Border Déjà vu

Trip Start Jan 04, 2010
Trip End Jun 30, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  , Baja California,
Thursday, April 1, 2010

With never an opportunity to be missed, our trip to Mexico served two purposes. It was a nice little get away from the constant driving and it would hopefully provide an extension on a US visa that was almost up. When Morgs and I entered the United States we meet with a lovely Customs officer in Miami. She was ever so kind as to give me a 6 months holiday visa and Morgan a 3 months business visa, knowing all too well that we were staying and traveling together until the end of June. Honesty proves to not always serve you well. Morgan told her his intentions in the US were to complete a course and for holidays. She decided for him that the main purpose he was there for was business and didn't give him the 6 months visa that she, two seconds before gave me. It was a great start to our holiday but as the saying goes, where there’s a will there’s a way. So with this story in mind I take you on our journey to the border City Tijuana, Mexico.

Before entering Mexico we read numerous news articles about the drug cartel wars going on at present and they warned visitors to be vigilant. This has been going on for years however but recently gotten worse with a few kidnappings and police officers being shot. It has effectively chased away the American tourist which has proved terrible for the Mexican businesses in Tijuana. We did our research and were very cautious about where we stayed and where we visited whilst being there but we never felt threatened or uncomfortable but it was a very dull four days. Revolution Avenue in Tijuana is vertically a ghost town. I was lead to believe it used to be one of the most popular holiday destinations for Americans as it’s so close and cheap, yet there were barely any tourist in site. The Mexican merchants were still on the streets outside their shops hustling you to come in side "just for a look" or to “find a present for your mother in law”. It was very comical but also so darn annoying as the same routine occurred outside every shop, one after the other and if you did go inside they would then follow you around the store pointing out a million things that you might like and that is “very beautiful and a good price”. I can imagine when there are heaps of tourist flowing through the streets that you wouldn’t get targeted by everyone of them but it was just ridiculous when we were there. We ended up avoiding all of the shops just to avoid the constant harassment. We ducked into a Mexican Restaurant and bar, which I can imagine would be fantastic when busy. They had a band walking around offering to play for you and an extensive cocktail and drinks list and it was all so cheap. We ordered a few cocktails and some burritos and enjoyed our lunch out on the balcony overlooking the street. I wish we could say that we did more in Mexico but apart from some meals out and a visit to one of the shopping malls we didn’t do a whole lot that would be worth mentioning. I hope for Tijuanas sake that the drug cartel war ends soon so the tourist can come back. I can imagine it would be a hell of a fun place if only there we some people there to party with!

So we packed up and walked towards the border. Morgan and I were quite anxious about the visa situation. We weren’t looking forward to being questioned by the American custom officers about the now expired American visa. I approached the counter first and handed over my passport to the visa page. He saw the stamp and the date that told him the visa expires in July and thanked me and sent me on my way. Morgan approached the counter with his passport and turned it to the page where it was stamped and the visa date had expired. The custom officer glimpsed at it and thanked Morgan and sent him on his way also. Morgan approached me with a confused look on his face and told me that the custom officer just let him through without extending his visa. Whilst we were standing there pondering what exactly this meant, another officer approached us and told us we could not stand here, we had to make our way outside onto American soil. So ushered outside we then stood there looking at each other in wonderment. Morgan first words were “Shit, I am now standing in America illegally, without a valid visa to be here”. “What the hell do I do?” We couldn’t stay in America or we would be in all types of strife so there was only one thing left to do, we walked back to Mexico. We simply walked a couple of blocks down the road and crossed the border back in Mexico. 
Once in Tijuana AGAIN we headed straight for the American border entry to try our luck, hopefully with a more vigilant officer. As we walked through the immigrations gates one of the American officers guarding the gates recognized me and was just about to approach me when Morgan instead approached him. The guy asked Morgan “Weren’t you guys just here a minute ago?” with a confused expression on his face. Morgan explained to him the situation and said he needs to get an extension on his visa. The officer pointed us in the direction of an office building and said to chat to them inside. We were even more worried now however there was no need, Morgan walked up to the counter and told the custom official that he needed a visa extension and the man smiled and said “not a problem”, gave him a new visa form and told him to pay the other guy at the counter $6. We paid, went through customs to a different officer this time and enter the United States, this time legally! What an ordeal! 
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