Frequently Asked Questions

Is this trip open to beginners?
How much will a typical week-long trip cost?
It seems like a long way away. Is it easy to get there?
Can I hitch a ride with someone?
Do I need any immunizations or anything else special?
What’s the best way to change dollars to pesos for my trip?
How do I get from the U.S. side of the border to Mexican Customs?
What do I need to do to cross the Mexican border?
Should I buy my Mexican vehicle insurance in advance, or does it matter?
What is the simplest way to get through Nuevo Laredo and onto Highway 85?
How do I navigate through Monterrey?
From Monterrey, how do I find Laguna de Sanchez?
What if I want to avoid Monterrey?
Where should I buy food?
Where should I buy gasoline?
Can I get diesel?
Where should I buy alcohol?
Is it safe to eat the food and drink the water?
I understand that this will be primitive camping. What about bathroom facilities? A shower?
Is the campsite safe?
Do phones work there?
Is there electricity?
What kind of camping equipment do I need?
Should I bring firewood?
What kind of caving equipment do I need?
What kind of equipment will the Project provide?
How should I dress?
What is the modus operandi (method of operation) of the day?
Poison Ivy???
What sort of caves can I expect?
What about returning to U.S.A.?

Is this trip open to beginners?

Yes. Some caves require more caving proficiency (i.e. vertical) than others, but there are a lot of caves in the area. You don’t even need to be caver to enjoy this area. But you do have to be flexible and careful, as this is a very primitive and remote area with health care, banks, gas stations, and other amenities a long ways off.
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How much will a typical week-long trip cost?

With food, gas, and tourist visa, we estimate between $200 and $300 total per person leaving from Austin, Texas. If you want souvenirs, or are buying food and adult beverages outside of the group purchases, bring more.
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It seems like a long way away. Is it easy to get there?

There are several ways to get to the Project area. Most people on our expeditions drive from Austin, Texas. It is about 8-9 hours, not counting time spent at the border crossing. From Austin, head south on I-35 to Laredo. Cross there and continue south on Mexico 85 through Monterrey to the town of El Cercado. Turn west on NL 20 towards Cola de Caballo, and continue on the paved road to La Cienega de Gonzales, San Juan Bautista, San Isidro, and eventually to Laguna de Sanchez, where the pavement ends.

[see details on crossing the border, navigating Monterrey, and finding the caves from Laguna de Sanchez, below]

Alternate transportation schemes could include flying in to Monterrey and taking buses to El Cercado and Laguna de Sanchez or even busing from the U.S.
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Can I hitch a ride with someone?

We will try to fit as many people into whatever rugged, off-road vehicles that we can get, but it depends on drivers and vehicle availability. Your best bet, of course, is to have your own caver vehicle that you take down. Keep in touch with the Project coordinators about ride availability to make sure you aren't left behind.
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Do I need any immunizations or anything else special?

You don't need any vaccines. There is nothing weirder in Laguna de Sanchez than you would get from visiting Texas.
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What’s the best way to change dollars to pesos for my trip?

If you have the time, you can try getting pesos at your local bank. But if not, you can get money changed at any one of a large number of places in either Laredo or Nuevo Laredo. Check the current exchange rates online before you leave (I use www.xe.com) and then look around for the rates closest to that. Google will give you rates. Just type in 1 dollar in pesos. You can do the math right in Google by changing the numbers or words around. For example, 3000 pesos in dollars will convert pesos to dollars.

You can also get money changed in the Aduana (CIITEV Modulo) building [see next question] at competitive rates. This is probably your most convenient method. Finally, you can just use your debit card in any ATM you see in Mexico, including larger grocery stores, to make a withdrawal from your bank account in pesos, with a likely small surcharge from your bank.

Note: In the mountains, NOBODY accepts credit cards or debit cards, so have adequate cash for the time you are there, plus a little extra for emergencies. You can always change pesos back to dollars, or sell them to someone who will be visiting Mexico again soon.

