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Column 010912 Wall

Monday, January 9, 2012

Our Annual Family Visit to Mexico at Christmastime

By Allan Wall

As we have for the past several years, my family and I traveled to Mexico for Christmas.

I formerly resided in Mexico, for a decade and a half.  It's where I met and married my wife, and where our children were born.

When we lived in Mexico we would come to the U.S. at Christmastime.  However, since we moved to the U.S. in 2008, it's been only natural for us to go back to Mexico for Christmas (that's Navidad in Spanish).

This year, we didn't take our usual route to the U.S.-Mexico border.  I have a cousin who was getting married in a certain metropolitan area in the U.S., so we combined the trip to the wedding and the Christmas trip to Mexico.  After the wedding and a few days of sightseeing we headed through several U.S. states on our way to Mexico.

Things were going fine until, passing through a border state, our car broke down.  The engine was running, but the transmission wasn't.  Was it a minor problem, or was the transmission ruined?  The latter possibility was not a pleasant thought.

The good thing is we found a reliable mechanic.  However, given the fact that it was just a few days before Christmas and things were about to shut down for a few days, it was not possible to get the car fixed until after Christmas.  And we were planning to be in Mexico for Christmas.

So, we left our automobile in the shop and proceeded on our way by bus, travelling to the border and crossing it.  That bus took us to the Mexican side of the border.  Thence we took another bus to a major Mexican metropolitan area.  Upon arrival, we encountered a jam-packed bus station.  From there we took yet another bus, which took us to the city we were going to.

And so, it was December 24th when we finally arrived in the metropolitan area where we formerly resided and where my wife's parents still reside.  Thus we were able to attend the annual Christmas dinner in the house of my wife's aunt, traditionally held the night of the 24th (the Nochebuena, Christmas Eve, or literally "Good Night" in Spanish).

We stayed in Mexico a week after Christmas and our two boys were able to spend a lot of time with their grandparents.

I accompanied my wife one day to an office of the IFE, the Mexican electoral bureaucracy.  There she obtained her new Mexican voter registration card, which is good until 2021.  The Mexican voter registration system is an impressive one.  In my opinion, it's better than the slipshod voter registration system in use in many U.S. states.

We would do well to emulate Mexico's system.  Each Mexican voter has a voter ID with a photograph, supplied by the government.  In the polling station, poll workers have a book with the photograph of each voter in the precinct.

Also, Mexico doesn't allow same day registration.  Far from it.  Mexico's presidential election is scheduled for July 1st of this year, 2012.  However, if a Mexican citizen isn't registered by January 15th he or she cannot vote in the election in July.  That's fair, and I saw a TV advertisement pointing out the deadline to viewers.

The highly-publicized violence in Mexico is nothing to take lightly, and we were careful.    However, it's not like a shooting gallery 24/7 as some might imagine it.  Mexicans have to get on with their lives.  And there was a lot of commerce going on.  My wife and I went to a Soriana store (see "Mexico's Soriana Stores - A True Success Story") on Christmas Day and there were other customers there besides us, even on that date.

We spent the week after Christmas in Mexico, and departed on a bus in early January.  The border crossing took about 7 hours.  That's because the bus lane was moving so slow, with so many buses carrying Mexicans who reside in the U.S. back across the border after their vacations.  After crossing the border, we were able to stay on the same bus and ride to the city where we'd left our car.  After we arrived there we were able to pick up our now-repaired automobile (the torque converter had been the problem) and proceed upon our merry way, homeward bound.

The night we finally returned home, our dog (Pimienta, Spanish for pepper) was glad to receive us.

We had returned safely from another trip to Mexico.


Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at

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