Back in July last year, we reported on the incident where we “ran” the border coming back into the States from a day trip to Canada. Thereafter we were reluctant to take the motor home into Canada for fear of what US Customs might do to us on the way back into the States. We figured we were sure to be pulled over for a thorough inspection or worse so we did not go the Canadian Rockies.
Well, last week it was time for us to test a border crossing by going to Los Algodones, Mexico here in the Yuma area. (You actually pass from Arizona into California and then into Mexico). We parked in a lot just north of the border crossing and walked into Mexico. That part was just fine as we expected it to be. We are cross wise with the US authorities, not the foreign ones. Moreover, when walking into a Mexican border town it seems you don’t even have to fill out any papers or see any authorities. It was that way last year too in Nuevo Progresso across the Rio Grande in Texas.
We had a few missions in mind for visiting Mexico. The first was to have a nice Mexican meal. We had a recommendation for a restaurant very close to the crossing. We had a nice lunch. I had the classic combination plate as it seemed to be the only way to get a tamale which is what I really wanted. Gary was a bit more adventurous ordering the bacon wrapped Hawaiian shrimp. Why he wanted Hawaiian shrimp in Mexico is beyond me but they were quite tasty. They had live music even at lunch which we also found a bit odd as it was all American music including Elvis and Johnny Cash, Guess they don’t play Mexican music in border towns.
Then we headed off in search of something we really wanted from Mexico – Noche Buena beer. It is a special Christmas-time beer available only in Mexico. We purchased some in Nuevo Progresso and we wanted to buy some here before this season’s batch was all gone. We went into three stores only to have heads shake no. At the third store they told us of a place that could possibly have some in stock. We walked another three blocks, entered the store, and there in all of its poinsettia-boxed glory – two 12-packs.
We had taken a couple fabric bags with us just so we could carry it back across the border. We loaded them up and headed for the long line to cross back into the States. It was about an hour wait to get to the Customs checkpoint. We had some apprehension about just how they were going to react to us. Would there be a flag in their system such that we were going to be subjected to a body cavity search in retaliation for the grief we caused them last July? They processed people one at a time even if they were a couple so Gary proceeded to the counter first. He sat his beer on the counter and handed the officer his passport. He ran the strip through his machine, didn’t pull his gun or otherwise seem concerned, handed Gary back his passport, and he moved down the aisle a ways to wait for me. I proceeded to the counter, had my passport run, and got mine right back too. Almost as an afterthought, he said “what is in your bag”. So, I said a sarape and some beer. We had some concern that the sarape could be an issue as it had Packers insignia but he didn’t ask any further about it. The next question was, “how much beer did you buy”. I said, “a 12-pack”. To which he said, “and is that your husband over there who just went through and with a 12-pack as well?’' I responded, “yes”, and he said, “the two of you will need to go back to this other counter”. My god, what now, can’t we just have a simple border crossing? So the officer at this counter tells us we haven’t violated any federal law but there is this specific California law they have to enforce that says you can only bring back one liter of alcoholic beverage whether it is beer or spirits. Gary said, “can’t we just pay duty or excise”? To which, “nope, we must enforce California law and that is one liter each, I am afraid I must open all of these and pour them down the drain.” Gary then said, “can we at least keep 3 bottles or a liter’s worth each”? The officer said that would be ok and then proceeded to dump the other 18 bottles.
At least we got 6 bottles of Noche Buena for the price of 24. But another officer at the second counter was busily entering another incident report on us into the Customs computer. We are going to be flagged for sure now. You better believe we are going to savor these glorious Noche Buenas as they likely are our last for a long time.