Note that smaller bills and coins are better than large notes in smaller Mexico towns like Laguna de Sanchez.
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How do I get from the U.S. side of the border to Mexican Customs?

I-35 south to Laredo dead-ends at one of the bridges across the Rio Grande. Cross at that bridge and pay the small bridge toll. Do not take any other bridges or crossings, or you will likely be confused and get lost for a while. As soon as you go across the river, look to the right. That big white building ("Aduana") is where you need to go for a tourist visa and temporary vehicle importation permit. To get there, go about a block from the toll booth on the Mexican side of the bridge (through the red/green traffic light that tells you to proceed or stop to get your vehicle searched), turn LEFT, then follow the blue-and-white signs, which say something like "vehiculos importadas". You'll get to a traffic light, cross over a major street, and make a hard left (there are usually street beggars here) back along the river toward the bridge. Park in the large parking lot (lock the doors) and go up the steps and get in line. Lots of people waiting there will speak English, so if you don't know what to do, just ask around. It is pretty easy and painless.
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What do I need to do to cross the Mexican border?

Basically, everyone needs a Tourist Visa, which requires a Passport. You will also need to have a Passport to return to the United States. As of 1 June 2009, U.S. Customs rules require a Passport, Passport Card, Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or Trusted Traveler Program Card. See this site for specific rules. You can get an application or renewal form at the Post Office or online. All the rules and regulations regarding Passports can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.

When filling out the tourist visa form, put “Monterrey, NL” (“NL” for Nuevo León) as the destination. Tourist visas are good for 180 days and cost $262 MXN pesos (roughly $20 USD). Tip: Bring a pen with you!

In the same building you can get a vehicle permit. This is required to bring a vehicle into Mexico, but only the driver/owner of each vehicle needs to do this, not the passengers. You will need a copy of your driver’s license, the vehicle registration and/or title, your tourist visa , and again, your passport. You will also need a credit card or check card. There will be a one-time charge of approximately $40 ($430 pesos or so the last time we checked). ALSO, as of May 2011, you will need to leave a cash or credit card deposit of $200-400 USD (depending on the year of your vehicle). You get that back as you return to the US and turn in your vehicle permit. For your troubles (and money) you will get a certificate with a sticker on the back. The sticker needs to be peeled off and carefully placed on the inside top center of your windshield. This permit is good for a year, however, if you don't plan to take the same vehicle back to Mexico within a year, I suggest stopping back at the Aduana on the way back home and having the permit canceled (and get your deposit back). If you don’t, you will never be able to get another vehicle permit in your name, no matter what vehicle you are driving (i.e. no driving your vehicle back into Mexico) until you go back to the border and get it canceled or find a Mexican Consulate somewhere and get it canceled. All these records are now computerized, so you can’t bluff your way in with an expired vehicle sticker any more.
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Should I buy my Mexican vehicle insurance in advance, or does it matter?

Some people like to buy it in advance through AAA if they are a member, or online at any one of a number of websites (Sanborns is one popular site). There are also many places on either side of the border--just look for signs saying “seguros”. It is an extremely good idea to buy vehicle insurance for the time you are in Mexico, since most U.S. policies do NOT cover travel in Mexico.
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What is the simplest way to get through Nuevo Laredo and onto Highway 85?

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When leaving the Aduana building, just go back up to the light with the beggars and go left on that nice big street. It's a bypass around the eastern side of Nuevo Laredo, and gets you to Highway 85 south really fast. But don’t speed, as the area is heavily patrolled by policemen just waiting to bust tourists. Highway 85 South will be another traffic light with an overpass (be sure to watch carefully for signs). You'll know it because there are usually street vendors and beggars there, too, especially on weekends and holidays. As a general rule, don't give beggars any money (no matter how pathetic they look), don't buy anything (save your shopping for someplace more reputable and with better prices), and refuse any and all attempts to have your window washed. If they still try, don't give them any money.

