nerve-wracking operations "Austrian Extraction"

How to get out of Mexico

“Listen,” whispered Nina. I listened. Wood crackled in the campfire in front of us, a couple of crickets greeted the night, and every now and then it rustled in the undergrowth. I heard the usual music of the forest, and when I looked up, millions of stars lit up the night sky. It was one of those moon-free nights in the middle of the Sierra Nevada in California. We had set up our camp in the middle of nowhere next to a stunning lake. “I don’t hear anything,” I replied almost a minute later. I could see Nina’s satisfied smile in the light of our campfire. “Exactly,” she says.

"A long time ago, in a galaxy country far, far away...."

As is usually the case on our blog, not only has a long time passed since our last post, but a lot has also happened. Very much so. After our cocoa ceremony in Playa del Carmen, we went on an adventurous journey through Mexico. After our visa expired, we wanted to enter the USA, as the way south to Guatemala was denied by the latest covid regulations.

This part of our journey took us through the poorest and most dangerous areas of Mexico and brought us to our limits. This trip started with an engine failure the day we left Playa del Carmen. It took two weeks to “buy out” our Pepe from the shady workshop with a lot of money. It continued with dangerous situations along a varied and poor country. We were stripped by police officers, hit with stones and beer bottles, threatened, and robbed. We paid “foreigner tax” on every corner, which was often ten times the normal price. 

But what bothered us most was the constant noise. If every country has a word, “loud” is the word from Mexico. Always and everywhere – especially in the countryside. No matter where and how we set up camp for the night, a little later a dozen Mexicans came from somewhere with hectoliters of beer and speakers that made every disco owner jealous. And then they hooted, screamed, and got drunk until the wee hours of the morning. Then the pack drove away, leaving tons of rubbish. Sometimes two different groups met, then two different songs blasted from speakers just a few meters away. After the twentieth can of beer within an hour, nobody cared anymore, of course. Except – us.

One of the highlights of this adventure trip was the “Austrian Extraction”. This is what our friend Janel called the nerve-wracking operations to get us – the two Austrians – out of Mexico and safely to the USA. And I want to tell you about this Austrian extraction to give you a taste of our Mexico trip. I now take you by the hand, jump into my time machine in scene one of this multi-day drama. Because the most interesting stories are written by life itself. 

Scene one take place in the deserted US border crossing near one of the most dangerous cities Mexico – Laredo. In the main roles: the two Austrians (that would be us) and a particularly bad-tempered CBP (=Customs and Border Protection) Officer. Another border officer in the supporting roles. And another one. And then another. And then another female border officer. In addition to her bad mood, she was also very aggressive. And last but not least, another bad-tempered border policeman. Everyone had gathered around our camper and were happy to treat two travelers like special criminals. Police officer Ramires (I have suppressed the real name), chosen to defend the holy land from the nasty travelers from Mexico with Austrian passports and a dangerous-looking American car, refused us entry after two hours of questioning. The decision was clear – we had to go back to Mexico.

It all started with a virus that turned the world’s heads … that was probably started a little too early. So again: the whole fiasco had started a few hours earlier in the largest city in northern Mexico – Monterrey.

That was the start of our Adventure through Mexico

Part 1: In good faith

Let’s cross the border today,” said Nina with a hopeful voice. “Ok,” I said, not very enthusiastic. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to leave Mexico, I just didn’t like the border officers and the bureaucratic process on both sides. “We will be alright”, said Nina cheerfully.

