When we arrived at the Georgetown airport this morning the weather was still at minimums. By the time we got ready for takeoff it had improved somewhat to 1-1/4 mile visibility and 300' overcast in light mist. We got our IFR clearance and the takeoff was uneventful. Progress was slow due to headwinds up to 50 knots. We spent most of the time in the clouds until the latter part of the trip when we broke out into sunny skies above the overcast that was a gray drizzle below.
There wasn't much to look at on this portion of the flight
By the time we reached Matamoros, there were only scattered clouds below and we were able to proceed to the airport VFR with 5 miles of visibility due to dust. The airport reported 27 kt winds gusting to 42 kts but it was pretty much coming straight down the runaway. By the numbers, this was very similar to conditions I had landed in at Georgetown a couple of weeks earlier. However, close to the runway it became apparent that the gusts were coming at a higher frequency, very strong, and made it difficult to maintain vertical control. It was the most difficult landing I have experienced.
In retrospect, when landing in gusty conditions, the approach is quite rough but when nearing the runway, the violence subsides due to the blocking effects of terrain, trees, and buildings near the runway. At Matamoros the terrain was flat with the airport located next to a lake, and there were no trees or buildings near the runway so the conditions at runway level were just as bad as on the approach.
We headed back to the tower, all the time with escorts to unlock doors for us. There were three separate offices in that area that we had to visit. First we got the Aircraft Entrance permit. For this I had to present the Mexican liability insurance papers, the airplane registration, and the airworthiness certificate. I expected to need to supply weight and balance information and a letter giving me permission to take the airplane into Mexico since it it partnership-owned. The official wasn't interested in the letter and didn't ask for the weight and balance. He made copies of the registration and the airworthiness certificate.
I was a little concerned that he had filled out the 4 copies of the airplane paperwork using my first and middle name and omitting the last name. He took the information from my new passport and the passport is misleading in the way the name is presented. On the passport, the last name is on the first line by itself. The first and middle names are on the second line. If you are just looking for a name and don't read the fine print, it looks like the full name is on the second line. I pointed out to the official that my surname was not on his documents but he didn't think it was important enough to do it all over again.
Next I went to the Comandant's office where he filled out my flight plan and he stamped some of the paperwork. He sent me to the Operaciones office to pay the airport use tax. I was asked for the weight of the aircraft because the airport use fee is based on that. The fee was only $13. This is the same guy that handles the fuel so I asked him to top off the tanks. Next I had to go get visas and then return to each of the three offices in turn for another round of stamping and to pay the fee for the airplane paperwork, and to pay for the fuel.
We were told that the immigration official was now in the terminal and we could get our visas. We returned to the terminal and found that he had not yet arrived. Apparently they had to call him and he came from his home or another office to process our visas. There was no other passenger activity in the terminal at that time. Evidently if you want to get a visa at the Matamoros airport on Saturday, it is best to be there in the morning. The immigration official arrived, was very friendly, and processed our visas. We were again escorted back to the tower offices where we visited everyone again. The airplane paperwork guy charged us 570 pesos for the Aircraft Entrance permit, the Comandant did some stamping and gave us a weather printout for both the Veracruz Airport and Puerto Escondido Airport, which was near the Huatulco airport where we were planning to fly the next day. The weather report was in the condensed format that I am not used to dealing with; thankfully it was only about 8 lines long. The Operaciones office charged us 1525 pesos to fill the tanks. That's $4.36/gallon, a reasonable cost. Fortunately we had pesos left from our last trip to pay the bill.
And we were ready to go after a couple of hours or so. We later discovered that in all this shuffling about we had somehow managed to miss paying our immigration fees.