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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

New Travel Book Except: How To Move To Mexico

How to Move to Mexico with Most of Your Pets and Other Companions By Don Adams

eart-to-hearts can take some strange turns when you’re discussing the move to Mexico. For instance, what shall we do about Spot and Fluffy? Or Tweety? And then the subjects of companionship, loyalty, affection, adoration, obedience, cleanliness, and a multitude of other related issues worm their way into the conversation. Then the discussion often returns to the subject of smelly beasts. Which is how the monkey came up. I can’t give you a specific or precise report on exactly when or how the fuzzy little booger became the primary focus, but once it was on the table there was no turning back.

I mean it’s not like I ever pay any attention to it any more. I couldn’t guess how long it’s been since I even touched the thing. And technically it’s not really mine anyway. Plus it’s kinda ratty and flea-bitten and stinky and way past its prime, and the last one I had ended up making a big mess in my bed, so leaving this one is all for the best as far as I’m concerned. The other one? She ran out of the jungle by Camp Tien Sha one morning in sixty-six and scampered up my leg and draped herself across my shoulder as I was coming in off patrol. I kept her for two days and in that time she managed to wet my bed, pee on my CO’s starched and pressed fatigue-covered shoulder, poop in my lap, and spray a fairly substantial mist on the guy in the bunk below mine. The Marine who bought her seemed to be quite pleased with both her and her filthy personal habits. We sailors remain fastidious even when forced to live in proximity to those rowdy guys.

Obviously the Mexican government and I see eye to eye on the subject of monkeys crossing the border either way. I say why bother, and they say definitely no, unless you’re a researcher or licensed importer.
However, there are a number of other lifeforms you can bring across the border and actually tote back with you if you decide to leave for whatever reason. Say you’re a snowbird. Or you have a really short attention span. Or you happen to mess up and get involved with a married woman. Or a single one who wants to change status. But back to the less dangerous creatures for a few minutes.

It’s not like this is a really complicated process guys. Say you want to bring your dog or cat with you when you come down. I didn’t have that option because it seems that every woman who sends me packing insists on keeping my pets and my bank account. I just waited ‘til I got here and picked two kittens out of an assortment of eleven in a box at a private animal shelter, and shortly thereafter I was gifted with a one-eyed hand-me-down shaggy dog and thirteen thousand fleas. No evident pedigrees in the crowd but I suspect their bloodlines might be at least as distinguished as mine. After all, they don’t have to pry information from aged toothless cousins twice removed about the alleged lascivious behavior of great-grandma.

Mine was evidently a real stepper. While sergeant great-grandpa was locked up by the Yankees during the late War of Northern Aggression she managed to get some of the newer kids tapped into the native American blood stock. And on the other side we get to claim kin to Luke Short, the Pinkerton detective and weasel. You can stop and read the newspaper clippings posted in the Ft. Worth stockyards area next time you’re in town. Reportedly he backshot City Marshal Longhair Jim Courtright right out in front of the White Elephant Saloon in broad daylight back in the wilder and woollier days.

But we were discussing you and your own animals weren’t we? Here’s how easy it can be. Call a local veterinarian and ask if he or she has a blank Interstate and International Certificate of Health. If so, arrange to take Screechy, Scabby or Jacque’s Golden Queen Canadien in to get a check-up and clearance just before you leave town headed south. Theoretically this paper must be issued within 72 hours of the time you reach the Mexican border. I’ve been unable to find anyone who admits to having been asked for it, but you should never anticipate any variations from the written word. You should also never anticipate that the written word actually means what it says, or will be interpreted in any sane or rational manner on either side of any border.
You’re also supposed to have a pet vaccination certificate showing that Gimpy and Drooley have been inoculated against rabies, hepatitis, pip and leptospirosis.

If they do ask, the long, festering scratches on your face and arms will not convince the Customs officials that your animals were actually inoculated. As a matter of fact they may cause you problems in trying to cross the border. Some aduana officials might feel that anyone crazy enough to try to restrain a cat while someone else shoves needles into it is a bit too unstable to be let loose in Mexico.

The law says you’re supposed to have proof of these inoculations. In this matter I recommend erring on the side of caution. And using a vet who has a sack to stick the cat in during "treatment", although even that’s not always effective. The last time, and I really need to stress the last time, I bathed Max I had him tightly wrapped in a towel until he felt the water on his furry little feline frame. In less than nine seconds he was free and still mostly dry and I was looking for some alcohol to clean the numerous deep wounds that suddenly appeared on various parts of my body. But back to your problems and concerns.

The US State Department says that you’ll be charged a fee when you and the menagerie hit the border. They also said "No need to get Reno and Justice involved; everybody will have forgotten all about that Cuban kid by lunch tomorrow".
Load ‘em up, head ‘em out.

You may have a pet carrier or cage for those critters or you may let them run wild in the car as you’re hurtling down the highway hoping they don’t distract you at an inopportune moment. You may have them attached to a long rope so they can run alongside for the exercise. Maybe you have them strapped across the hood so you can keep an eye on them. From past experience I can assure you that most of them will usually thwart any attempt at gracefully moving them over great distances. Pirata is a good traveler, and some of my semi-honest friends claim the same about their pups, but unless you´ve already taken extended journeys with your pets and know their travel habits, I suggest you devise some way to restrict their movement.

As far as cats are concerned, I have only four words. Tranquilizers. Strong. Cages. Strong.
That spazzy little bird? No problema. I read somewhere that someone said that you can legally bring four canaries into the country. If you’re planning on transporting four canaries down here I suggest that you first go to bed in a very dark and quiet room for several days and reassess your entire life. Or move to Sonora. I won’t be living there.

