By Kirby Vickery from the May 2017 Edition
We are on our way back to Manzanillo. We pulled into Hermosillo this afternoon for an early break to the travels.
Ewa’s green Explorer was the vehicle of choice for this journey but it lies dead next to the RV in Coupeville, WA. It seems as I was putting in the last of $3,000 in repairs a transmission line let go inside the radiator and everybody wanted a thousand to eighteen hundred and more days than we had left up there to fix it.
We’re here in the Tomato Can even though it doesn’t have an operational cooling fan. The only time it gave us any problem was in San Diego when we got caught in rush hour traffic. We just pulled over and waited for about 30 minutes and drove on into El Cajon for the night. Kinda happy with it because through Phoenix and down this way we’ve had 100-degree weather and it kept going just fine.
So far everyone is fine. We visited with my daughter, April and her new husband, Eric. Then drove to Albuquerque to visit my mom and brother Gregg with his wife Monica. I wrote a quick essay on some of my experience with the Canadian Social Medicine for Monica at Gregg’s request and everyone had a good time.
I had been dreading going through the border with the Tomato Can. I had coordinated the initial articles in the Manzanillo Sun magazine some time back when the government changed some rules about vehicle importation et al.
Because of home front problems, my part in that project got changed to someone else and I don’t even recall reading how anything came out other than some expats were running all over the border states talking to this person and that and then getting this permission and that, etc. Actually, that was for people importing their autos and getting Mexican plates but I didn’t know that.
So, here I come with a little Ford Fiesta registered in Washington. Ewa kept telling me that we wouldn’t have any problems. But, to her, while on the road, there aren’t any anyway. So I worried.
I had crossed into Mexico in Nogales before when you flashed your passport or a driver’s license and they waived you through. Today was another story, however. We started by wandering through a maze of sharp-turning roads with dead ends here and there.
At one point, we were called to a stop by a sign that told us not to proceed unless given permission by a US Border Patrol agent. My problem with that was that there wasn’t a single person around to grant or deny us the privilege of moving from that point.
I had to take a chance and break the law thereby facing death by firing squad by proceeding without official sanction from my government. I half expected some dude in uniform to jump out in front of the car and having my windshield peppered with little holes.
It seemed strange to me that the US Border Patrol would even have anything on this side of the road because crossing into Canada from Washington you see the American side of things way off to the left and don’t go near any of them unless you’re coming the other way.
After circumnavigating this minimaze, we came to a two-lane toll booth affair with no one in the booths. It was then that I started to look to the Mexican side of things and all I could find were more lane endings and little arrow signs pointing either left or right.
After a while, we came to an open affair and a thin young man dressed in a black tee shirt and black jeans waved me over into an inspection area. He didn’t want to see any paperwork to include our passports. All he wanted was to peek into the extreme left corner of the trunk. He turned over a small piece of luggage and waved us on.
After that we traveled for about 15 minutes and I was getting worried that someone would spot us in Manzanillo and have us jailed for immigration irregularities. Ewa was too busy with her head buried in the GPS to give any help and Daisy was sleeping in the back.
We finally drove into a fork in the road with the signs telling me I should drive into the parking lot. Ewa decided that, as it was my car, I should do the walking, which I did. Actually, it was nice to get out and walk anywhere for a while.
I walked into the first building and found myself behind a man mopping the floor who directed me to a young lady in a strange (to me anyway) uniform. As we were the only ones in there, I attempted to make everything light and I smiled to her and thanked her very much. Well, she wasn’t having any of that and kept refusing to smile.
Anyway, she sent me back outside through another door to get “Copias.” Again, outside at the copy kiosk, he asked me some additional questions which I couldn’t answer, but for four pesos he made copies of everything he said I would need and then directed me to a third place with glass, see-through windows that had holes cut in them.
Again, I was the only one there and ended up with another young lady who had a sense of humor as long as I didn’t stretch her time out in any way. She charged my credit card some figure for the car and then charged some more for me. When she finished, I was broke but had a decal for my window and two receipts I was told not to lose.
She told me to go back to the first lady. Miss humorless checked over everything and went over all of it with a staple gun and told me to leave.
I went back to the car, dropped off the paperwork and signaled Ewa, who was out with Daisy, that I needed to go potty. I had to take some more change as these people had ripped out the toilet paper dispensers in the stalls, built a little table outside the confines and had little pieces of flattened out rolled up toilet paper available by dropping four pesos in a jar.
My god, I thought, what would happen if you pay for one bundle and then really need two or more while you’re sitting there. It amazes me how people sometimes don’t think. And, I guess, no one cares about the wadders. You know those that don’t roll the paper around their hand and then press it flat for that perfect fit but just wad it into a small ball and go for it.
I found the paper dispensers for the hand drying completely gutted too but it was so hot and dry it didn’t make any difference. Oh well. Next stop Hermosillo and points beyond!