Veracruz, Mexico (No. IV)

Yesterday we were a little bit shopping and Domi bought himself a new hat. We asked for the biggest size but the one we got was still too small until the seller reshaped it. In the following you can get more impressions of the metropolis on the Gulf of Mexico.


Veracruz, Mexico (No. III)

More images from Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico as we’re staying here until February 8 while Herbie’s getting shipped to another part of Latin America: Cartagena, Colombia.

Shipping Delay No. 2

Herbie’s ship, the “Global Leader”, got another delay. This is quite frustrating!

Every day of traveling is like meeting a new challenge. You have to go through it, because there is no other way out. Therefore we are still in Veracruz waiting for the vessel’s departure. But we’ll go by plane to Cartagena, Columbia, on February 8, in order to pick up “Ocho” three days later. Hopefully there will be no further delay.

Veracruz, Mexico (No. II)

Herbie is still “sitting on the dock of the bay”, waiting for his ship going to Colombia.
Domi took another walk through town and got some more shots of Veracruz for you.

Veracruz, Mexico (No. I)

As we’ll be in Veracruz until February 8, we have the perfect possibility to explore this city. Therefore we want to share with you our impressions. This is just the first part of it.

Goodbye, Herbie!

Today we had to say “good-bye” to Herbie. Even though not all bureaucratic requirements are conformed yet, we already brought our beloved Volkswagen to the port. We are sorry that we can’t post any last pictures of “Ocho” before he is going to be on his way to South America. Domi wanted to take at least one shot so badly. He literally begged for the allowance to get some photos but it was strictly prohibited by the port executives.

It was an exhausting day for both of us. We didn’t expect that we’ll have to deliver the vehicle today, so we were not prepared at all. We had two hours to get the car ready to go. Later on, when we arrived at the harbor, they told us that one of us has to leave before entering the area. Only one person is supposed to drive the car into the port. Finding a taxi outside the city is not an easy task but we were lucky. After about ten minutes we got one and Zainab was on her way back to the hotel.

After passing several check points Herbie and Domi finally reached their destination. Our Number 53 ended up parking just besides three other air-cooled classic cars (Fiat 500, Fiat 600 and Citroën 2CV) and a Mini Cooper as well as hundreds of brand new Japanese vehicles which are all supposed to be shipped overseas.

Place of Twenty Waters

We visited another archeological site of a Mesoamerican city just outside of Veracruz. It is called Cempoala which would stand for the “place of twenty waters”.

It perhaps got its name because the city, which was founded in AD 1,200, had many aqueducts and irrigation channels.

In the past it was one of the biggest cities on the Gulf of Mexico with about 30,000 inhabitants and was the capital of the Kingdom of Totonacapan.

When the Spanish came in 1519 reaching the mainland of America, the Totonacs got the first ally with the well-known conqueror and colonizer Hernán Cortés.

The truth is, that the people of Totonacapan were heavily taxed by the Spanish. They were even forced to send hundreds of people as a tribute for sacrifices and as slaves.

However the leader of the Totonacs named “Quauhtlaebana” tried to cement the so-called alliance in giving one of his daughters as a kind of gift to Cortés.

It is hard to think about that Europeans “invaded” these countries in a very brutal way in order to expand the Empire and missionize native American people.

Shipping Delay

Unfortunately our ship, named “Global Leader”, is delayed. It was supposed to arrive in Veracruz on January 29 in order to leave the port on the following day. They changed the schedules and the vessel will now depart on February 2. It will reach Cartagena, Colombia, eight days later, on February 10.

Jalisco, Mexico (2010)

While Herbie will be on a cruise across the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean we’ll fly down to Colombia. After we picked up “Ocho” again, we’re planning to follow the Pan-American Highway through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica (2010)

We already made a long stretch of the so-called “Panamericana” with Herbie and the camper in tow crossing Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize and all the way back to the USA in 2010 and 2011.

In front of a volcano in El Salvador (2010)

The Place of the Rain

Quiahuiztlan, also known as “the place of the rain”, is a spot where people of the Totonac affiliation used to live. Later on a Spanish settlement was established here.

As a defensive strategy the city was built on a hill where they used terraces to avoid the soil to slide down. Additionally they introduced big walls as another defensive tool.

Nevertheless this strategy was not really successful. Between AD 800 and 900 the Toltecs invaded Quiahuiztlan and subjugated its inhabitants.