A three-hour drive separated the city, glowing with heat, from the Mexican-American border. In between, desert and an amazingly good road (for Mexico). What did not exist were villages and gas stations, but the most expensive toll road in Mexico. We had to drive around three hours to find ourselves 40 minutes west and outside of Laredo at the Columbus border crossing. One of our final performances on the Mexican side was to return the “TIP” at the Banjercito counter and to get our $ 400 deposit back. This meant that the car could officially leave the country. There were heavy penalties for being in the country without a clearance. Banjercito, the authorities responsible for the TIP, had made life difficult in Mexico for us from the start. This time too. Instead of an official, we found a sign that announced the opening times of the counter and referred to the Banjercito counter directly in Laredo, and in case I haven’t mentioned it yet: Laredo is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. Did I also mention that we were within opening hours? Probably the officer was drinking beer with his brother Mario (a little inside joke). So, our only option was going straight back to Laredo.
The city differed from other filthy, shabby, and poor cities in Mexico in only one detail – many of the cars had no license plates. I took this as a bad sign. We reached the Banjercito facility in Laredo unscathed and I prepared myself for an hour-long, bureaucratic process. I was positively surprised: only one employee asked for a bribe and it took only 1 and 1/2 hours to get an adjusted TIP and thus 400 USD in cash in my hands. And because we were in such a good mood, we strolled through downtown Laredo and went shopping. Of course, we didn’t. We weren’t that tired of life.
Somewhere in Monterrey when it started

We drove to the border crossing directly in Laredo, which was only five minutes away from the Banjercito counter. A Mexican border officer stopped us and asked where we were going. “Home,” I burst out. I sounded like E.T. (for those of you who have no idea what that is -> link here) We learned that this border crossing was closed, we also learned that there is another border crossing in the city. The border officer blocked us when we wanted to turn around. He pointed to downtown Laredo with a dirty smile. “Why not this direction?” I asked, pointing in the direction we had come from. He said it costs 100 USD. “And this direction?” and pointed to Downtown Laredo. “Is free. And very dangerous, ”he said, still with his dirty smile on his plump, sweaty face. Then after a pause, he added “Veeeeery dangerous ”. I thanked them in the most condescending tone, which I could achieve in months of pent-up anger, and we drove to downtown Laredo.
I looked at Nina and said, “It won’t be more dangerous than other cities in Mexico”. I thought of a situation in Acapulco when we were going to the flea market and a shopkeeper said, “What the hell ...” were sent towards the less criminal area. * Kawumm *, a half-full beer was slammed against the windshield and pulled me out of my thoughts. “What the hell,” I yelled when I realized what had just happened. I had to wipe the rest of the beer off the windshield to be able to see the road again. We drove on. We didn’t say anything. A hundred meters later a Mexican kicked on our rear bumper at a traffic light and made an ugly dent. I drove on despite the red light. “Forget the other border,” I said hastily to Nina. “We’re going back to Columbia Crossing,” I added as I jerked the wheel to take a turn. For this, I earned horns from cars driving back and forth and shouts from several pedestrians. A few streets further on a child threw a fist-sized stone at us. The stone hit us on the side of the windshield and left a crack (a few weeks later our whole windshield cracked and we had to replace it). A few angry screams and threats later we were out of Laredo and on our way back to Columbia Crossing. We talked not much on our way to Columbia Crossing. It was dawn when we had officially left Mexico and came to the US border. Two border policemen, already on the US side, stopped us right on the bridge, so before the actual border. “The border is closed,” it echoed to us in a strict tone. 

"The border is closed"

We were of course prepared. “Essential travel” was allowed and so we scheduled an, already long overdue, post-op check-up appointment for my neck in San Antonio – Texas, only an hour from the border. We had the correspondence with the spine center and the appointment confirmation with us. For the two border policemen who stopped us in front of the bridge, everything seemed to be in order and we were allowed to go to the actual border. Now I also drew hope that we would actually make it. A whole group of people gathered us at the actual border. Finally, something was going on. Yay. We were welcomed and interrogated with the usual hostility of a US border control. Laws and regulations had little place on the US border. Who was allowed to cross the border, the police officer decides. And he decided against us. “Officer Sanchez” (or whatever his name was) behaved as if we were going to a war zone and he was going to be the last bastion between the poor, lost, and defenseless Americans and the overpowering, dangerous Austrian foreigners who wanted to lay the country in ruins. I will never understand how such a great country, full of interesting, friendly, and accommodating people, can produce such aggressive and unfriendly subspecies. I am thinking of an incident on the Canadian border when a husky border policeman treated a man of Indian origin with a turban like dirt. Nina spoke directly to “Officer Sanchez” about the official regulation for “essential travel”. He just said, “I know, but here I’m the law!”. And so, with another setback, we drove over the Rio Grande back to Mexico.

