Friday, June 30, 2006

Bush, the border and me and my wife

Sweet Mexico. Always a bit sad to leave, but it is rather nice to be back in front of the bay where I can feed my gull friends in the morning hours. Sometimes, just before the sun rises, I walk to the edge of the bay and talk to the jellyfish that gather. I do not know whether or not jellyfish have ears, but they tend to hang around while I rant or try out new poetry.
But to the point, my wife and I recently came back to the states after two nothing-less-than-fantastic weeks south of the border. Way south.
Normally, we drive, but this time around decided to bus it again. Not a bad way to travel when not in a hurry, but believe me, you will be ready to get off the thing immediately upon reaching your destination.
Crossing the border is usually a simple process. There is a checkpoint about 26 miles from the actual border. The bus will stop and an armed man in a uniform will board the bus and ask for everyone’s ID.
I am generally half asleep around then and flash my passport, then wiggle around and try to snooze just a bit before crossing and having to deal with US customs-type people. Bear in mind that I am speaking in terms of the return trip here.
Nobody ever has asked to see my tourist visa. Ever! My wife had suggested to me that we should renew ours as they were about to expire and I assured her that it would be senseless to spend the extra cash on something that never gets looked at.
The armed guy walked up to me and asked for my passport. I smiled and handed it to him and he smiled and handed it back. Then he asked me for my tourist visa. He also asked to see my wife’s visa. I gulped. Maybe he would just glance at it and go away. Wrongo.
He asked me if I spoke Spanish. “No,” I replied. (I may not be fluent, but that was a slight little fabrication a my part.) I figured at this point that being a stupid American might work to our advantage.
We were sternly asked to get off the bus and go to the office. The office was a small white room with a small white desk and a small white sofa with a couple of magazines on it that provided the only color in there.
Another armed man in a uniform entered and, unfortunately, spoke very good English. Time to bluff. The visas were only 7 days bad and I tried to tell him that we thought they were good for the entire month. Actually, they were good for 180 days and we had used them a couple of times. We knew this, but hey, who knew what would transpire. Nobody EVER asks to see those things.
So now, as an ironic twist, my wife and I were pretty much illegal aliens in Mexico. How’s that for a reversal of roles?
He told us that the fine would be $300.00. “What?” I practically bellowed.
I told him that we had nowhere near that amount and that we surely could work something out.
His voice rose a little and he said that we would need to gather all our belongings from the bus and prepare to spend the night detained and that maybe in the morning we would be more willing to pay the fine.
I gulped. We literally had between us roughly $25.00, half of it in pesos.
He then told me that he would do us a special favor, just for us, and let us go for $20.00a piece. I gulped again and explained that we were broke and that all we had on us was all we had until we could get to the other side of the border.
He slammed an open palm on the desk and said “Right here and now! $20.00 a piece!” He then opened a drawer and showed us a passport of a man who had been detained for the same reason.
At that point, I figured there was enough money for my wife to go and I would stay behind and see what happened. At least I would have somebody who would pretty much knew where I was and could see about getting some money and getting me out.
Maybe it was the expression on my face, or on the face of my wife, but he patted me on the back and took what we had and told us to get back on the bus and that he would never grant us such a favor again. I shook his hands and smiled as we boarded the bus. I whispered to my wife that we had gotten off cheaper than if we had done things legally. Her sense of humor had taken to hiding. Even in the semi-darkness, she managed a glare that spoke “What were you thinking?” all over it.
Later on, when we awakened and were speaking of the morning’s ordeal, we both could only surmise that there must be a crack down on North Americans these days at the border that is largely due to the current U.S. administrations idiotic approach toward immigration and Mexico.
It was indeed my fault that we let our visas expire, but there has to be a bit of reciprocal logic to the shakedown we received in the little white office in Mexico.
Just when I thought I could not respect G. W. Bush any less.
I’m glad that my wife thought to buy a few “Pinche Bush” buttons while we were down there.


Blogger Teatrista said...

wow...Last time I was in Mexico we were driving back to the capital and along the road nestled in ditches was a highway-cardboard community-these little shanty towns along the strip. To my horror, on the shoulder of the road, I saw the carcass of dog being eaten by another dog. In a nut shell- that image is Mexico right now. The officials are so corrupt high off of US capitalist dope, there where conquest residue is left in your mouth, when indios will always be the color of dirt and euro blood is a high brow nod. Dog eat dog, those officials are the mafia that have been murdering the women of Juarez. I remember being pulled over in Juarez riding with my Dad as a kid, he told me not to leave the car even if the cop asked me to. I saw money exchanged, he came back in the car shuddered a bit and we drove off. My uncle and aunt came to visit for a while because one of his friends, business associate, was kipnapped and murdered. I am glad you made it - could have been WAAAY worse.

1:11 PM  
Blogger ANDREW M. said...

whew! nice to hear you both made it through that ordeal - shirts still firmly on backs and all.

the way we (humans) deal with one another is so frustrating. imaginary lines hammered into place by rand mcnally clearly stating what's "your's" and "mine" and where we should all stay put. mike watt said it the best: "open boarders, open minds." the second part of that quote being the most needed component to make the first a reality.

the powers that be dumb down these issues so much that they make them seem so hopelessly complex when, in reality, the solution is painfully simple: treat EVERYONE with compassion and kindness. if everyone made a pact to stick to that, what would the world look like? makes ME smile...

by the by, i'm back online and spieling on live journal this time (i'm giving blogger a rest for a bit.) HERE is a link. take care.

8:36 AM  
Blogger sarah joy said...

I just read your entry 'a new millenium signature from the likes of 1980'--- i found it after doing a search for The Fort Worth Cats on google. I've grown up in FW (though i've recently moved to Boston) and bought Earthquake at O.K. Corral yesterday based solely on the fact that I liked the album artwork and the band name-- it was my vinyl 'chance buy' of the day and something I told myself I could always return if it sucked. Turns out it's pretty sick and actually a nice little chunk of fdub history. anyhow, it was pretty awesome to find that blog and get a nice, solid explanation of what the hell this lp was, haha. thanks, sarah joy

9:57 AM  

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