Friend Marc Morneau said not a day went by when he didn’t get a message or see a picture or Facebook update from Ménard.
“Every day,” said Morneau. “He didn't have a cellphone so it was a bit complicated. He really needed an internet connection, but yes, every day, he found a way to do it.”
When Ménard, 44, told friends on March 14 he was crossing the border back into the United States after a three-month jaunt in Mexico, they expected they might not hear from him for a few days.
As the days wore on, though, they thought something was up.
Ménard’s projected itinerary was supposed to have him crossing the border in Nuevo Laredo, a notoriously dangerous town that shares a border with Texas.
Nuevo Laredo has its share of drug cartel-related crime and is home to Los Zetas, a powerful criminal syndicate said to be involved in, among other things, drug trafficking and kidnappings.
Last month, Nuevo Laredo’s police chief went missing and two of his brothers were shot dead in the neighbouring state of Nuevo Leon.
Nuevo Laredo, like the notorious city of Juarez farther northwest along the American border, is reputed to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world due to drug-related crime.
A group of Ménard's friends are travelling to Mexico this week in an effort to search for him.
He had taken a sabbatical from his job as a bus driver for the Société de transport de Laval, the city's public transit authority, and was scheduled to return to work tomorrow.
He drove down to Mexico in his white 1993 Pontiac Transport in mid-December accompanied by his dog, a basset hound named Maya.
He’d been to the country previously, with pictures from 2010 placing him in various areas of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Morneau said the most recent trip to Mexico was also his longest, and that he was passionate about Mexican culture.
Ménard has several Mayan-influenced tattoos on his body, including a large one that wraps around his left side.
“He said it was the most beautiful trip he had done in his life and he was coming back and was looking forward to telling us about it,” Morneau said.