In the beginning of the 13th century the Aztecs also conquered the city. It is also famous due the fact that the Spanish conquerors lived just nearby in the lowlands.

This place was also called “Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz” and it is considered as the first settlement of the Spanish. Even an alliance with the Europeans was set.

On these pictures you can see mausoleum style tombs. Those tombs have the shape of miniature temples and they were unique in ancient Mexico.

Herbie and we are staying in the old center of Veracruz which is also very close to the port and where “Ocho” has to be shipped to Colombia in South America.

The Gulf of Mexico

Today we finally reached our destination: Veracruz.

On our way down along the coast we took some photos with Herbie.

The Gulf of Mexico provides many breathtaking spots.

Coco palm trees and banana plants wherever you go.

Yesterday we stayed at a very nice hotel at a beach of Costa Esmeralda.

We made 2,500 miles (or 4,000 kilometers) of driving through the US and Mexico.

The Love Bug was doing very, very well. A perfect gas mileage and just one quart (one liter) of motor oil (fully synthetic 15W-50) for the entire trip through Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. Herbie and his 34 horses are continuing their tour all around the earth.

Herbie’s World Heritage

Today we visited the archeological site El Tajín – an ancient Hispanic city in Mexico.

It is located just besides Papantla de Olarte in the state of Veracruz.

We enjoyed walking around in that huge area with different kinds of pyramids.

Tajín was one of the most important cities in the Classic era of Mesoamerica.

The best-known monument in El Tajín is the Pyramid of Niches.

Nowadays Tajín is a World Heritage site inscribed by the UNESCO in 1992.

The city flourished from AD 600 to 1200. It was discovered in 1785.

It’s getting hot in here…

We are almost there! Tomorrow we’ll probably reach Veracruz. It’s getting pretty warm as we are heading further South. But unfortunately also the humidity is climbing.

We prefer dry regions but it is great to have a kind of summer all year long on our travels. Domi uses to say “Zainab is a desert child. She was raised in Egypt and the UAE and can adopt to hot climate very well.” Domi himself can’t stand humidity at all but he is doing pretty fine with dry heat.

Gas is very low priced in Mexico, the quality is at least as good as in the US (according to Domi’s expertise) and you can find a pump wherever you go. All stations are owned by state and therefore the price is regulated. At the time a liter costs 9.82 Mexican Pesos (75 US Cent or 58 Euro Cent) all over the country.

Above you can see the good example for a traditional daily driver in Mexico. Although this “Vocho” is just from the 90ies the rust is doing its job (see left rear fender). Maybe that’s the reason why Herbie and Domi don’t like humidity.

The view from the balcony of our hotel room is all green if you blind out the main highway in front of the hotel. It is the first day that we turned on the a/c in our room. And Herbie is just air-cooled, so neither the engine nor we got a water-cooled system while driving through the heat.

Tomorrow we’ll follow again Highway No. 180 further South towards the coast line. Consequently we’ll hit the Gulf of Mexico where Herbie is supposed to go across by ship. Estimated time of departure in Veracruz is January 30. And the vessel should be in Cartagena, Colombia, by February 6.

Leave your Guns at Home

Today we crossed the Mexican border in Brownsville, Texas, entering the city of Matamoros in Tamaulipas. Mexico is a federation of 31 free and sovereign states. Tamaulipas is one of them.

This country is known for one of the strictest gun laws on earth. Therefore it is illegal to carry firearms while crossing the border. Although more than 95 % of guns used in Mexico came originally from the United States. There is probably always a song of Johnny Cash coming to Domi’s mind. This time it would be “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” from 1958. Every year thousands of people die here because of the existence of firearms, especially within the war on drugs.

After spending more than two hours with the Mexican customs at the border we finally got our permission to enter the country.

Both permits (for the vehicle and for us) are valid for six months, although we’ll travel on to Colombia after leaving Veracruz – Herbie by boat and we by an airplane.

Our “Vochito”, how they call Volkswagen Beetles down here, is feeling pretty well after noticing so many others like him. In Puebla, Mexico, the VW Bug was officially produced until 2003. The main reason why they stopped the production was a new Mexican law which prohibits (new) taxis without doors in the back. Taxi companies were the most important subscribers of those Volkswagens. But still you can see many of them within the city limits. The Volkswagen Beetle taxi got the status of an icon for many Mexican cities.

