I woke up in Corpus Christi, feeling refreshed and ready to go. Although I was dying for a cup of coffee, I decided to forego the time it would take to brew a pot in the room. Since I was a day ahead of schedule, I wanted to drive downtown and see the beach.
I never found the beach and I was not impressed with the city at all. Since I had stayed at the beginning of town, I had quite a drive to try to reach the beach and/or Padre Island. So past the huge refinery that dominates the landscape and skyline and on into the city freeway system. And what a system. Overpasses that are 4 lanes on top of each other and crisscrosses everywhere. Very confusing. I had picked up a city map at the hotel desk but it was of little help. I drove 36 miles and 45 minutes and never did find the turnoff for the beach. Feeling frustrated, disappointed and disgusted, I turned the Jeep back to the road taking me out of the city. And I never had a cup of coffee either!
Leaving Hwy 35 behind finally, I entered onto Hwy 77 which runs from Corpus Christi to Brownsville, TX, I again spotted the golden arches and treated myself to a much needed large cup of coffee. Hwy 77 is a divided highway and stretches for over a hundred hot miles to Brownsville. There was only one rest stop along the way and it was a repeat of the ones I have already described in Texas. Right down to the snake sign! The tile mosaic was interesting. Cowboys in bright red boots! Must have been formal cowboy wear because I never saw any red booted cowboys in real life!
My plan was to stop in Brownsville. I was not due to meet Jaimie in Matamoras until the next day, Wednesday, April 21. Jaimie is a Mexican friend from the island who speaks very good English. With a few exceptions which I will detail later! I had bought him an airplane ticket from Cancun to Matamoras and the plan was for him to drive with me, help navigate and translate along the was as needed.
Entering into the outskirts of Brownsville, I was watching for an exit that said downtown or business district. I passed several exits with street names but nothing for a downtown exit. I figured that I would have the best chance of finding hotels in the downtown area. So I kept driving. Suddenly, and without any kind of warning whatsoever, I rounded a curved hill and was deposited squarely at the Mexico border! No place to turn around, no exit, nowhere to go but over the bridge over the Rio Grand. The Rio Grand is just a wide, muddy stream at this point. I was flabbergasted and surprised to say the least. With no other choice in front of me, over the bridge I went. I thought perhaps there would be a sign on the other side the bridge that said “Made a mistake? Don’t really want to be here? Turn around and go back to the USA here.” No such luck. I was not mentally ready to be in Mexico yet and I certainly was not prepared to have the Jeep searched. I needed to organize! All of my papers and documents were still in storage somewhere on the back seat and not easily available. But I decided that I was here now, and since I saw no way out, I might just as well cross now and get it over with.
I had wanted to fill up the Jeep with gas before I crossed since gas is cheaper in the USA. Oh well, I still had half a tank of gas but I had not yet filled the five gallon Jerry can I was carrying on the spare tire.