We really are on our way now - it is still hard to believe that we are doing this and that we have no address and definitive plan(s) for our future.
After a wonderful evening and night in Bracketville with Katie and Trent, we set out this morning well rested and well fed. Our first adventure was getting to the International Bridge at Eagle Pass, there was a parade in town and we had to take a couple of detours to get to the bridge. When we finally got there, we were in the wrong lane and had to go round the block again and join a queue to get in lane from the direction that we were now coming from - it was gridlock but when we finally paid our toll we crossed the bridge easily and went straight through the 'Nada de Declarar' line.
It was a very nice drive down to Saltillo and pretty uneventful - we decided not to stop for lunch because we had eaten plenty for breakfast. We were sure not to drink too much water so that we didn't have to start looking for toilets and the necessary 5 pesos for each of us but I did end up taking a bathroom break in the trees (which was better than most of the toilets we have used in Mexico in the past).
The next big adventure was finding our way to the hotel in Saltillo - oh those addresses, it is so difficult knowing what the address really is and we ended up going through a toll towards what we thought was the right exit for Saltillo and Torreon but found out that it was wrong somehow and it would be 110 km to drive round to where we wanted to go to in Saltillo. We found a turn around and headed back to the toll booths where we had to pay another toll to go back on to the same toll road that we had just come off (back towards towards Monterrey). She told us that we had to pay to pass but had to go back to the other side to go the way that we had originally been going (towards Torreon) - are you confused yet? So a security man blocked the road so that we could do a U turn to go back to the toll booth to head towards Torreon so we started explaining to the Torreon direction toll booth lady what had happened and showed her the address of the hotel and she told us .. you have got it .. that hotel was in Saltillo back towards Monterrey. She was nice enough to call the other lady over because she spoke more English and between pigeon English and our pigeon Spanish, we finally got the message about where we need to go to find the hotel. By now, the toll road to Saltillo-Torreon was down to a single lane with quite a queue building up. The Security man directing all traffic in our lane over to the right hand lane and eventually got us everything positioned so that we could back out and be directed across oncoming traffic and be on our way back to Saltillo-Monterey. When we got to the town, it was just a couple more detours until we found ourselves on the correct road - now it was easy .. but we couldn't see the hotel as we approached it and ended up stopping at the exit gate which we couldn't enter through - here we go, another mile or so down the road we managed to find a retorno (similar to a Texas turn-around) and head back to pass the hotel on the other side of the road so that we could get another retorno and get back on the side of the road that the hotel was on - we made it ! Hot (high 90s most of the day, high was 98F), tired, just a little bit irritable but relieved, I checked into the hotel where another 'mistake' occurred. Gerald was moving the car to a safer place away from the road and near to the entrance while I was checking in - he handed me his credit card and I was good to go. A bit more broken Spanish by me and I was checking us in, was asked for the credit card and thought that I was good especially since Gerald got back just in time to sign for his card (mine was tucked away somewhere in all those bags etc.). As I walked away to help Gerald bring out bags in, the receptionist called me back and said that there was a problem with the credit card .. I did manage to figure out what this was about and why he wanted Gerald's card again .. I had booked the hotel with my card and the charge has gone through so he needed Gerald's card so that he could run a credit through.
Now we needed to find somewhere to eat and there did not appear to be much around here as it is an industrial zone (really nice hotel, not so nice area, very nice price). I spent some frustrating time researching online for somewhere to eat and eventually gave up - it was all too difficult and we were tired so Gerald went to the car and got a can of soup (OK, another time he will never let me forget the fact that I said that we are forcing too much stuff into the car and that we actually needed something). Another conversation with the receptionist and he got someone to go to the kitchen (they only serve breakfast here, no room service, no restaurant) and our request of 'tazones y cucharras' (bowls and spoons) was magically fulfilled. We used the microwave in the snack shop next to reception to heat our soup .. now we have comfortable bellies and sleep is looking like a more viable option and we are really looking forward to a hot breakfast in the morning before setting out for Durango which is about 6 hours away from here.
Ah yes, the final piece to today's adventure, while travelling we noticed that the time on the GPS and the time on our Mexican cell phone were different and we were debating about when/where/if we had crossed into a different time zone. I took a quick look at our current time zone online and found out that the clocks haven't changed here yet and they actually change tonight so tomorrow we will actually be on the same time as when we left San Antonio.
Lessons learned today: If the directions seem to be going the wrong direction, ask why. Put Google translate on the home screen of the new phone and know where the speak button is so you can have someone just speak into it for translation (instead of fumbling around trying to find it while holding up traffic!). Be gracious and patient and try your best with your limited Spanish and so far there has always been some one willing to help! Mucho Gracias mis amigos!
Goodnight .. getting ready to dream of more adventures tomorrow. And back to the Mexican Spanish lessons!