Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Crossing the line is not as easy as it looks

So, apparently, crossing into Mexico from the U.S. is not quite a big deal. Not a big deal compared to, say......crossing into the States from Mexico!

Yesterday, Chad & I decided that we should just head to Nuevo Laredo today, since he's never been to Mexico.
Heck. We're this close to the border. Why not?

He checked a website that said we didn't need a passport or birth certificates to visit. So we plan to go today, just for a bite to eat & then head back.

We leave the hotel at 9:30 this morning, and we cross the border around Noon. There are ominous Mexican border control guards with automatic weapons.
Worried? Us?
No way.

We drive our little rental car (a 2008 red Dodge Charger that I really love, by the way!) through the main street, searching for a parking space. I'm telling Chad, "See?!?! It's exactly how I described it to you!"

We laughed that we got a parking spot for two whole hours for a mere quarter. Twenty-five cents, people! For two hours! Man, things are el cheapo in Mexico!

We discuss how we want to get back, so let's just eat some real Mexican food, do a little browsing & get back to San Antonio.

Ha. Riiiiiiiight.

We eye this nice little Tortaria (sandwich shop) on the main street, so we make our way over.
It was very...authentic. Paint peeling off the wall. An inch of dust on the wall hangings. You know -- all the makings for some real, tasty, authentically cultural cuisine.

Oh, and it was. It was delish!

We got to use our rusty Espanol, which I'm sure horrified the locals. But we did have a good time on our tiny excursion. Literally - we were in Mexico for a little less than an hour before we decided it was time to go.

We get back in the car, after being flipped the finger by a local on a park bench. Fun stuff!

We make our way to the first booth - nothing to declare. No toll. Great.

The second booth requires a toll of $2.25. Great.

We drive to another booth - over the river, and officially into the US.
I can see our beautiful red, white & blue flag flappin' in the wind across the border.
Well, this is where it gets a little hairy.

"Birth certificate or passport, please," stated the border patrol officer.

"Neither...we're just visiting. Less than an hour," Chad & I both say simultaneously.
Apparently, you don't need a passport or birth certificate to enter Mexico.
You just need one of those forms of ID to get back into the US.

We don't travel much. Unless you count Wal-Mart. which is kinda like another country in Johnston County.

We had already been in line for almost an hour. An HOUR! Someone's truck burst into flames while in line. I kid you not.
SO they shut down some lanes.

We watched the smoke change from a light gray, to a dark, black, sooty mess. Then we watched flames invade the engine, tires, cab...it was amazing to see how fast it all happened.
The firemen finally came and put it out. I really hope this guy had insurance!

Oh. Back to our delay...

We got searched. Twice.
No form of ID, except for our licenses. Red flag!
We can't supply our rental car agreement. Oops! Red flag!
Our rental car has Florida tags. Red flag!

So, we're escorted to the next search area. where we must get out of the car and remove all of our belongings.
We sit & watch, as the officers use a mirror to search under the car. We sit & watch as the officers knock and pound on the car in an attempt to find anything we've tried to smuggle into the country via the interior panels.
We sit & watch as the female officer tries to keep a straight face as she asks, "So, is this the only time you're going to travel to Mexico?"

She disappears for a while, and then returns & tells us we can leave.
We pull away. Pretty soon afterwards, we hear someone tapping on the back of the car & saying "Stop!" Ugh. Another officer wants to complete another search. All because of these stupid Florida plates. We explain that someone had already cleared us & we were let go after a few more questions.
I think the next time I return to Mexico will involve the words "Puerto" & "Vallarta".
At least Chad got to experience Mexico. We can mark that off the list. Phew!!!


Nikki said...

That makes for a great story! Better than my honeymoon story...they couldn't 'find' me in the computer in order to enter the States...Matt was cleared and had to 'move on.' I was left standing there all by myself! Scary!!

I hope you guys enjoy your vacation...have fun, eat LOTS of good food (and tell me all about it) and take tons of pictures!!

Brandy said...

Oh my! What a story! That truck on fire...wowzers! Glad you guys made it back okay.

Anonymous said...

What an adventure you guys are having! Sounds fun!!!


Aunt Carmen said...

I wish I had known you and Chad were going into Mexico and I would have warned you. Uncle Robby and I had a similar experience and we had Arizona plates. Robby bought some Motrin in a little dive pharmacy because it was so cheap and they searched everything and everywhere thinking we had purchased other drugs without prescriptions. Scary. I can honestly say I don't think I will go back. Hope you two have a good time on the rest of your trip. Be Careful!

Anonymous said...

That is quite the jaunt you had! One for the books for sure...

amber s

Christine said...

OMG!!! That is something you will NEVER forget!! Holy Smokes!!! And speaking of smoke ~ what was up with that truck!!! Holy Cow!!

Jessi said...

Oh my gosh...definitely something you probably laughed about after, but totally NOT while you were there! Actually, I probably would have been laughing, b/c I'm that naive and stupid, but DH would have been livid at ME for doing it :-)

Sip said...


man, i have some catching up to do.

first off, i will say that you got ripped off on parking. i was in wisconsin again over the 4th - parking was 5 (FIVE) cents (CENTS) per hour. top that, paco.

and i'm sure Mr Cruz would have been proud of your Spanish.

absolutely hilarious. i give chad props. abso-freakin-lotely hilarious. thank god the girls weren't with you - they probably would have thought you were trafficking children too.

and dont feel bad, they just started all that passport business for overland crossings like this year. or last year. whatever.

thanks for the laugh...

Sip said...

PS. at least they stopped short of cavity searches....or did they????

Emily said...

Holy Moly girl! That was definitely a mini trip you'll never forget.