Some distance south of Nuevo Laredo you'll have to go through the Frontier ("Frontera") zone, where there will be another Aduana office and a military checkpoint. Hope you get the green light here, show your papers to the nice policeman, and off you go. In general, when asked what you are doing, just say that you are going camping in the mountains near Monterrey. The best advice when answering questions from inquisitive Mexican officials is to not lie, but only give the barest amount of information possible. For instance, if the officials press you about what you are doing while camping, just say "Hiking and exploring caves." Don't give any kind of hint that you are on a scientific expedition, mapping, and/or collecting insects. Just play tourist. They like tourists, since it means gringo money coming into their country.

Just beyond the Frontera the road splits into two, the Cuota (toll road) and Libre (free road). Definitely take the toll road, because it will save you almost an hour, and only costs about $16 USD. That may sound steep, but it is worth every penny. The toll road joins the free road on the north side of Monterrey. [see next question]
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How do I navigate through Monterrey?

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From where the toll road ("cuota", remember?) rejoins the free road ("libre"), continue south on 85 into Monterrey. It's a big, bustling, modern city, the 3rd largest in Mexico. It is heavily industrialized and has far more gringo influence than any other city in Mexico outside the border towns and obvious tourist destinations like Cancun. You even see Pizza Huts, KFC, Dominos Pizza, Church's Chicken, Holiday Inn, H.E.B., Wal-Mart, etc. as you drive through. Getting through Monterrey can be tricky, and is best done during daylight hours. At night, some of the signs and landmarks are difficult to see. Make sure you have printouts of the maps posted here on the website, and that everyone in the vehicle is looking for the road names and other landmarks so the driver can concentrate on the traffic. You'll see the worst of Mexican traffic here: people driving too slow, people driving too fast, people stopping abruptly, people turning left from the right lane, people passing where there are no passing lanes, and so on. A good site with more info (and in English!) is http://www.allaboutmonterrey.com/. There are additional maps there, too. Another good site is http://www.world66.com/northamerica/mexico/monterrey, click on the Google map on the bottom left of the page (zoomable and scrollable!).

The best highways are on the west (and most affluent) part of town. Unless you are REALLY adventurous, DO NOT try to take what looks like the obvious shorter and more direct route straight through town. Trust me, it's not either. Stay on Highway 85 south, which becomes Av. Universidad and eventually Alfonso Reyes. You will pass UNL (University of Nuevo León) on the left, mostly visible by the huge soccer stadium, and soon after you will see the bull ring, another big stadium. Merge onto Av. Cristobal Colón and go west. This may seem counter-intuitive, but trust me. You are eventually going to turn south again onto a road that is soon called Av. Manuel Gomez Morín. It crosses the river that is on the south side of downtown (you will see a big highway heading east parallel to the river), and the road eventually heads up into the foothills and through a tunnel. Don't keep going up, or you will end in Chipinque National Park. Instead, veer southeast onto Av. Lazaro Cardeñas. This will come out right behind the Super Wal-Mart onto Highway 85 again. Super Wal-Mart is a good place to stock up on groceries or anything you might have forgotten, like batteries, but you can also stop at any Soriana, HEB, or Gigante grocery stores you see.
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From Monterrey, how do I find Laguna de Sanchez?

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Follow Highway 85 south from Monterrey on MUCH better roads, past Los Cavazos with its wall-to-wall vendors on either side of the road (a fun place to pick up souvenirs on the way back home), past Presa La Boca ( a big lake, with the famous Cueva la Boca in the canyon on the far side), through the town of Santiago, and to the town of El Cercado. There are lots of small signs for "Cola de Caballo" (Horsetail Falls) along the way. Follow those, since you will be going right past Cola de Caballo on the way up the mountain to Laguna de Sanchez.

El Cercado is the last place to hit an ATM or get gas (on 85 just south of the turnoff for Cola de Caballo) before going up in the mountains. I usually stop at the cerveceria there to get several cases of beer for the trip (the owner knows me) and at the carneceria next door for a week's worth of meat. Don't forget that we will be taking care of the main grocery shopping for the entire expedition, and that everyone will be charged a share of the food and beverage costs as well as being expected to pitch in on cooking and cleanup chores.