You know you’re going to let Tweety have free run of the interior of the car while in transit. That’s how you bird people are. One of three things may happen. Your bride lets the window down for just a sec to shoo an insect away and you react to her scream and look over just as Tweety’s butt makes its last appearance in your life as he disappears through that slit. You slam on the brakes as you’re looking over your shoulder to see which direction he’s flying; your right front tire slips off the pavement, and the Volvo flips end over end twenty-three times.

Or, Tweety’s flitting about the interior, enjoying the trip, when suddenly he tires. Oh look! Here’s a perch; right on Dad’s face. He’s a tiny parrot, this rare Egyptian Speckle Headed Asp Killer, but his talons are long. And sharp. As he lands gently on the bridge of your nose, feet fully spread for a good grip, you swat wildly to alleviate the torturous pain, and as you do you swerve just a bit to the right. Your right front tire slips off the pavement, and the Volvo flips end over end twenty-three times.

Or as you’re hurrying through that miserably hot strip of desert real estate, Tweety falls into a swoon. Quickly you snatch him up to administer avian CPR because your spouse of the past thirty-two years is rhythmically screeching "Do something! Do something!" and as you bend to the task, something both the AAA and the CAA advise against at any speed above zero, your right front tire slips off the pavement and the Volvo flips end over end twenty-three times.

There is actually a small chance that you’ll make it down here with folks, pets, and Volvo intact. I lost way too much on the Trinidad - de la Hoya fight, so I'm sitting out betting on this one. I don't care what the odds are.
Assuming you actually get those little darlings down here, what can you expect? Let’s run down the list. You’ve probably heard the stories about how at worst the Mexicans mistreat animals, and at best are apathetic towards them. Sometimes. Maybe. It all depends. There are two sides to this question and the gringos don’t always fare too well either but right now let’s just concentrate on what’s available in Mexico to you and Scratchy and Fishbreath and Moldy. In most towns of even moderate size you’ll have at least a couple of vets, and maybe a groomer or two. If not, the vets usually shampoo and clip.

Sometimes the cuts look a bit odd. Sometimes they even embarrass the dogs. The vet is never embarrassed. His hair usually looks really good because he can shop around, and can afford to pay for a decent cut, but you’re stuck with whatever his skill level may be. Just as in the US or Canada or Taiwan or Ethiopia, skill levels and dedication vary. Ask the locals who they use and make your decision accordingly. If you see a really hilarious styling job make damn sure you find out who committed the crime.

All the services are available. I’ve had animals spayed and neutered; I have friends who have had to take both dogs and cats in for dental work; I personally know of three dogs who received chemotherapy down here; and other surgeries are routinely performed. Pirata had one eye surgically removed after it had somehow been displaced and damaged. No problems. One friend had a carcinoma cut from her whippet. No problems.
As far as food is concerned, it all depends on where you live. In various places you’ll find Iams, Science Diet, Waltham (Whiskas and Pedigree), Alpo, Purina, Diamond and Hagen, as well as several other Mexican and European brands. And there are plenty of carnecerias. Higado is liver. Hueso means bone. You can also further explain yourself if you’re paranoid. Para mis perros, if you suspect he thinks you’re really going to use them for dinner, which I’ve done. Some butchers will strip that bone cleaner than a surgeon’s fingers, but others will leave enough to feed three dinner guests. Just don’t brag about the low cost of the main dish. If you ask for dog bones and the carnicero barks, smiles and goes to the back to retrieve a different slab of meat, flee. And never return.

You’ll be able to find kitty litter, although the next person who says anything close to "Is it clumping?" anywhere within my range of hearing had better be wearing track spikes and be proficient in their use. Get a grip, people. A cat is gonna poop and pee in this stuff. Period. If you’re that concerned about clumping capabilities you should probably stay a lot closer to your therapist. Daily round trips from Morelia or even Monterrey are going to really wreck that budget.

You’ll have a wide choice of leashes, choke chains, whips, quirts, harnesses, muzzles, collars and other assorted goodies, and they’re available in a variety of colors and materials. They also make the same types of products for your pets.

All the standard medications are available. My critters are all nationals and get their vaccinations locally. Sometimes I even ask the vet to give me one too. Hey, hepatitis is hepatitis.
Fleas are pulgas and ticks are garrapatas. Flea and tick sprays, shampoos and powders are widely available, although I’ve never understood why anyone would want a pulga or a garrapata for a pet, nor how they groom something that small and disgusting.

If you insist upon bringing a bird, and keep in mind that his brain is smaller than a pimple, you’ll find cuttle bones, seed, water disinfectant drops, toys, cages, mirrors, bells, the whole nine yards. Just don’t plan on legally taking a bird back north. Not the one you brought down, not the one you might buy down here, not the one you found in the yard and nursed back to health, nada! It can be legally done but unless that little bundle of fluff lays golden eggs, is talented enough to open for Wayne Newton, or is a close blood relative, it might not be worth the effort and expense.

If you’re determined to bring Molt Master with you, and if you return north for some reason and want to bring him along, you need to go to the US Customs Service website at and to the US Department of Agriculture website at for the official rules and costs. There seem to be only two places which are equipped to deal with the processing of your birds, and there appears to be a considerable investment of time involved. Check it out. Canadians will also want to look at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at
At present there are fees for bringing your animals and birds back into Canada, as well as a minimum forty-five day quarantine period for birds, although they might let you quarantine that little disease toter at your house. You can look at for even more bad news.
That’s about it for now buckaroos. Come on down, bring lots of feathered and furred friends, or maybe consider adopting some down here, and enjoy life as it should be lived. You shouldn’t have many problems, assuming that she really does sell that monkey.
His Email:
This is an excerpt from Don’s new book Head for Mexico --- The Renegade Guide
Available at and at
© Don Adams 2002 (*This except October 2003)


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