Part 2 - the re-entry

We only got about two hundred yards. Then we stopped at the Mexican border by Mexican border police. They asked for our passports, asked us a thousand questions, searched the car and camper with dogs, and finally said that we are not allowed to enter. I had to swallow. Big time. “Essential travel” only, one of the Mexicans announced. I couldn’t believe it, I hadn’t thought of that. The Mexican border had introduced an “Essential travel” regulation for the first time since covid started. We explained our situation and our failed attempt to cross the border as best we could. We were treated like scum by the Mexico’s officials for the thousandth time. Tears welled up in Nina’s eyes. The situation overwhelmed her. No surprise here, given all the hostility that hit us like a tsunami.
At some point later, the Mexican police “believed” us and let us enter Mexico – again. A few minutes later we faced the next nightmare. We needed a new visa and a new TIP. Yes, a T.I.P …. these three letters still give me a chill when I think about it. It was now midnight and we had been on our feet since 5 a.m. and in the car for about 10 hours. We had the new visa in no time, but the TIP … what can I say – a nightmare. This alone would be a story in itself. However, I withhold this one from you to not get lost in the individual nightmares.
At around 3 am we officially entered Mexico again, with a valid six-month visa for us and “Pepe” – our camper. The next problem was just waiting around the corner. We run out of gas. What should I say? I was counting on the success of the mission “border-crossing” and so I was planning to refill the tank at a fraction of the price in Texas. Furthermore, we had spent all of our pesos (you know, we thought…).
100 USD for turning around
So close on the map
We need a plan
So we drove in good hope to the only gas station outside of Laredo and hoped for the best – that they accept credit cards. I was just turning in so I saw a car in front of us that returned the credit card terminal to the cashier. I cheered privately. I stopped and, as always, asked if the terminal was working (which wasn’t always the case in Mexico). “No, unfortunately, it doesn’t work today,” he tells me. It took me a little to digest this. Nina swallowed next to me. “But …” I started and already saw his smile that I would have liked to decorate with my fist at that moment. “Dollars?” He asked. “What’s the exchange rate?” I asked him. He thought about it and said “12“. “12 ???” I repeated in disbelief. The worst exchange rate we have ever had on US dollars was 18. “Certainly not”, says Nina with an angry voice. “And what do you think we should do? Go to Laredo ?, at night?” I replied, no less angry. She had no idea but didn’t want to give that attendant any money. It was enough. For months we had been treated like an ATM on wheels. Enough. But what do you do? We were standing in nowhere, it was dangerous and we were at the end of our strength, but we still had to put some distance to Laredo today. I tried to negotiate, but he had no reason to lower the price.
Like a fly in a web, we finally capitulated to this greedy spider. I figured out how much we would need to get to the next gas station and only gas station on the road to Monterrey. I handed him $ 28 and he refueled. As always, I checked the display of the fuel pump to make sure it was on “0”. This time something was on the display and I pointed it out to him. He cleared the display and then began to fill our tank.
A few miles further south we suddenly found ourselves at the toll booth. “Oh no“, was the only thing I thought. I had completely forgotten about this. Out of sheer tiredness, I had forgotten to take the normal road – without the toll. The credit card terminal didn’t work here either and so we got into the spider web of the next greedy Mexican. This time the exchange rate was 13. Nina was trembling with anger and despair. It wasn’t much different for me. Shortly before sunrise, we stopped at the gas station. We only drove on fumes so empty was our tank. Instead of refueling, we parked and got to bed. We were exhausted and sleep was out of the question. So we dawned. One eye and one ear always on the outside world, as I had done almost every night for the past month. We stayed at the truck stop for about three hours, there was shouting and drinking. Beer bottles shattered somewhere on the floor and loud Mexican music boomed to us. When a truck driver helped himself right next to our camper, we drove on – back to Monterey.

