Tecate, Baja California Norte – Illegal in Mexico?

We thought it might be a brilliant idea to choose a quiet border crossing. But some problems occur. First, there is no frontier guard on US side. But I have to return the visa cards from our passports to an American border officer not to get into trouble when entering the US next time. The nice officer whom I ask for the way to the immigration office kindly takes the cards. Then we drive through the opening barrier and we are in Mexico. Immediately we are in the middle of the city. No control, no border officers, but no stamp in the passport and no import sticker for the car as well. Help, we are illegal! There are some simplified rules for Baja California, but we will later enter the mainland as well.

I see a need for action and induce Joerg to stop. Some chaos arises until the border security clears away some cones to make room for Arminius. But where is the office? Some camouflaged soldiers only speak Spanish and wildly wave around, but eventually I find the entrance. The officer on duty has to turn down the TV’s volume to understand me, but at least he speaks English. He responds to my request for a tourist card with a lack of understanding: “But that’s 23 $!” After insisting he finally issues two papers and sends me to pay at the bank “down the road”. He doesn’t know anything about a temporary import permit for cars, but wants to ask his superior when I will come back. I already know this excuse and forget about the truck. We can complete these formalities in La Paz before shipping to the mainland. I hardly walked one kilometre when I yet find the bank. It is jam-packed on a Monday morning. I have to wait for a whole hour before I can pay the fees. Does Joerg already worry where I got to this time? Perhaps it would have been faster on a more frequented border crossing.

From now on we do everything wrong what we could do wrong in deathly dangerous Mexico. The American who is still brave enough to travel into his southern neighbour country knows two rules. First: Don’t let any Mexican exactly know where you go. Second: Cross the border early morning and make as many miles to the south as you can. We hardly make ten kilometres and we got an exact description to Fritz senior from Fritz junior. Now we drive on a dirt road behind Tecate into lonesome mountains. What if it is a trap? Ridiculous!

Fritz junior with the German name and the Latin appearance spoke to us this morning at the library. Afterwards we met at the bank directly in front of the border crossing where his sister Fressia works who drew a sketch how to find the Rancho Alpino where she and her father live. Fritz the older already waves his hand to welcome us, and here his Unimog 406 waits. Even after decades in the US and in Mexico the German’s Swabian accent is fluent. And so our first day in Mexico ends with a tour round the ten hectare big ranch where there are some potatoes and fruit trees, more dogs and even more wilderness.

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