After a long journey across America, we came back west and spent some time with family prior to crossing the border into Mexico. We thought the day would never come. We spent an entire month at my brother’s house in Arizona, bought a grocery getter and had some much-needed engine work done. After the shop had the Ambulance for a month, I was terrified it was going to break the bank. When John handed me the bill, I was shocked. I gave a little chuckle and said “seriously, that’s all?” He said he’d be more than happy to charge me more, but they weren’t in the business of ripping people off. They gave us an itemized list of all the work performed, and with them pulling out the engine and fixing cracked heads (anyone who’s ever had cracked heads knows they’re VERY expensive to replace) and deleting the EGR, putting in a new coolant filter, replacing the turbo lines (even though we had them replaced prior to this they didn’t come with the flange that it needed to prevent the lines from blowing off) to get the ones that came with the flange. They flushed the engine over 5 times to get the casting sand out of the engine. The guys were amazed at how much casting sand was still in the engine after we already had a ton of engine work done already. They actually were embarrassed that other diesel mechanics didn’t notice any of the other problems that they did after driving it. They expressly told us that any good diesel mechanic should have noticed certain elements which were causing all of our engine and turbo problems to begin with.
With no particular time frame to cross the border, I was more than happy to leave Ambulicious with them for a month and get all the necessary work done properly. We came out with a bill of roughly $5600. I was very pleased, to say the least. If only we had done that sooner, it could have saved us another $12K plus hotel rooms.
We finally picked up the ambulance January 25 and drove it a few miles, had some issues which the mechanic came out to fix on the side of the road and sent us on our way. We spent an additional week in Arizona driving the rig around just to make sure the engine was solid. We got the windows tinted and headed out the next day. We finally crossed the border in Calexico on January 31.
The border crossing didn’t take too long. I went in and got our Visa’s while Bronson was out with the Border Agents having the vehicle inspected. They noticed the world map on the side and were instantly more interested in our trip than inspecting the ambulance. They even took pictures of themselves with Ambulicious. Within half an hour we had our Visa’s secured for 6 months and our vehicle inspected and given the all clear. It was probably the easiest border crossing/Customs I’ve ever had to go through. The Visa’s were $30 USD each, they didn’t require any paperwork for our dog, even though everything I read online said you had to have a health certificate and proof of vaccinations and it was required to have within 10 days of crossing the border.
There were also numerous people who said there were vets everywhere that could give a health screening for your dog at the border. Well, just so you know, NOT IN CALEXICO! But make sure you make an appointment at least a week in advance whichever border you decide to cross. Most vets will be booked up and are found in El Centro (7 miles north west of Calexico) if you’re crossing in Calexico. I don’t know if this is the case for all border crossings, but it sure was in Calexico. You’ll even find that Petsmart’s that have pet clinics will usually have a doctor that can do the screening, but there isn’t one near Calexico with a clinic.
After crossing the border, we traveled through Mexicali and were surprised at how well marked the roads were directing you to the next major town or city. They were simple signs and easy to see. Some of the merging lanes though were a bit confusing to navigate. I was thankful we only have 21 feet end to end that we have to navigate with. The streets and lanes get narrow and I have to wonder how Class A and 5thwheel vehicles maneuver through these roads.
We continued to San Felipe and got in just a couple hours after crossing the border. We stopped in at an Oxxo store and picked up Mexico Telcel sim cards and switched out our Verizon sim cards so we didn’t have to worry about internet service and over charges and the headache of a huge bill from Verizon, even though they claim to have an international plan, it never works for us. I’ve tried in many different countries and I didn’t want to pay $5.00 per day per phone for our phones. That would have been very expensive, an additional $450/month! No thanks.
The setup was really easy, but I speak a little Spanish, so I understood the instructions. We recharged the sim cards and in total for three phones, spent $75 for a month of unlimited calls, texts and social media and 30 gigabytes of data. This has been really helpful since Kaden’s schooling is all online. We headed over to Kiki’s RV park and got in a little before dusk. We got the last camp spot and set up for the evening.