Part 3 - We have a plan

Since Monterey didn’t have a campsite and it was too hot to sleep in the camper (around 42C during the day and 33C at night), we booked a hotel with a parking space. After many problems with the hotel check-in, we first hid in the air-conditioned hotel room. What now? Staying longer in Mexico was out of the question. We couldn’t go south, and we’d spent weeks researching all of the land and sea transportation options before our downfall yesterday. We only had two options: the first is to store the camper somewhere, leave the country and come back at some point to bring the car back to the United States. The second option is to get an American citizen to meet us at the border and take our car over the border. We quickly discarded the first option because we didn’t think we would find our car again when we came back one day and by the way, it would be illegal with our TIP.
It was time to clarify our situation with friends. Mark and Janel, our friends who had also visited us in Playa del Carmen, started the Mission “Austrian Extraction”. Find a way to get the two Austrians and their American car across the border. We discussed several variants. It was clear that the car was the problem, we could just fly to the USA ourselves. The air border wasn’t closed. Anyone who stayed in Mexico for more than 14 full days was allowed to enter the United States by plane. Normal visa conditions are required. We also talked to Ken and Cherry, who also visited us in Playa del Carmen together with Janel and Mark. Janel was confident that we would find a solution.
I have a solution” was the simple text we received from Janel the very next day. Janel’s daughter’s business partner knew a woman and her mother was ready to help us. I had to digest that first. Wow, a complete stranger by the name of Linda would save us. One day later, we and Linda had drawn up a plan and it looked like this: Linda would drive her car to a friend’s in Houston and have her taken to the airport from there. Then she would take a three-hour flight to Monterrey, where we would pick her up at the airport. Afterward, we would escort her to the border in a rental car and then drive back to the airport to fly to San Antonio in Texas ourselves. Linda would pick us up there. Together we would then take Linda to Houston, 5 hours away.
We had a plan. Nina booked everything. Flights, rental cars, etc.. We prepared all kinds of documents. A certified declaration that Linda was allowed to drive our car, we had her listed in our insurance and even had the vehicle documents, which were stored at Janel, sent to Linda via Fedex. In addition, we had to do a Covid test.
Bevor Covid Testing
Covid Test Equipment
Is that good?

Part 4 - The road to hell is paved with good intentions

The big day had come. The first act was to check in our flight. This was only possible 12 hours before departure. The Check-in didn’t work. The Viva Airbus website – a Mexican low-cost airline didn’t work. The evening before we had already packed everything and put it in our camper and checked out of the hotel.
As we arrived at the delivery exit – we were too big for the normal exit – the security guard wouldn’t let us pass. Although checked with the hotel several times, this security guard did not know anything. And of course, he didn’t speak English. “We have to go to the airport,” Nina snapped at him. Finally, he pulled out his radio and started talking to someone. Then he says my favorite statement in Mexico “No”. I hated this guy in this moment, and I cursed him with something bad. I ran about 500 meters back to the hotel (we couldn’t turn around at the exit) to discuss the matter with the receptionist. He didn’t know anything. So I explained our situation with moderate patience and finally, he took the radio and spoke to the security guard. I ran back and surprisingly, the barrier was opened for us.

"Finally, the door opened and a flight attendant pushed a white-haired lady in a wheelchair" - What happened?

