Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock

Our Car Dilemma – Lawrie’s turn to write

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Leaving Isla Mujeres – to drive to Progresso

After four years of living on Isla Mujeres – it was time.  Time to sell the car.  Our 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid that we had driven down from Canada was as close to perfect as we could get.  It’s inexpensive to run, and trouble free – except for a few small details. 

And as you know it’s all in the details.

We live on the oceanfront where clouds of airborne sea salt roll over the island and we are constantly battling rust and corrosion on anything made of metal.  I had to wash the car daily to stop the rust.  Plus ours was probably the only Nissan Hybrid in Mexico, so future repairs could be a problem.  And finally, with four people in the car, we were barely able to drive over the, topes, speed bumps that are very common on roads in Mexico.  The car just didn’t have enough ground clearance.

Linea Peninsula Shipping

What to do: We couldn’t sell the car in Mexico, as it had been imported on a temporary permit.  We couldn’t sell the car in the USA as the gauges were in metric and the car didn’t have the correct EPA stickers.  So the Altima had to go back to Canada.  How to do this?  We didn’t want to drive it back as we aren’t comfortable crossing the USA-Mexico border right now, and as much as we love driving trips we had other plans for a holiday this year.  I started investigating on the internet for an alternative means of getting the car back to Canada. 

Step one was to drive the car to Progresso, about four and a half hours north-east of Cancun and register with Linea Peninsula a container shipping company.  The staff were great!  They helped us navigate the complex rules to process the car through Mexican Customs, clear it through American Customs, and truck it to the USA-Canada border. 

Banjercito – paperwork

 Step two was to export the car through Mexican Customs.  We used Angie Winegar at Banjercito in Progresso, to process the paperwork.  Angie was fantastic.  She advised us that we had a slight delay before she could organize our permit.  The bank computers were being updated and were off-line until later in the afternoon. 

Angie suggested we have a nice leisurely lunch at one of the beach restaurants, and return at 1:30 in the afternoon.  We did.  She was late getting back to the office, but hustled and had our paperwork completed in twenty minutes. 

Step three was to drive the car back to Linea Peninsular and continue the checking-in process, eventually driving the car out along the seven kilometre pier in the port of Progresso to leave it at the container ship.  Linea Peninsular services were about five hundred ($500.00) US dollars.  I would use them again, in a heartbeat. 

Port Authority in Progresso

When the ship arrived in Panama City Florida, another extremely helpful person, April Parrish of Page & Jones Customs Brokers, expedited it through American Customs.  They charged $300.00, but later advised me that they would be refunding $150.00 as it was not necessary to have the car inspected.

For the next part of the journey from Panama City to Blaine Washington, near the Canadian border, I used Montway Shipping.  I found this company though a website called “U-Ship” where I requested on-line bids from several trucking companies before setting on Montway.  They picked up our car from the docks and in short order it was in Blaine Washington. The total cost for trucking was one thousand and four hundred ($1400.00) US dollars.

So for around two thousand ($2100.00) US dollars we got our Nissan to the USA-Canada border.  Sound like a lot to pay? 

Well considering the shortest route via Goggle Maps is 3940 miles it would take us a minimum of ten days to drive back to British Columbia.  We like to stop frequently.  Plus we would have to pay for gas, food, lodging, a few cocktails, and return airfare to Mexico – we think the cost was a bargain!

The only wrinkle in this whole process was caused by our previous insurance carrier ICBC, operated by the province of BC.  When we moved to Mexico they would not continue to insure our car, so we let it lapse and instead purchased Mexican insurance.  Before leaving Canada in 2008, I had been advised by an ICBC agent that when we wanted to return they would re-insure the car and send us the decals so that we would be insured on the drive back. 

Chuck Watt, inspecting the car in Blaine WA
Change of administrations and a change of regulations, and our car had been purged from the ICBC system.  Their response was “sorry, tough luck, but maybe you can find an insurance company in California that would sell you a policy.”  No.  No one would sell such a policy.  Thank you so much, ICBC. 

I had such fantastic service from the Mexican shipping company, Mexican customs, US customs, and US trucking company – only to be told by our Canadian insurance company that we were on our own.

There is a happy ending.  The final step required the assistance of good friend, Chuck Watt, who arranged Canadian insurance and drove it across the border for us. The car is back in Vancouver, living at Chuck and Marcy’s house, just waiting for a new owner. 

Sparkling clean and looking for a new owner


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