate in that vein… reporting in, here on the website in response to a thread referencing her call 14 years ago!

Very cool, Suzy! Hope you stick around here.


Have her put SYNTHETIC OIL in the transaxle. I had a semi, 10 speed, that was down to 6 usable gears. I took off the inspection plates, dug out about 2 pounds of gear teeth from the bottom of the transmission, sealed it back up and put Amsoil synthetic oil in. I got 3 more months out of it. When the mechanics took the inspection plates off they asked what I did to get it to work in that condition. They said it should have locked up LONG before then and had never seen a truck come in on it’s own power with a transmission that was that worn out. Synthetic will get them through