A traffic jam later we were at the airport, where we couldn’t find a big enough parking space with Pepe. Twice we were yelled at by security guards that we weren’t allowed to park there. 30 minutes later we were at the Viva Airbus service desk to solve our check-in problem. The problem was unknown and when we went through the check-in on our smartphone, all the service staff gathered together like at a car crash site. However, there was no solution. So we had to do the check-in at the counter, which only opened three hours before and an hour before departure.  Our schedule would not allow this. According to our schedule, we didn’t arrive at the airport until 30 to 40 minutes before departure. Drive faster? Maybe. It will get tight. Very tight.
Next, we went to the rental car counters. There were a lot of different providers. All but one were occupied by Mexican women who either filed or painted their nails. There was only one counter that couldn’t show a bored Mexican woman – ours. At this point, I have to assure you, dear reader, that we are not making up this story. I know it sounds unbelievable but we had a few really bad days and the ridiculous thing about it is, I haven’t told you everything of our misadventures (no breakfast in the hotel despite pay, we were robbed in the department store, a whole block next to our camper burned down and it took about 20 fire engines all night to get the fire under control, the air conditioning in the hotel went offline, an Uber driver refused to take us, etc.) Back to the rental car. I called the Sixt hotline Mexico, which I found on Google. The fact that our counter was not manned and that it was agreed to pick up the car was confirmed by the person on the phone, but not a word of regret. We finally had to take a taxi to another terminal to be picked up by Sixt from there to get to the actual rental location.
With the rental car, we came back to the terminal 20 minutes after Linda’s flight had landed. We searched the airport and the parking lot. We hoped that Linda was still in the security area. Another half-hour passed. Nobody came anymore. “,” I said while we waited for Linda with a welcome sign. Finally, the door opened and a flight attendant pushed a white-haired lady in a wheelchair. “” I called. “”, Nina asked, turning to Linda. We were thinking the worst. Not so much positivity left those days. “I’m just lazy,” she said with a smile and stood up. Did I mention that Linda is almost 70 years old?
Our Angel Linda
The abandoned rental car counter
Wrong Terminal

Part 5 - to the border

Linda got into the passenger seat of “Pepe” and Nina behind the wheel. I jumped into the rental car and together we went off. To the border. Our drive was short – about 3 kilometers. Then we were stuck in a traffic jam in front of the toll booth. I checked my watch every few seconds and run the numbers how fast we would have to drive to be at the border with Linda and then turn around and be back at the airport in time (including returning the rental car) to catch our flight – Oh yes and check-in first. It didn’t look good. Not good at all.
Fifteen minutes later, a highway employee assigned cars to the toll booths. He waved me to a counter with no cars. Lucky in the end, I thought. I opened the driver’s window and handed my credit card to the clerk. There was no clerk. The counter was unoccupied. I looked around for a machine, no result. The highway employee had directed us to an unoccupied counter. And not just me. A whole column of cars was lined up behind Pepe. I got out, went to Nina, and explained the situation. The car behind Nina began to honk. I went to the back and looked at how much space to the next car was so that Nina could drive back out and push her way to the next occupied counter. Said and done. I stopped the cars by simply standing between Pepe and the other car, preventing them from going any further. This procedure gave me angry shouting, honking and a driver of a red VW even wanted to get out and do “something“, but luckily he was too fat and got stuck on the steering wheel when he tried. Despite the crazy situation, I had to smile. When Nina was on the way, I ran back to the rental car and drove back with my hand on the horn, and pushed myself to an open booth. Since the fat man was still stuck in the steering wheel and so he was blocking the traffic, I had not so much problem reaching the next occupied booth.
With this action, it was now finally clear that we would no longer make it to the border and back in time. We had to postpone the flight until tomorrow and find a hotel for Linda in Texas if she made it over the border to spend the night there. “You are more worried than me,” said Linda, turning to Nina. “We drive as long as we can and then you just turn around,” she added. So we did. We made it almost to the limit by driving fast. It would have been only half an hour, but we had used up our time quota until the last minute. We had handed over all the documents to Linda and the instruction to deal with Banjercito – Linda had to clear the TIP for us. We entered the navigation to San Antonio on Linda’s phone and downloaded the offline map. At this point, we realized that Lindas Phone was not working in Mexico. Now we were standing on the gravel edge of the motorway. Trucks passed us at a very high speed, kicking up dust as if we’d gotten into a sandstorm. It was time to say bye for now. “Good luck”, we wished Linda and I had felt guilty about letting Linda drive alone. What if there are problems with the TIP, what if she couldn’t cross the border and had to go back without contacting us, what if she was stopped by one of those crazy Mexican cops. Linda, on the other hand, was the calm itself. “It’ll be fine,” she told us soothingly.
What a lady, I only thought as we jumped into the rental car and raced across the gravel area that separated the two asphalt strips to get to the opposite side. We raced towards the airport at an unreasonable speed. I checked my watch every few minutes. “Linda should be at the border now,” I say after half an hour. “Linda should have done the TIP now,” I said after 45 minutes. After an hour I got nervous. “She should have already checked in on us,” I state with a vague foreboding. “What if she had problems on the border?” I added with concern. Nina said reassuringly “It’ll be okay, you know the Banjercito. Resolving a TIP can take longer ”. I nodded. Nina texted Linda and fifteen minutes later another. Another 15 Minutes, I said finally, “We have to turn around”. Nina did not contradict. Exactly at that moment, we received a text message from Linda: “Everything is fine, I stopped to have a nap ”. A burden felt from our hearts, she had made.
Somewhere on the "devils road" we left Linda

