Journey to Mexico
April 15-23, 2002

Blair Kooistra; Fort Worth, Texas
© 2002 Blair Kooistra

Nearly two years after our marriage, my wife Mary and I finally journeyed to Mexico to visit her hometown, meet her family, and show off our year-old son, Eliot. We would have made it earlier, but due to provisions in US immigration law regarding pending green card applications, Mary was pretty much a "prisoner" in the US until her status change was approved. We held off until the spring of 2002 to make the trip to avoid the high temperatures of summer in the deserts of Coahuila state.

This was my first visit to Mexico, and I'm glad that my first trip wasn't to some resort town created expressly for American tourists and Mexican in name only. I really wasn't too sure what to expect, as my idea of what Mexican life is really like was colored by my own prejudices and stereotypes from living in Texas, where we have virtually no contact with the Mexican middle class. Most of us only really know Mexico through those who've come north to work as landscapers, construction laborers, and housekeepers at low wages in order to better the economic lives of their families back home.

Of course, I'm interested in Mexican railroads, too, but there's been little written on the subject that's readily accessible. My internet contact with Mexican railfans leads me to believe they're more interested in museums, preservation and steam locomotives than the "photography" driven American ran. And talk about stereotypes--it's easy to still imagine Mexico as a place where cabooses still follow behind freight trains staffed with inordinately large crews, where trains are dispatched using telegraph and train orders, where passenger trains are still a way of daily life, and where Alcos and old GE locomotives are still earning their keep.

The months leading to our "big adventure" fell away. The promise I'd made to myself to break out that Spanish language course my sister deeded to me never was fulfilled. Suddenly, April 15--Tax Day--was looming, and with it our departure. I was more excited than nervous. Mary was more nervous than excited. I was looking forward to not knowing what to expect; she was nervous about seeing her family again. We'd packed our little Honda CR-V to the roof: two cases of bottled water (purchased from discount retailer CostCo, but, to our dismay, we discovered was nothing more than the same putrid "Fort Worth Municipal Water Supply" stuff we try to avoid drinking at home--but the CostCo stuff had "minerals added for flavor"!) a bottle of Pepto-Bismol and some Immodium A-D--just in case the dreaded "Turista" decided to strike. For our 15-month old son Eliot, we brought plenty of formula mix and applesauce and canned fruit, lots of diapers and wipes. We brought an extra CD player and a new VCR to give her family, as such items are inordinately expensive down south. We had a box of Christmas presents we never got around to sending. And we had a few maps, a box of CD's, and digital, film and video cameras.

April 15, Monday
April 16, Tuesday
April 17, Wednesday
April 18, Thursday
April 19, Friday
April 20, Saturday
April 21, Sunday
April 22, Monday