I spend most of the year in Toronto. But once I stopped downhill skiing, winter lost its appeal. Several years ago we started to spend our winters in central Mexico, and because we want to have our car and dog (Lula– of course) for the four months that we’re there, I usually drive down and back accompanied by my friend and business partner, Chris Sanderson. The driving distance is 3,960 kilometers; 39 hours. With two border crossings, this usually translates to either four 10 hour driving days or five 8 hours days.
It’s interesting to note, and as you can see from the map above, the best route follows a Great Circle, because of the distance involved. The roads are Canadian, US and Mexican four-lane interstate highways for all except a handful of miles.
Because the drive is about getting there in a timely manner there’s very little opportunity for photography. Sometimes in the evenings we’ll walk around a town, but usually we just drive, eat, walk the dog, and sleep.
The following video covers the entire four and a half day drive. It was shot with aGenius Dash Cam, which costs about $125. The forty hours of footage generated some 140 Gigabytes of HD video. No one in their right mind would be interested in watching the whole thing, and that’s a bit more data than Vimeo or Youtube will accept.
So what you see below is the entire forty hours speeded up 40X, so that it last just one hour. We have also reduced the video from 1080/60P to 720P, and used very low bit rate compression. This brought it down to just under 1 GB on Vimeo, though the quality has obviously suffered as a consequence.
For obvious reasons, there is no sound track.
The driving speed is equivalent to 4,000 km / hour, or 2,500 mph
Whatever you do – don’t take this too seriously. It was just done on a lark.
When people hear that I drive back and forth to Mexico from Canada, and also drive extensively within Mexico for months at a time, I am often asked about personal safety. Here’s my experience based on having done this now for several years.
With the exception of border towns, and a few cities, personal safety in Mexico isn’t an issue. I feel safer walking the streets of San Miguel at night than I do near my home in downtown Toronto.
Driving has its concerns. Firstly, the border areas can be unsafe, and so our strategy is to get across the border and then head for a Mexican interstate as quickly as possible, without stops. This takes about an hour if one crosses at Laredo, TX. Once on a major highway in Mexico, the only danger is people trying to pass you at 200 km/h in their BMWs. (The speed limits on highways in Mexico are more honoured in the breach than the observance).
The one thing I don’t like doing is driving at night on rural roads in Mexico. Not because of bandits or anything like that, but because of stray donkeys and dogs.
Frankly, I feel safer most of the time driving in Mexico than when we drive our route in rural Oklahoma and Texas, where one needs to be careful not to piss-off someone with a gun rack on the back of their pick-up truck. I find these states perceptually a more dangerous place to drive than Mexico itself. Maybe it’s because I’m a Canadian; we don’t have guns in our cars, and neither do Mexicans (except for bad guys, but that’s the case everywhere in the world). Seeing a gun rack in the car next to me just creeps me out.