I am happy to report that traveling in a time of pandemic is still possible. We left Oaxaca City by car for San Miguel de Allende and had a beautiful seven-hour drive on the Arco del Norte to San Miguel. We found SMA to be basically the same as Oaxaca, regarding the virus: all restaurants and hotels were closed, but mostly everything else open.
We stayed with our dear friend Alice Dale Kimsey, the owner of Alice’s Palace B&B in downtown San Miguel, which is located right in front of the Plaza Civica.
I love to cook so we enjoyed a very nice dinner every evening. Alice’s Palace is only a block away from the best market in town, and the street leading to it has three or four butcher shops, an OXXO convenience store, a tortilleria and several other stores. I am very fond of what we refer to in the U.S. as pork tenderloin. In case anyone would like to know how to ask for that in Mexico, just ask for lomita de costilla de cerdo/puerco or filete de cerdo/puerco. The former is a much more descriptive way to request it. The Walmart meat department in Oaxaca frequently has it pre-packaged. It is not popular in Mexico because it does not have a lot of fat. That is exactly why I like it. Just marinate it in olive oil, garlic and herbs for a few hours and then roast in aluminum foil at 350 for an hour. All of its delicious juices in the aluminum foil can be used to spoon over the servings. I like to accompany it with garlic mashed potatoes.
We also found some really great recently-frozen gulf shrimp at the same butcher shop and made camarones al mojo de ajo. For me, one of the best things about this indescribably wonderful country is the availability of such high-quality fresh ingredients for cooking.
After a very enjoyable week in San Miguel we were off to Saltillo, just to rest one night before we drove to Reynosa. My partner stayed there for some personal business while I went on to Austin, Texas. We had no problems on the beautiful Highway 57 drive through northern Mexico. There was only one checkpoint from the state of Nuevo Leon into Tamaulipas where we were asked a couple of questions and our temperatures were taken.
Prior to our trip, I had investigated U.S. border crossings to better understand what was required. The U.S. Homeland Security webpage said only “essential” travel” was allowed, but that included U.S. citizens returning home, which was fine because I have a home in Austin, Texas.
I arrived at the border at the Anzalduas bridge to find things operating as usual. There were the usual hundreds of vehicles being waved through. No temperature checking and nothing but the usual questions: “Where have you been?” and “where are you headed?” If you ever cross between Reynosa, Tamaulipas and McAllen, Texas, I very much recommend the Anzalduas bridge. Much easier than going through the center of Reynosa.
Reynosa is a great town, by the way. It is very important for the success of the NAFTA agreement. The main activity in Reynosa is the maquiladora industry that provides a competitive edge for the U.S. companies operating there, as well as steady and quality employment with benefits for Mexican workers. Reynosa has every imaginable convenience, including many shopping centers, movie theaters and restaurants. The state of Tamaulipas, by the way, has many very beautiful and interesting destinations, such as Gomez Farias El Cielo nature preserve and the coastal community of La Pesca, where you can enjoy the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and sport fishing.
After two weeks in Austin and a few days in Dallas with family, I returned to Oaxaca by air and then left for Puerto Escondido in my trusty Jeep. It’s good to be home and healthy with the pandemic raging around us, especially after making a long journey.