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Road trip from Florida to Cancun

Day 1: Fort Lauderdale to Tampa

So what is it REALLY like to drive to Cancun? - by Scott Wilson

Join me on a road trip from Florida to Cancun. I've documented the entire journey so you can see exactly what it is like. It took 7 days to drive but could have been done in 5 days if really pressed.

You won't find a lot of tourist type pictures here... just raw info about road conditions, what to expect, documentation, and photos of critical things like crossing the border at Brownsville and Matamoros.

Most of the images are clickable so you can see a larger one

Day 1 - Depart Fort Lauderdale for Tampa

Click to see a larger image We begin our journey just north of Miami Florida in the city of Fort Lauderdale. It's 19-May-2005 9am.

Alligator Alley (now Interstate 75) runs across the Everglades towards Tampa. I am driving a 1999 Acura with Florida tags and I've double checked all the documentation so we won't have problems at the Mexican border. The car owner is with me (a requirement when entering Mexico). Tires are good, brakes, belts, hoses, tune up... everything in A-1 condition.

Alligator Alley

Not much action going on in the swamplands of lower Florida. It costs USD $1.50 to cross Alligator Alley.

Frequent rest stops along I-75 give you a good close up look at the Everglades. A very natural and undisturbed wildlife habitat.

Approaching Tampa

Road conditions are excellent but there are no rest stops with food so bring something to eat and drink.... and gas up in Fort Lauderdale before you hit I-75.

I got to Tampa from Fort Lauderdale in just under 5 hours. It's about 7 hours more to Pensacola but I was not pressed for time and wanted to do some shopping. Since I live in Cancun and rarely get a chance to shop in Target, Circuit City, and other fun places... it made sense to fill the trunk with "toys for boys"... ie: my 19 inch LCD monitor and other goodies.


Day 2 - Tampa to Pensacola Florida

Day 2: Tampa to Pensacola Florida

In 2005 it seems that many of the US hotels have broadband Internet... a critical requirement for me since I am a programmer. Many have WiFi.

Many of you Cancun locals will recognize Roxanne... a California girl that lived in Cancun for 18 years and recently moved to Pensacola Florida. I asked her to compare her new life in the US and what she said made a great impression on me. "Scott, I have all the amenities here and a fabulous salary. I love that and my kids are doing really well in school... but it's a bit boring here compared to Cancun." THAT is one of the key points of life in Cancun that is difficult to grasp... in Cancun you are guaranteed NOT to make a lot of cash but you will certainly have a very interesting life. Friends here are friends for life.

It is a constant battle in your head in Cancun to desire the things you miss the most... a 'normal' salary, Arby's, Target, eBay, Victoria Secrets, Starbucks, short lines at banks, electronics and toys. You give up those things to live in Cancun, but you gain nights sitting under a palm tree with real friends, goofing off on a Tuesday afternoon, and relentless summer.

Shortly after Roxanne arrived in Pensacola, a hurricane hit and wiped out much of the area. But, due to American ingenuity and the drive for excellence, 90% of things are back in order and life continues.

I was greatly honored to see Roxanne and Henry again. All of Cancun misses you both.

The USS Oriskany sits in Pensacola waiting to be sunk. The Oriskany was scheduled to be sunk 22 miles off shore and become the world's largest artificial reef. Plans to sink it before the hurricane season (starting June 1) were delayed when the man in charge of reviewing the environmental impact of the artificial reef died in January.


Pensacola is home to the Blue Angels, a world class US Navy aviation team.


Next: Click here to continue for Pensacola to New Orleans

Jump to: Brownsville/Matamoros - Crossing the US/Mexican border

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