Following NL 20 from the Highway 85 turnoff, you will pass Cola de Caballo and be at the turnoff for Portrero Redondo in 8.3 miles (13.4km from Hwy 85). Go straight. At mile 14 (22.5km from Hwy 85) you pass through the village of La Cienega, and at mile 23 (37km) you get to the village of San Isidro. A paved road here will eventually lead west through the mountains to Arteaga and Saltillo, but save that for another time. Continue straight another mile or two (1.6-3.2km) to the top of the hill in Laguna de Sanchez. There is a large, white, 3-story, abandoned hotel there at a T-intersection. All other directions will be from that point.
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What if I want to avoid Monterrey?

There is an alternate route into the mountains from the west. It is very scenic, but slightly longer. I also avoids the traffic and potential cartel problems in Monterrey.

Start off by heading south on the Cuota (toll road) from Laredo, highway 85. When the toll road ends and you are back on the normal highway, you will pass the Aeropuerto del Norte on your right. Soon after that, look for signs saying "toll road to Saltillo". Of course, it will be in Spanish, and you should know by now that the actual word is "cuota." The highway number you are looking for is 44, and you may also see signs for the Periferico, which is like a bypass around the town (of Monterrey). These are all the same road. Take the highway west and get on the toll road as soon as possible. This road just opened in the spring of 2010, and was immediately damaged by Hurricane Alex in July 2010. Look for signs of landslides and repairs as you drive by. As you get towards Saltillo, you will turn off (to the South) on another toll road towards Arteaga. This is Highway 57, and signs should be telling you that you are heading towards Matehuala. Soon past the Arteaga/Saltillo exit on 57, you will see signs for an exit for "Los Lirios." Take that, and follow that road east past numerous apple orchards (huertos) and through the community of Los Lirios. Continue east on the same road up into the mountains and across the state line into Nuevo León, where your road will eventually come out in the village of San Isidro, just a couple of klicks down the road from the village of Laguna de Sanchez. Turn right to go to LdeS, or left to get to scenic Cañon La Boca, San Juan Bautista, La Cienega, La Nogalera, Cola de Caballo, and (eventually) Highway 85 and Monterrey. I don't have a good tracklog yet to post of this route. I had one, but the computer ate it. When I get one, it will be posted with the rest.
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Where should I buy food?

We usually do group meals to save time, fuel, and cleanup. Under this scenario, breakfast and dinner are provided; lunch is not. Be sure to bring granola bars, etc. for during the day.

During travel to and from the destination, there are numerous little convenience stores such as OXXO and 7-11. In the town of Laguna de Sanchez, you can find all the necessities that we might run out of during the week, like toilet paper, bottled water, beer, eggs, meat, tomatoes, onions, chilies, usually ice, etc., but the quantities and selection are limited.

We typically provide a vegetarian option at mealtime, but this is not always the case. If you have any special dietary needs, you'll have to take care of that yourself. If you a picky eater, you had better bring a big jar of peanut butter or something.

We often stock up at H.E.B. (yes, H.E.B.) in Monterrey, NL. They do have ATMs. For bigger trips, we pre-buy in bulk at Sam's Club and Fiesta Foods.
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Where should I buy gasoline?

At any Pemex station you see. Prices are the same at every Pemex. Be sure to fill up at the last station in El Cercado before heading up into the mountains.
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Can I get diesel?

Diesel is no problem, and can usually be had at any Pemex station. Fill up in El Cercado before heading up the mountain, and you will be good for the whole week.
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Where should I buy alcohol?

On larger trips, bottles of vino manzana and Indio beer are procured and provided. Other beverages, such as tequila and mezcal, are sometimes available. You will probably want to buy a few bottles of vino manzana, apart from the group, to take home with you.