Part 6 - It ain't over till it's over

We reached the airport a little earlier than expected and drove straight to the Sixt counter. I jumped out of the car and inside the small building. “We’re running late and urgently need a taxi to the terminal,” I hastily informed the clerk, who looked at me with bloodied eyes. When he talked to me, I smelled the beer on his breath. It can’t be true, I thought as he tottered outside behind me. He checked all the contents of the car as I had never seen it before: two windshield wipers, four hubcaps, a spare tire, a jack. He switched on the light and made sure that all the light bulbs were still there. And so on. Then he asked us to get in the car, he would take us to the airport. Nina looked at me and shrugged. “What the heck, the foremost thing is that we leave Mexico,” she muttered as we droved in in serpentine lines to the terminal.

At the small terminal, we hurried to the check-in and were stopped before we reached it by an employee who promptly escorted us to the departure desk. If you leave the country in Mexico by plane, you have to leave the country first. So we gave the bored-looking border officer our passports. Nina’s passport first, he flicked through, stoped, typed on the computer, took another look at the passport, and put “Bammmmm” – the stamp in it. My passport, he flicked through, stoped, typed on the computer, took another look at the passport, then back to the computer. No stamp. “You cannot leave because you did not enter,” he told me in a bored tone. “So can I go then?“, I asked him incredulously and desperately. “No,” he replied. I asked him if he could look again, he typed again and said “No” again. “Not in the computer”. 

A wild explanation followed that he should use my name in the international spelling as printed in the passport. He just didn’t type the “ü” because it didn’t appear on his computer. 15 minutes later he used the international spelling and I had left the country too. We were at the check-in counter and still had five minutes to check-in. Haha, we did it to the last minute. I handed the lady our passports. She turned the pages and scanned our passports on her computer. Then she said, “You cannot board because the USA requires 14 full days stay in Mexico”. She paused and then added, “and you’ve only been in Mexico a few days“. 

At first, I was speechless. The bad thing was, she was right. We had only entered Mexico a few days ago, but we hadn’t left the country. Well, strictly speaking, we were on US soil for three hours. I tried to explain the situation as best I could, but her English was not good enough to follow the story. She just shook her head. I didn’t know whether because of a lack of understanding or because she didn’t want to help. Then help came from a Mexican at the counter next to us. He was married to an American and was also denied re-entry after visiting his relatives. His wife drove across the border by car and he had to fly. He explained the situation to the lady behind the counter. The look on her face indicated that she didn’t believe him. However, at some point, she typed on her computer and printed out the boarding passes for us. We thanked our Savior a thousand times and I made a mental note that we had just met the 11th friendly Mexican in 7 months. After all, there is hope.

