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May 16, 2006, 4:30 PM

Post #1 of 5 (3171 views)


Border crossings in an RV

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If it were me - I must use this qualifier because you never know what will happen on any given day with any given person at the border - I would stuff the RV with all my worldly possessions and my multiple animals and I would bring along the pages of the menage with the lists and serial numbers of what I have. I would separate out the pages with electronic items + serial numbers and have that readily available. I would forget the menage itself unless told I needed one then I would produce it. Mainly I would be ready with a list of everything I'm moving and a special list of all electronics and serial numbers. If they ask you for the info on something, look at your list, find it and tell them. Don't volunteer anything not asked for until you get some stalling or denial *then* pull out the lists, then pull out the menage, then smile a lot more, shrug your shoulders and say this is what the consulate *told* me to do, use any other wiles or charm you have.

So, the bottom line is,
#1 don't volunteer more than you are asked for
#2 be very precise with the list of electronics, basically anything that is not permanently installed in the RV but that has an electric cord, have the number handy.
#3 smile a lot, looking nervous is good it makes them feel all manly and protective as long as you look the right kind of nervous.
#4 lie when there is no chance of getting caught or when any reasonable person would, of course, lie. SO, if asked if that computer is new, say "oh no, my darling son gave it to me last year because he got himself a new one. I guess the old one is good enough for mom". Do not feel bad when lying about what the consulate told you, they no doubt just make some of the rules up depending on how they feel that day or whether they like your attitude or not.
#5 If you can't think of a good lie or don't know what they want you to say, just don't understand them. It's sometimes helpful to answer a completely different question. So, if they ask you if you have any meat products inside, tell them you were born in Missouri.
#6 Always suck up to their great strength, manliness, power and greater intelligence. You can't go too far with this, the unbelievable will be believed.

Try to eliminate things that will immediately cause more investigation. New electric stuff in its original box is a bad idea. Any pet other than a cat or dog. Any live plants. I've recently heard that medical equipment can cause problems, one or two cpap machines - clearly used - are probably ok but larger stuff maybe not. Limit the amount of meat and fruit either fresh or frozen. Maybe leave a couple of pieces of chicken or some deli ham so they have something to take from you, makes them feel like they did something.

The great majority of the time, you will sail on through with little inspection. We always get a nominal inspection in the RV, I think it's automatic. But it can take less than 2 minutes or it can include actually looking into stuff. We've never had anything taken (other than some deli meat) and we've never paid any duty.

You can not overestimate the value of a good attitude. Smile and say 'buenos dias' or 'buenas tardes' when they first come out. They may speak excellent english and that may be the last thing you say in spanish but it is a good start. Do not get upset, agitated, angry (god forbid) or impatient. Do not feel you must fill in all silences, let the silence hang until they ask you something. Practise the zen art of waiting quietly, impatience irritates them and you will only say something stupid if you start babbling in the silences. Thank them profusely when they are done, smile again and get the hell out of there.

Don't celebrate until you are sure that you have passed the 20km checkpoint, sometimes the inspections are at the border, sometimes not, sometimes they will inspect you at the border and there will be another checkpoint down the road where the 'real' inspection happens.

If it all goes to hell, remember that you have the option of turning around and going back across the border. You can then try again at another border crossing or fulfill whatever they asked for and come back the next day.

As to which border crossing to use, it obviously depends to some extent on where you are coming from and going to. That said, commercial crossings outside of large cities are almost always the best. Columbia, Sta Teresa, Los Indios, Eagle Pass are the eastern crossings that we prefer.

Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán

(This post was edited by tonyburton on May 16, 2006, 5:12 PM)

Ed and Fran

May 16, 2006, 4:45 PM

Post #2 of 5 (3165 views)


Re: [sfmacaws] Border crossings

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That ranks up there among the best answers/advice I've ever seen here on MC.



alex .

May 17, 2006, 8:19 AM

Post #3 of 5 (3123 views)


Re: [sfmacaws] Border crossings in an RV

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#6 is my favorite. "You are the expert in these matters so whatever you decide is OK with me." The ruling is often in your favor.

wendy devlin

May 17, 2006, 3:06 PM

Post #4 of 5 (3091 views)


Re: [sfmacaws] Border crossings in an RV

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Great list, Jonna!

Except maybe the bit about lying. At least for me personally.

Been told I'm the world's worst lier. And proof has been forthcoming anytime even the most innocous or tiniest of lies has been told to any border guard. Evidentially it's in the face.

Busted every time. So now, it's the whole truth and nothing but the truth:)


May 17, 2006, 5:59 PM

Post #5 of 5 (3075 views)


Re: [wendy devlin] Border crossings in an RV

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Well, I generally limit the amount of lying I do to the US border guards. I think the ability to detect a lie is somewhat culturally related, it's more difficult to tell when someone is lying if you don't share the same native language and upbringing. All those non verbal clues are not the same from one culture to another and of course, in a second language you are often not sure you really understood exactly what they said or that you understood their slang.

It's a drawback and a gift, I often use that cultural/language confusion to get me on my way when dealing with military or police stops. We call it the 'dumb ginga' act and it works pretty well. I just never understand anything that I don't want to, requests for bribes fly right over my head along with anything else I think is a bit uncomfortable. I smile, shrug and repeat 'no entiendo' until they get bored or frustrated and send me on my way. I always understand pásela.

You have to be careful with this technique though as it can backfire in a number of ways. You can piss them off so much they screw with you more or, if it is a necessary request and they can't let you go on you will end up in a much longer hassle. Still, it has its uses.

A friend of mine who was raised in Mexico but is german always maintains that you should never admit to speaking or understanding spanish when stopped by the transitos. He always talks to them in german as he says too many of them in QRoo speak english. Lucky him, he is trilingual.

Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán

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