The big grocery stores (see four questions above) have the best selection of spirits, but you can buy beer and even tequila and other liquors in almost any convenience store or mountain tienda. Selections and quantities will be limited, though. There is also a nice cerveceria (beer store) in El Cercado right along the road to LdeS. If buying bottles, you will have to pay a deposit; make sure you return the bottles back to the same place. My favorite beer, locally available, is Indio. The town of Laguna de Sanchez is locally famous for the excellent apple wine “Licor de Manzana” and quince wine “vino de membrillo” made there from locally-grown fruits. They are just the thing to “take the edge off” after a day of caving, digging, ridge walking, or just laying around camp! There are also some fine local mescals, smooth and slightly smoky. Buy some big bottles of Squirt something similar (look for the word “toronja” meaning grapefruit) as a mixer for a delicious Camotera Sunrise.
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Is it safe to eat the food and drink the water?

Generally, the only water you want to drink is bottle water labeled “aqua purificada.” As an alternative, see the question immediately above. Most food is fine, but please use common sense when purchasing from street vendors. Be vigilant about checking for cleanliness with food preparers, and wash your own hands frequently. It’s a good idea to carry and use a small pocket bottle of hand sanitizer, e.g. Purell. When buying fresh fruits and vegetables, peel before eating. In ten or more years of running trips to the LdeS area, we have never had anyone get sick from anything they ate or drank.
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I understand that this will be primitive camping. What about bathroom facilities? A shower?

When there are just a few of us we usually simply take a long walk away from camp when we have a “nature call”, burning any paper and burying our “business”. But with a larger group, we have some sort of a latrine to concentrate the wastes. We will also build a little shower area with a solar shower and a privacy screen. Water is precious up there, so we recommend bringing baby wipes for general cleaning, and only showering every few days or so, when you and your friends can’t stand too close to each other any more.
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Is the campsite safe?

There is very little traffic along the dirt road. The landowner and his family are very gracious and give us our privacy. Essentially, you are in the middle of nowhere. In the multiple trips that have occurred, there has been no loss due to stealing.
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Do phones work there?

The quick answer is no. The town of Laguna de Sanchez has a satellite phone near the Conasupa, but it costs a couple of bucks a minute to call the States. There is no cell coverage in the area. Note that the camping area at La Camotera is a good hour or so from town.
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Is there electricity?

The town of Laguna de Sanchez has electricity, but there is none at the campsite. If you are bringing a laptop or something else that needs recharging (like a camera), then bring a power inverter for your vehicle, or solar panels or something.
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What kind of camping equipment do I need?

Bring a tent (or arrange to share one with somebody), a groundsheet, a sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad, and a SMALL pillow if you must have one. A lower rated sleeping bag in winter, e.g. -20F, is nice for the colder evenings. There are lots of nice grassy space for camp, and it is inside a fenced area that keeps out the cows, horses, and burros. But not the pigs! Bring ear plugs if a bunch of exhausted snoring cavers (or wide-awake cavers around the campfire) will keep you up. Bring your own plate, bowl, cup, and eating utensils. Bring (or buy in town before heading up into the mountains) at least 5 gallons of water per person (figure about 1 gallon per person per day). Bring a camera and binoculars, and a journal if you are into that. Bring a musical instrument if you can play it well. Bring a jacket and hat for cool evenings. Bring a camp chair for sitting around the fire or eating dinner. Bring baby wipes for “dry showers”.

For clothing, I often take my rattiest stuff, wear it caving during the day, and then burn it in the campfire at night. Remember that you won’t be washing clothes that week, so plan on wearing everything a couple of times. Long pants or jeans are fine for the caves, and a lightweight fleece pullover or long-sleeved shirt will keep you warm in the caves. Make sure you have good hiking boots. A pair of polypropylene tops and bottoms don’t take up much space, and can add an extra layer if needed. You will probably want to throw in some kind of poncho or other rain gear. Bring insect repellent or a long-sleeved shirt. The insects are not really bad, but we went up there a couple of years ago after a forest fire, and the gnats (“jejenes”) were so horrible that we had to cut our trip short by a couple of days. Trekking poles are also useful, especially if you have bad knees (like me).