"You cannot leave because you did not enter Mexico" - the unfriendly border officer

Completely exhausted and hungry, we sat in the tiny boarding area. Nina went out and bought an unhealthy sandwich and a small bottle of tequila. We finished both. An hour later – with a delay of course – we boarded our flight. Nearly. When I swiped my boarding pass over the scanner, the little scanner beeped. Traitor, I thought. A flight attendant asked me to wait on the side. Nina had already gone outside, the device had not beeped on her at all, because she forgot to scan. She looked at me from the other side of the “gate”. I shrugged my shoulders. After 20 minutes everyone had checked in and I was still waiting in front of the “gate”. Then a security officer came and asked for my passport. I gave him the passport and waited. He handed it back to me, exchanged a few words with the flight attendant and she waved me through.
We were the last to step on the plane and I had no idea what could go wrong except for a plane crash. Then an announcement followed and Nina’s name was called. That couldn’t be all true. What was the matter that this crazy country? It would not let us go. Nina hid behind the seat hoping it was just a misunderstanding. 10 minutes later, the doors were still not closed, although everyone was already buckled up, the announcement was repeated and Nina raised her hand. A flight attendant came up and asked her if she was Nina. Nina nodded and he disappeared again. A minute later the loudspeaker said, “Boarding completed”. The announcement may also have been “Beer and terribly loud music is coming soon”. In Mexico who knows? We were on our way to the promised land. Adios Mexico!

"Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people"

Linda is the reason why I still believe in the goodness of people. As Henry James said, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.
Would you leave everything for a complete stranger, jump into a plane, fly three hours into a dangerous country, then take over a car that is filled with lots of unknown things and drive over a closed and highly criminal border and not even think of something in return? What if you were seventy and not that fit anymore? Yes, you would do that? You would get along really well with Linda. She is an Angel.
Linda, thank you for all your kindness and generosity. As we said a thousand times: If you ever need something, we are there.
Our Angel Linda

Did you enjoy this post? - Leave us a comment

Nothing is worse than talking to an empty room. The comments section below this post is the perfect place for words of encouragementasking simple questionslet us know if we missed an important point, or just joining in with your thoughts, experiences, and stories.

Uh, and please don’t forget to share – sharing is the ultimate social love.

Hi, my name is Jürgen. Most know me as Jay. I know, this can be confusing. My new name was caused by hundreds of Starbucks cups, all labeled with different names. I have never encountered life as powerfully as it has in recent years and I should not be surprised that I have left behind the realm of quick and impersonal business and conforming to society’s expectations. I swapped my jacket for hiking clothes and shorts, the aftershave for bug spray, and my car for a camper.


  • Jeff and Melissa

    I’m speechless! Do you wake up in a cold sweat sometimes thinking you are back in Mexico? Even though we heard you tell it in person your post brings it into clearer view. Glad you made it!

  • Austrians embarks on a journey to the Promised Land, Austrian extraction from Mexico, discovery of T.I.P, Linda the savior. The wrongdoing hits you between the eyes from page one. With a thrilling concept at its core. However, it is the subtleties at play that will draw you in like a spider beckoning to an unwitting fly. Welcome back Nina and Jurgen (Jay) 😇 and Thank you Linda.

  • Gabi und Peter

    Hallo Ihr beiden endlich Glücklichen, danke für den tollen Bericht! Uns stehen immer noch die Haare zu Berge, unglaublich, was Ihr alles erlebt habt! Hut ab vor Euren Mut und vor Eurem Optimismus - macht weiter so, dann "Your dreams come true"! Wir drücken Euch die Daumen, alles wird gut!!!

  • hiking nomad

    You're a good story teller!! So sorry you had such a tough time in Mexico. I have thought of you guys so many times and you have been in. my prayers. Here I was thinking you had such an awesome time with your camper!! Glad we all bumped into each other in Playa. All the best, Rebecca, Grace and Faith.

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