Sitting here on my boat up in the Sea of Cortez
and after a good day's work installing the watermaker
and now relaxing here in the evening, I thought I would relate a story of my drive from Ca. to Mx. all went well state side. I crossed just east of San Diego
at the Otay Mesa crossing. I was told this was easier when crossing with a ton of boat gear
. They are set up as a commercial
crossing and are more knowledgeable about boat gear
I have a TIP (Temporary Import
Permit). The permit
clearly allows me to bring gear across the border without the 16% import
tax. Most of the gear were items that belonged to the boat while others were more generalized hardware
. Since I didn't have anything to declare for tax reasons, I went through the "no declare" line. The nice military lad waved me through and I was on my way.
A mile or so later, I was flagged over at a check-point. Lets call it check-point alpha. He wanted to look in the back of the pick-up, so I opened the shell to a knee-deep pile of boat gear and of course my Potabote on the racks on top of the truck. He was clearly lost
as what he should do. With a smile, he said "Gracias" and I was on my way. I was travelling on a Saturday because I had been informed that this was the best day as things tend to be a little more relaxed.
There were many other check-points...bravo, charly, delta
, echo foxtrot and so on. Each
receiving a little cash each time. Funny
how I kept thinking...oh oh...this is it...they're going to want "tax" money
. It never happened. One check-point was a young lady, sitting in a federal truck, texting and waved me through without so much as laying eyes on me.
So as you see, the import process was pretty cool. But let me tell you about Mexicali. I had heard, being a border town that it had become pretty corrupt. I guess the story is, when Fox ran the country, everything got semi cleaned up. But here is an interesting thing that happened to me there while driving down. First, Mexico's GPS
maps are very inaccurate. You can be driving on Mx. Int. 2 and on the screen
it shows you 500 yards away from it. Needless to say, I got lost
once. Finally, I got my bearing straight and passed a familiar church....again. So I know I had done a big circle.
What became strange were the Police. One would get on my tail, so I would change lanes. The PD car had difficulty changing lanes and gave up. I thought..."Hum...I wonder what that was about"? 2 minutes later, I notice a Motorcycle cop. Not the usual 1985 Yamaha 185cc. No...this guy was decked out on a brand new 700+cc white stallion bike. I have heard the cops have to buy their own bikes. If that is true, he was doing pretty good.
He was back 2 vehicles from me and in the 3rd. of 4 lanes. I was in the 2nd. lane. The speed limit was 60kph. I was doing maybe 65 with cars on both sides of me passing me. As the cop came closer on my left, I noticed him looking at the back of my car. Ah ha!...California. He whipped around the left of me, scooted up 3 cars and then cut off traffic to get all the way over to the right into some kind of alcove. I shrugged it off as strange but hey...I'm in Mx.
Not 15 seconds later, He was on me with lights on. I pulled over and he explained to me that I was speeding and this was a serious infracsion (Spanish). He pointed up to the 40kpm sign and the one english
sign under it, written in English
stating..."controlled by radar". Technically, I had not reached the 40kpm. indicated sign but oh well. I will also add both the speed and radar
signs were brand new and very shiny. Unlike everything else in Mx.
Here is the conversation that took place. For humor
reasons and the fact I have no idea of this guys name, lets call him the Big Burrito in Blue, or BBB.
BBB: Espanol Senor?
CS: No Sir, not a word (not exactly true)
BBB: Oh Senor...big trouble today. You infracsion...very bad. You too rapito.
Then BBB starts telling me how much it will cost. I play dumb as I'm trying to figure out what this guy is really after. I'm hoping for the best and expecting the worst. He keeps telling me the fine is $100 US. I keep saying...Pesos?, pesos?
BBB: Oh no Senor (and ten walk back to his bike, opens a saddlebag and brings back an empty ticket book no less.
He rights at the top 1098 pesos and below it $98 US. I keep playing dumb, scrunching my face up all the more. I can see at this point he is becoming a little irritated with this dumb gringo.
BBB: Maybe Senor, we go Policia Stacsion. (Perfect...this should show if he is legit or not.
CS: Oh Si Senor...I follow you. (At this point he is clearly perturbed).
BBB: No Necesario amigo. We fix here. (and points again at the $98 us.)
I pull out a 20 peso bill with my face scrunched up again and he is clearly loosing patience with me. I'm feeling this could go badly soon and I have a truck full of boat gear that does not need to be impounded or lightened up.
Finally he writes $60us. So I try one last time to barter it down by pulling out 3, 20 peso bills ($4 us). He blurts out...
BBB: United States money
. (my...his English has improved). I look astonished...
CS. Oh Senor....so much (as I'm slowly pulling out 3, $20 bills)
He slips his gloved hand into the interior
of the cab to conceal the transaction. I immediately hold the 3, $20's outside the window for all Mexicali to see. He quickly grabs it, rolls it up and assures me justice has prevailed.
The only place I feel where I had gone wrong was telling him my destination
. I had a feeling that he might call his buddies ahead for some further fleecing. While pulling out the $20's I was trying to conceal the many larger bills I had with me. But all was well and I made my destination
, although $60 lighter and a fun story.