Pack lightly since we may be cramming 4-5 people and gear in each vehicle, using packs and duffel bags rather than tubs and milk crates. But make sure you have the essentials. Don’t forget to have your passport and other necessary papers, cash, personal medications (including Pepto-Bismol, just in case), and a Spanish dictionary if you want to expand your vocabulary. It’s a good idea to have a small daypack or something similar to carry these things with you at all times (and your camera, a small light, a pocket knife, Purell, something to read, etc.).

If you are a driver, you will want to make sure you have good tires and a good spare (or two). Make sure all of your belts and fluids are good. Make sure you have a good jack, and a can of fix-a-flat, a tire plug kit, and maybe even a battery-powered compressor. A good-quality inverter is also useful, and jumper cables. Drivers may also want to have one medium-sized cooler per vehicle for drinks on the way down and back. Pack cave gear, chairs, etc low and to the back of your truck, keeping tents and sleeping bags near the top for quick access.

If you are unsure about whether or not to pack something, just ask us. Space will be limited, so you don’t want to bring the kitchen sink.
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Should I bring firewood?

No. There is plenty to be found around camp. A bag of charcoal can be very useful, however, for grilling meat or cooking in the Dutch oven. It is available in the big grocery stores as well as the little tiendas in Laguna de Sanchez.
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What kind of caving equipment do I need?

Bring your basic cave gear (boots, clothes, gloves, kneepads, pack, helmet, headlamp), and enough batteries/carbide to cave for a week.

Bring your personal vertical gear, but no ropes. FYI, we rig things Euro-style, since Texas cavers universally use the Frog system. If you can’t pass a rebelay or redirect, you should probably practice in advance of the trip, so you don’t miss out on some really nice caves. If you have a big battery-powered hammer drill (like the Bosch Annihilator) that you can bring, let us know, as we might need an extra. Bring your own survey gear if you have it, especially if you have a Disto. Bring an extra shirt for the cave. Bring a GPS if you have it. Also bring a rock hammer or small crowbar if you have one. Most of the caves we visit will be virgin, and can often be easily pushed by moving some rocks or fill. Temperatures in the caves are about 14-16°C (58-60°F), and the caves are usually dry. We tend to cave there with just jeans, a T-shirt, and maybe a polypro shirt if it is a really breezy cave.

Note: you are responsible for food during the day. Bring enough cave food (granola bars, etc.) to last the duration of the trip. Bring a water bottle large enough to carry a day's worth of water. If you are digging or doing other hard activity, you will need more. We highly recommend sports-drink flavor packets to put in your water that provide needed electrolytes.
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What kind of equipment will the Project provide?

We will provide all ropes and vertical hardware (bolts, hangers, and maillons). We will have one Bosch Annihilator, and extra battery, and bits. We will also have some larger rock-breaking tools (sledgehammers and bars) and a rock-shaving kit. We will have at least 5 sets of survey gear and a couple of Distos. The Project will provide survey books to all teams that must be returned at the end of the week. We will have a couple of GPSes available. We will also provide the camp shower and set up some kind of toilet area. We provide a complete camp kitchen, with tables, pots, grills, stoves, skillets, cutting boards, cooking utensils, and wash basins. We will have a chain saw or some other saw to help with cutting firewood. We’ll have a couple of lanterns for the kitchen area. We will provide several very large ice chests for group food and beverages. Most perishable food not in the coolers will be stored in the vehicles to protect it from pigs and other animals. We’ll also try to have some kind of tarp or tent to cook under, especially if it looks like rain.
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How should I dress?

You will be in high desert (mountains at some elevation). Temperatures can get low, and rain occurs at different points of the year. Typically the weather is sunny and clement, but there have been stretches of rain, cloudy skies, and cool temperatures.

