Smooth border crossing; only papers reviewed were our passports (glad we didn't spend $600 on health certificates for the dogs, and they didn't even check the vaccine records we brought). The bikes and grill must've made us fit some camping stereotype for travelers because once they inspected the box Phillip built to hold the kitchen and be a bike rack, they weren't concerned with any of our other stuff. One agent did lift a corner of the bed and then seemed to agree with my conclusion that it's too much hassle to get into the storage tubs below, and he waved us through.We asked how to get stamps in our passports, having heard we might need those when we go to the consulate in Morelia to buy our actual temporary resident visas (see earlier post). Waiting and filling out that form took longer than our inspection. We left eager to get as far into Mexico as we could before dark, with nearly 700 miles to Morelia.
We stopped for fuel, bathrooms, letting the dogs out (they haven't noticed we crossed a border, by the way). An hour into this trip we reached the edge of the borderlands, at least in the sense that we came to the checkpoint at which they check vehicle import permits. "Isn't that part of our temporary resident visas?" I asked, and showed him our approval. "No." But we already have Mexican auto insurance, we're so official, it seemed to me, so I showed him our proof of insurance. "No." We had to return to the border.
As we drove we realized all this did sound familiar, but the process of moving to Mexico has been slow and often imprecise, and we're really sleep-deprived (see last post).
We drove back, had to pay US$1 per page of copies and needed copies of all sorts of things, including our van registration. At first we could only find last year's, and had flashes of horror that we might have accidentally left it in files in my parents' barn. In that case we would've either gone back to the US and applied anew for temporary resident visas (our current approval is only good for one entry to the country, so we really need to get to Morelia and buy our official cards) or waited for my mother to find and FedEx the registration to... where? The hour we spent between border and vehicle checkpoint was nearly sin servicios. Desperately, we explained that we had an up-to-date plate, could we just show him? "No." One more search...yes!
Oh, stress and sleep deprivation do not bring out the best in us!
So now we're back on the highway hoping the sun sinks ever so slowly and we can drive out of Nuevo León before dark (considered a particularly dangerous place to be).
Still, grace. As we left San Antonio today we realized that when we'd applied for these visas in Atlanta we expected to cross in Nuevo Laredo and she put that in our records. Later Phillip read that crossing by told road a few miles away in Colombia would be easier with less traffic since many people avoid the US$3.50 toll.
We called the Atlanta consulate and left a voicemail on the visa line asking if this would make a difference. After I hung up I realized I said our names but not our phone number. Even so, Consular Maria called us back to say, "it won't make a difference, have a great trip!" (See earlier post about this friendly, helpful official)
Why am I surprised when people are so kind and helpful along this process? Oh right, because in the US many people first feel suspicious of anyone who wants to be in our country.
One of many reasons we are drawn to Mexico for this van-dwelling permaculture adventure is to increase care and interest across this border. More soon - love from 3 hot dogs and 2 tired humans