It was a much shorter trip today than on the days before. Border crossings are in general very exhausting. After having so many of them while traveling the world, borders are getting quite annoying for us. Tonight we’re staying in a little town named Soto La Marina on Highway 180 South.

Brownsville, Texas

It was getting more and more tropical as we were heading South on Highway 77 after passing San Antonio and getting off Interstate No. 10.

We took a break at the very last public rest stop just right after the small village named Sarita, Texas, for having coffee with dates as usual.

Herbie is doing well after making about 1,800 miles (or 2,900 kilometers) since leaving our camp in Ridgecrest, California. Meanwhile we got almost 78,000 miles (125,500 kilometers) touring in Herbie around the world.

Tonight we stay at the historic “Plaza Square Motel” in the heart of Brownsville, Texas. This well known border city is located just besides the Mexican town Matamoros in Tamaulipas. Tomorrow we’ll finally cross the border to Mexico heading further South towards Veracruz where “Ocho” is supposed to get on a ship to Colombia, South America.

Don’t mess with Texas

We had beautiful weather and a big blue sky accompanying us while touring on freeway 10 further East. Unfortunately we got a pretty strong head wind too, so the gas mileage was not as good as it used to be.

We took one of our breaks from driving at a rest stop just right before Sonora, Texas.

Even though we’re not pulling our camper “QEK Junior” this time, Domi insisted to carry the propane stove with us. So we are able to have our daily coffee.

Sometimes it feels weird to be at a public rest area just for having a short break. Normally we’d stay there with our trailer for a longer period of time or even the night.

Texan rest areas provide free wireless internet access which we find is great. It should help fighting driver’s fatigue. In Australia as an other example, many gas stations offer free hot coffee or tea instead, funded by the government for the very same reason.

Today we made it to Kerrville, staying at a huge motel complex. Tomorrow will be probably our last day in Texas. We’re planning to drive via San Antonio (which is actually one of our most favorite cities within the US) down to Brownsville in order to cross the Mexican border by Thursday.

Herbie’s Land of Enchantment

Last night was still pretty rainy. We got it warm inside our nice little apartment at the motel in Benson, Arizona, but Herbie was left alone outside.

Our overnight stay in Arizona was great. The owner of our room told us that he bought such a brand new Volkswagen Beetle in 1956 and drove it for many, many years. We were philosophizing about the reliability of such cars. Domi had a blast!

Sometimes you have to improvise: We wanted to have another coffee but there was just one filter which we had already used. So Domi took a piece of cotton fabric instead which he would normally take for polishing Herbie. Finally we got more fresh brewed coffee.

Afterwards we headed off further South East on Interstate No. 10 – the so-called “Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway” towards New Mexico.

We passed the Grand Canyon State Arizona and reached one of our favorite states of the United States: New Mexico – The Land of Enchantment.

The weather was getting much better now but instead we got very gusty dust winds from the side and it was hard to stay in our lane.

Domi has always been the driver of Herbie’s World Tour. Zainab would love to drive too but there was no time to get her driver’s license yet.

Without the camper in tow it is much easier to go fast on Americas freeways. On the speed indicator above you see of course kilometers and not miles per hour.

After more than 360 miles (or almost 600 kilometers) we got to Van Horn after crossing the border to Texas and driving through El Paso – just besides Ciudad Juárez.

“Ocho” found one of his million brothers – lying in a front yard of a local art store.

Although the car was obviously not running anymore it was great to see a VW again.

“Value Inn” is the place we’re staying for the night. We enjoy the luxury of a warm shower, a heater, wireless internet and a parking space for Herbie just outside our door.

It is very common to have a TV in the motel room. So do we have here, but we’re normally not watching any programs. More important is an internet access to keep you posted.

This night we got room 108. Herbie is unfortunately not housebroken yet and has to wait outside for us. But we always keep an eye on him by looking out the window.

Tomorrow we’re going to head further East on I-10 through the second largest state of the US. Texas, the Lone Star State, has also the second biggest population among all 50 United States of America.

A Kickass Trip

We were thrilled to found us among “the world’s greatest collection of unconventional, crazy and original travels and journeys that kick ass”. You can find it by following Kickass Trips (or clicking on the image below).

