Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Mexican Tourist Cards – A Lesson Learned

January 31st, 2013 | Posted by Brianna in Mexico | Speedbumps
Cacti in Baja

So, this again...

You remember our small oversight at the border? Well it bit us in the ass yesterday. Let me tell you all about it.

The morning began in the dark in part due to the fact that it was 5am when we woke up, but also because San Juanico was powerless again, so we made due with a candle and a flashlight as we showered, cleaned, packed, and hit the road for La Paz. After following some poor directions and making a couple of stops to ask again, we found our way to the Immigration Office where we had previously read that we could purchase our Tourist Cards by a paying a fine. I explained our situation to the woman in the window and in the half second between my finishing and her responding, everything froze. Even the cheerfully wispy clouds and happy rays of sun that had graced our day so far looked over from their relaxed perches in the sky as if to say, “Um… no.” In rolled the ashen thunderclouds and ice cold breeze. They were there, of course, to tell us that we were fucked. Awesome.

The long and short of it is that a November policy change means that Tourist Cards are now only available at the border, no exceptions. No longer can we pay a fine to get the Tourist Card, that aside from being required, is also absolutely essential to getting our auto import permit which allows us to take our van to mainland Mexico. We missed our quick fix by two months. If that was the case, why didn’t the border patrol officers ask to see our passports? Because, our attendant’s supervisor kindly explained to us, they don’t care if we got what we needed or not;  they are just there to keep the process moving as quickly as possible. Well that’s mighty efficient of you, Mexico.

So now here we are, tackling one mile after the other, heading back up the Baja Peninsula. We will miss our ferry and instead take the Sunday trip, unfortunately stealing three days away from our month in beautiful Guanajuato and the first Super Bowl we ever remember missing. We will pay for three additional nights in hotels rooms, spend $200 more on gas, lose three full work days, put 1,838 extra miles on the tires, and endure 34 unwelcome hours in the car, all as consequences of our seemingly small oversight and needless mistake. All that said, we have had plenty of time in the car today to compile a list of positives as well, and we are finding ourselves very grateful to have our health and each other (this little detour is really not that big of deal), appreciative of the lessons we’re learning along the way, far wiser in regards to immigration than we were a month ago, enjoying a different perspective on the Baja drive than we had before (you know, this time we’re driving north instead of south), catching a glimpse of a wild bobcat, and maybe, just maybe, already laughing at ourselves for a story that we will certainly remember for years to come.

Update: Wondering how it went? You can read about our trip back to the border here.

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