Saturday, June 23

Crossing the border

I am here. In Mexico.

My dad and I left Monday morning (if 2am constitutes as morning) and made stops in Redding, Modesto, Ontario and then Ensenada. We arrived here on Thursday but not after having my first interesting border crossing experience. How appropriate that my very first entry would be so interesting and time consuming!

We decided to pull into the "declare items" lane since my friend (and now co-worker) Brian was driving a trailer full of my stuff which would surely be inspected anyways. The guards had Brian and I write an itemized list of what was in my car and in the trailer and then they looked it over. My car and itemized list were immediately approved for exit ("Salida") but then the guard asked Brian for the registration for the trailer. Brian didn't have that paperwork with him...the guard proceed to tell us that we'd need to return to California to get the registration forms. By this time, it was already 5:30pm which means that any DMV (dept of motor vehicles) office would be closed, not to mention that even if we found an open one, California's vehicle licensing offices are notorious for long multiple-hour waits. It was at this point that we started praying that he'd just let us through.

He called this supervisor and talked for about 5 minutes before telling us that we can go on (thank you Jesus!) but next time we must have the paperwork! However we must first pay $800 pesos before leaving. And we must get a tourist visa for me as well. So we tromped around, paying the amount, filling out the paperwork and finally about 25 minutes later we were good to go.

So Brian drives his truck/trailer through the final guard stations, gets cleared to go and heads out. Then I follow up to the guard station, give the lady my "salida" document only for to tell me that I need a certain green form before I can leave. So I had to pull over, walk back to some office, and get this green form, all on my own limited Spanish comprehension...and who knows where Brian is. About 10 minutes later, I finally have the green form and am cleared to leave! Thankfully, Brian was waiting for me just outside the border and thus began out two hour trek down to Ensenada.

The first two teams arrive tonight. One from Bellingham, Washington and another from Toccoa Falls, Georgia. Thus begins the 6am-9pm daily schedule. On the schedule this week is a bit of construction, two Vacation Bible School programs, visiting an orphanage/girls home/boys home, and a special program for youth and for women.