After a long night with little sleep on the ferry across the Gulf of California, we had arrived in Mainland Mexico.
It was 9 am as we finally disembarked the boat. I was tired and it was already hot and humid… We weren’t in the best of moods after an arduous journey, and the local police were about to make things worse…
Here we were in the port of Topolobampo, the port outside of Los Mochis in the state of Sinaloa…
Most famous perhaps for the Sinaloa Cartel which is responsible for the bulk of the drug smuggling into the United States, untold violence throughout the region, and is considered “the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world”.
El Chapo, the Mexican Pablo Escobar, who has been in the news so much lately following his escape from prison, is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel… And here we were in Sinaloa.
Welcome to Mexico!
Despite the little sleep and overall tired feeling, we wanted to push on to Mazatlan that day, both because there isn’t much to see around Los Mochis and to get to a more touristy area within Sinaloa (there are definitely a ton of things to do in Mazatlan).
Unfortunately, it was about another 4-hour drive down the road.
More Encounters with Mexican Police
As we were rounding out of Los Mochis and about to hop on the freeway, we passed a cop car on the side of the road and I made sure to drive plenty slow and extra careful.
They pulled me over anyway.
After our experience with the cops in Cabo San Lucas and a general crankiness from the ferry crossing, lack of sleep, and still hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, I was pretty evasive and combative with them.
I asked why they pulled me over before I would comply with any of their questions (for my license and paperwork), to which they responded that they pull over all foreign plated vehicles to make sure they have the temporary import permit (that little decal sticker).
I’m not really sure how I could manage to cross the Gulf of California and board the ferry without it, but nevertheless, I pointed out the sticker to them a few times and kept telling them that was all they needed to see.
They insisted on seeing my drivers license as well, that it was part of the normal process.
I really didn’t want to (thanks to the cop that stole my license in Cabo) but finally relented when they wouldn’t budge.
I wouldn’t hand the license over to them though and kept it in my hand as I held it out the window. The officer gave it a cursory look and glanced at his partner who gave him the nod.
We were free to go.
Another half hour down the road we pulled off in the town of Gausave to try and find something to eat. I was starving at this point.
As we entered the town, guess what, another set of lights flashing behind me… I was getting pulled over again!
This time it was Transit Police and not the Municipal Police as had been my last two experiences (and the notoriously most corrupt).
The young guy was very informal and relaxed. I followed the same procedure—insist on knowing the infraction first (none) and then complying. He was pulling me over just to make sure everything was okay with our permit and everything was going fine for us.
He looked at my driver’s license and asked me about Washington, and then said that we hate Mexicans up there…
Huh? I was taken aback and told him no.
Later on, I came to the conclusion that he was confusing Washington (State) for Washington D.C. and the politicians, specifically Donald Trump who has been in the news so often lately taking bad about Mexico and the Mexican people.
Thanks, Trump! Your actions impact Americans south of the border as well.
The officer ended up giving us directions to a few restaurants where we could grab something to eat and let us on our way.
But after getting pulled over twice in less than an hour for literally doing nothing more than driving with a foreign plate, we were now on high alert for all the cop cars we passed. It became somewhat stressful.
First Tacos in Mainland Mexico
By now it was almost noon and we could find no breakfast. We ended up just sitting out at a taco joint for our first tacos (delicious cabeza de res) in Mainland Mexico.
It felt like we were a long way from home—even though we were just a short drive from the border with Arizona.
Nonetheless, we were committed to doing a house sit in Mexico City in a few weeks, so we were on our way.
We pushed on through the long morning though and made it to Mazatlan, where we could settle in, rest, and recover. And enjoy a few of the many things to do in Mazatlan — one of Mexico’s top destinations on the Pacific Coast.
Traveling to Mazatlan on your next trip? Book the perfect room on Booking.com today! Also, be sure to read more about why you need travel insurance for Mexico. I recommend World Nomads to protect yourself against illness, injury, and theft.
- Book a cheap flight to Mexico with Momondo, or better yet, start travel hacking so you can fly for free.
- Plan a rough itinerary and how long you will spend in each destination. Pick up Lonely Planet Mexico to help with this.
- Work every day to teach yourself Spanish, you want to know as much as possible before you arrive.
- Book your cheap accommodation in advance, at least for the first destinations -- For hostels use: Booking, for cheap hotels use: Hotels.com, for apartments use: Airbnb.
- Reserve your on the ground tours and activities through Get Your Guide.
- Purchase travel insurance for Mexico with World Nomads to protect yourself from illness, injury, and theft while in Mexico.
- Check out my comprehensive guide about traveling to Mexico with information on cities, things to do, places to see, and more.
- Learn more money saving tricks with my top budget travel tips if you want to get more bang for your buck.
- Put together your Mexico packing list.
- Enjoy this incredible country!
I hope this helped you plan your travels in Mexico! I know it can be a struggle to find accurate and on the ground information when traveling to a new place like Mexico, which is why I started writing so extensively about it!
If you have any questions about Mexico, budget travel, or anything else shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(I love getting questions! That is how I get ideas for my blog posts and what to write about!)
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