For Winter Trips:
A fleece coat and shell coat over the top is a bare minimum. Also bring a warm winter hat. Thermals are often nice for sleeping, especially if your sleeping bag isn't rated for low temperatures. Note that even on the winter trips, the cave temperatures are generally warm, unless there is a breeze. Bring some kind of shell coat for that condition.

"Cotton kills!"
Simply stated, you need to wear synthetics for moisture management in cold and cool temperature conditions. While cotton is fine in dry conditions, cotton does not wick moisture, gets heavy, and can quickly lead to hypothermia. Wool is often acceptable, but is not as good as synthetics. Also note that natural fibers take much longer to dry once wet as compared to comparably weighted synthetic fibers.

Bring long sleeved shirts! Flying insects called jejenes are around during the day. Their bite is almost unnoticeable when you get it, but the result is a welt and an itch that can last several days.
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What is the modus operandi (method of operation) of the day?

In a typical day:

  • Get up around 7:30 to 8:00 a.m.
  • Breakfast is cooked, eaten, and dishes cleaned up.
  • Assemble groups, plan, and prepare for caving for that day.
  • Go caving, usually around 10:00 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Dinner is usually started around 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Eat, do dishes.
  • Entertainment.
Entertainment might be sitting around the campfire enjoying vino or beer and conversation. Sometimes a movie is shown (yes, in the middle of nowhere). Sometimes a slide show of images taken during the trip is shown. There has even been an instance of an '80s dance party. We take our caving seriously, but we enjoy kicking back too.
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Poison Ivy???

Unfortunately, there is poison ivy around much of the area. Be aware of how to identify it. If you know you are allergic, bring topical and oral antihistamines as necessary. Before going into a cave, look for poison ivy and remove it with gloves. Watch where you put your packs and gear.

If you are not allergic to poison ivy, please be aware that several people are! Please try to avoid it as your gear or person might come in contact with other gear or persons.
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What kind of caves can I expect?

There are numerous karst features in the area. If you start pulling rocks out of a hole, you might find a 30+ meter pit, or you might find that it ends after 3m. Some caves are simple fissure cracks; others are solutional; some are great pits.

Be cautious when rappelling into caves. Some of the fissure crack caves had bad air.
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What about returning to U.S.A.?

Cross at the big bridge (Puente Juarez Lincoln, or Puente #2), where southbound I-35 ends. It is directly over the immigration office with the big Mexican flag. You can get all of your paperwork canceled there if you wish (at Modulo CIITEV and the immigration office).

Tourist Visa: you can cancel your tourist visa if you wish, but in the many times we have gone into Mexico, we have never canceled nor turned in a tourist visa , expired or unexpired. A tourist visa is good for 180 days, and you have already paid for it, so let it be an enticement to go again. We have heard that at least one other person has had difficulty with not having an exit stamp in his passport on one trip, but that is highly unusual.

Vehicle Permit: generally there is no reason to cancel this until it expires. If it expires, you will have to cancel it before getting a new one. In some cases you might want to cancel right away. For example, Jim thinks he might be selling his vehicle, and doesn't want to make an extra trip to cancel his vehicle permit. Be careful: you can never get another vehicle permit until your current permit is canceled. Sometimes you can also get it canceled at your local Mexican Consulate office without driving back to the border, but that is really hit or miss. To cancel at the border, there is a line for cars outside the immigration office that you just drive through without needing to go into the building.

Alcohol: The following is typed verbatim from a flier given to Tone at customs on Dec. 31, 2009.

  • Texas Resident: 1 quart of distilled spirits, 3 gallons of wine, and 24 twelve oz. containers of beer.
  • Non-Texas Resident: 1 gallon of distilled spirits or wine (or any combination of the two), and 24 twelve oz. containers of beer. Must have identification to prove out-of-state residency.
  • State Law: All alcoholic beverages and cigarettes imported from Mexico shall be taxed by the State of Texas.

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