Today we made again about 300 miles (or 500 kilometers) by driving all the way on I-10 heading East passing Phoenix and Tucson. We stopped for shopping in both cities and ended up further down in Benson where we are staying at very nice old fashioned motel called “Quarter Horse” owned by Dan and Pat Barrera. Yesterday we had quite a different choice regarding our overnight stay in Blythe, California.

According to the calling card of our motel we stayed in, the TVs are all new and the rooms newly remodeled.

Honestly we haven’t seen such an old TV for years but it worked and even had color.

We got room number 115. Although people were knocking on our door and a strange couple were outside just yelling the whole day long at each other in a very bad language, still we slept tight and the Love Bug was not stolen.

Maybe we are just not used to staying at motels but we never felt so unsecure regarding our beloved car Herbie as there is no camper where we are in, able to feel every impact on the vehicles.

For tomorrow we’re planning to drive across New Mexico towards El Paso, Texas. Today we had a bit of rain, so hopefully we’ll get better weather for the next days driving across North America in our “Vee Dub”.

Hitting I-10 in Southern California

We started at six o’clock in the morning driving South on Highway 395. On our way down we met an old guy with his motorhome and a Volkswagen Bug in tow at a gas station.

What you can see here is very common for the US – the motorhome is pulling a car. Europeans would normally pull a camper with their car. Here it can be the other way round. The reason for having a car in tow is to use it whenever they stop for a longer period of time in order to save gas and to be more flexible.

His Beetle was probably from 1967, Domi guesses, because it had the small tail lights and the round bumpers but already the modern head lights. Anyway it was in a great shape!

We took our first brake for lunch at a rest area on Interstate 10 close to Beaumont. In the back you can see those white busses. There were all together five of them, packed with young US Army servicemen stopping for using the bathroom. Domi didn’t want to wait in an endless line of soldiers for going there so he went simply outdoors.

Later on we stopped for a coffee (with of course dates and almond butter) at the very last rest area in Southern California on I-10. Although we are not towing our camper this time we’re carrying a propane stove with us so we can brew our own coffee.

After 300 miles (almost 500 kilometers) on the road we stopped at a little motel in Blythe, California, for the night. Tomorrow we’ll be back on I-10 going through Arizona. We’ll pass big cities like Phoenix (Arizona’s capital) and Tucson.

Herbie Rides Again

Tomorrow, Saturday, we’ll leave Ridgecrest early in the morning heading East through the entire Southwest of the USA and Mexico in order to ship Herbie from Veracruz to Colombia, South America. Down there we want to follow the so-called Pan-American Highway to very bottom of Chile.

We’ll try to keep you posted while we are on the road exploring another part of this world in our Volkswagen Beetle from 1963. Just 34 horses will hopefully lead us across continent number five on our trip around the globe. We made so far more than 76,000 miles (122,000 kilometers). You can always find the current total mileage and our location on the right side of this page.

We hope everything goes well and we return to North America safely!

Zainsational Music

Music has always been a good companion on our journey around the
world. Beside Zainab’s love for playing the Arabic lute she also likes
singing songs. Underneath you can find one of those cover songs.

Domi & Cash

While Zainab sticks to her Arabic lute, Domi enjoys to play some chords on his guitar called “Cash” – named after his probably greatest American idol Johnny Cash.

Domi is not only into songs of John R. Cash, he also likes reading books about the “Man in Black”. One of the books below we found for just one Dollar in a small thrift store in Los Angeles.

Herbie’s Honky-Tonk

The Love Bug is able to honk again. A loud horn is for sure one of the most important features while touring the world in a small car.

For just a couple bucks you can get all different kinds of universal horns in automotive stores. Domi decided to buy an extra loud low tone horn.

Underneath you can see our the old horn which didn’t work well anymore after honking our way through Europe, Asia, Australia, North and Middle America.

The Arabian Oud

Zainab has a great passion for music. She loves to write her own songs and to play her Arabic lute (“Oud”) every day. Thanks to her dear friend Moustafa she was able to learn playing this wonderful instrument. On our travels Zainab carries her beloved Oud always with her.

Zainab with her Oud in Searles Valley, California

Friends from the Past

Herbie found his new owner Domi in 2006. At that time he was a member of the VW Bug Club of Vienna (“Käferclub Wien”) which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore.

But what luckily lasts are all the so important friends we got to know in those years. Today our Love Bug is member of the air-cooled community DLV (“Die Luftverkühlten”).