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Some may wonder why did I get invited to drive my car to another country: smart USA started selling the updated car in September 2015. Smart Mexico as of this writing just started selling the new model. There was going to be a national gathering of smart cars in Mexico, hence the invitation from the smart club in that country to show off the new car.
Once I got everything ready the journey began driving southbound, crossing half of Kansas, all of Oklahoma and Texas entirely.
The first day I traveled from east central Kansas all the way down to Laredo, Texas. The next day I crossed the border at 5 in the morning. Crossing the south border into Mexico legally is more complicated than one might think: you need to go through customs to get a permit to temporarily import your vehicle, you need extra insurance to cover your car while in that country, proof of ownership of the car or permission from your lien holder, and finally, pay a deposit as a guarantee that you'll return the car to the USA.
The process takes time and money but once everything is clear you are free to drive everywhere in Mexico.
Now, driving in Mexico is a whole new experience: some people seem to like driving, let's say, briskly. Some people don't care much about the speed limit. What are you suppose to do? You need to blend in.
And the highways! Ah, those obstacles courses never fail to amuse you. But not everything is bad though, there are some brand new turnpikes where is hard to pass the temptation of speeding.
On my first day driving in Mexico I stopped in Monterrey where I met with another smart car driver and together we continued the 9 hour trek to the city of Queretaro.
After 24 hours on the road I had arrived to the hosting city of the 2015 smart Club Mexico National gathering, and I had to erase those 24 hours worth of mosquitoes and other bugs glued to the car. A local car wash couldn't keep its promise of cleaning the vehicle in 15 minutes despite the size of the car.
Once back at the event's site I got to feel what is like to be a rock star. Oh boy! Those stares, the thumbs up, the VIP treatment. It sure feels nice being the center of the universe, and all thanks to my smart car.
On the first day of the event there was a parade, a rally around the city, a photo shooting and of course good food.
For those not familiar with the brand, once upon a time smart cars came in different shapes and sizes, and sure enough, they were present there, so allow me to introduce you some other smart cars:
The next day we traveled in caravan - over 50 cars - to the neighbouring state of Guanajuato. Our destination: the city of Celaya. Once there we invaded the city streets. Facial expressions on the people were priceless not knowing what was going on with tons of little cars.
In Celaya there was a brunch followed by the awards ceremony. It was an honor receiving one for the "most traveler". Another photo shooting marked the end of the event. But my adventure was far from over.
I was 210 miles from my mother's house I couldn't pass the opportunity to visit my family, besides, I wasn't by myself anymore: the president of smart club Mexico was traveling with me. I didn't get a co-pilot, even better: I got a driver. Although we travel together until San Antonio, Texas. The trip back home took me another 24 hours divided in 2 days with help for most of the first day.
Now, let me tell you, I was surprised with the handling, the steering, the whole driving experience was pretty good. Once inside the car you forget the exterior dimensions, the high sitting position helps and the seats offered decent comfort. It's nice to have cruise control and cross-wind assist. And although the gas mileage is good (average 37 MPG the whole trip) having such a small tank (8 gallons) you have to stop to fill it up more often that you would like. But that's the only inconvenience.
Overall it was an amazing experience, I got to bond with my new car, I got to know new people with the same interests as myself and in the process I got to feel what it's like to be famous. It was for sure a once in a lifetime adventure that will live in my heart, forever.