Je bekijkt de reis...
18 december 2016
We figured out I had 2 options, being in the US illegal or trying to do something about it. The first option sounds attractive. It wouldn’t cost anything, lot’s of people are here illegal, and since you don’t check out when you leave the country, it would be unlikely that anyone found out. However, if they found out, the consequences are quite high. Second option, doing something about it, consists of going to the border, cross into Mexico, and cross back. In our minds 3 scenario s could happen. First, I would not be allowed to get back. Unlikely, right?? Second, I would be allowed back, but only until my first 3 months run out. Third, I would be allowed back, and be able to convince them to give me another 3 months.
Though I really need to do some Bayesian modeling to figure out which option to take, I doubt if my priors could be informative. Google research resulted in strange stories, e.g. a German woman that asks the online crowd what she should do, she produced a kid in the US, wants to go on holiday to Brazil, her visa runs out, should she get married, or just not go on holiday? These and other bizarre stories can be found, but I can’t find any advice from people who tried my plan, so the chance of success, unknown. Unknown s result in As this results in uniform distributions, and due to time lack, I decided not to model my problem, but just discuss it with Leigh.
So, here I was, taking a train to the border 10 days before my visa ran out. I brought all my stuff, so that in case I could not come back, I could find myself a place to stay and Leigh would have less stuff to worry about. He would paddle the bike alone to Mexico, while I party at Tijuana and finishing some papers. Second scenario we would bike together for about a week, and I would take a train to the border, finish like scenario 1. Third scenario, I take the train back, and we do the pacific coast together. (and spend Christmas together which otherwise would be devastatingly sad, a feeling I didn't really have, but a sentence I was prepared to use with some tears in case the border agent needed some extra persuasion. Americans love Christmas, you should see some of the decorations :) ).
I arrived in San Diego around 8.30 pm at the Santa Fe train station. The train was supposed to have internet and I planned to book some accommodation from there, but unfortunately that didn’t work. I found a Starbucks but it was closed and I got chased away by some security guys but was there long enough to find another Starbucks. This one was still open, so I could just buy a drink inside without causing trouble, and started looking for a place to stay. Leigh, who managed to be online, emailed me about a youth hostel where he once was, and it appeared to be very close. I went there, and they still had some free beds. They even had a shower, which is a bit of a luxury for us these days.
The next morning, I made my way over to the border. Public transport works great here, so that was easy. With a knot in my stomach I followed the line of Mexicans that were heading back to their homeland. Would I be able to get back?
Getting into Mexico was easy, the lady who let me in was friendly. I’m used to Vietnamese, Canadian and US border officers, all of who I find not very friendly and very aware of their power. If you ask them one question, you get send to the office for special cases, and you stay there for at least 3 hours. Anyway, ola Mexico!
I went around the fence and followed the line of Mexicans that were heading into the US. The line was stuck, no movement. After about 15 minutes of not moving, I saw 2 officers dragging a handcuffed guy away. The knot in my stomach grew a little. Mexicans are short. I felt like a blond giant with no place to hide. Some caucasian looking people bypassed the line, but I decided to stay where I was.
Shortly after that, the line started moving. I got through a gate, the point-of-no-return gate. I got to the desk pretty fast. “How long were you in Mexico?” “About half an hour.” I got the look, the one with one eyebrow slightly elevated. I read online that visa runs are not a good idea, so most people go do something for a couple of days to a week before they cross again. We discussed that I would go do that if needed. However, I decided to be honest and just explain my situation. The girl that dealt with me seemed really nice, like the type who would think bike trips are a cool waste of time. She said that they could not help me there, but I would have to go to the new facility, did I know where that was? No. Someone was going to have to walk me there, and make sure that I didn’t get “lost.” She tried to find someone and eventually joined me herself.
We got to a new looking building, and I was dropped at the desk of an Asian looking man, that could have easily played a nasty general in a war movie. Yikes. I tried to ignore the knot that returned to my stomach, and explained the situation again. I couldn’t figure out if he was going to help me or send me away, and wondered if he has a side career in a casino? After lots of talking I eased a bit. His attitude was quite nice, nothing compared to his comrades at airports. He made a file in which he wrote that I was biking and gave me another 3 months!! Yihaa. As soon as I saw in his face that he made up his mind, a big smile broke through his authoritarian face, and he asked me if I was stunned by the beauty of Utah. Yes I was.
After all was done, another girl brought me through a lot of doors, always walking one step behind me except when punching in a code, to where I started about 2 hours earlier. Mission accomplished, no tears needed, back to Leigh :).
18 december 2016 08:06 | Door: Jaap
Yeah, so you guys can still celebrate Christmas together :-).
18 december 2016 12:49 | Door: sijmentje
hello have a merry christmas and a happy happy new year. bedankt voor het delen van dit avontuur.
18 december 2016 15:18 | Door: Raoul
This is why telling the truth, is the right thing to do. (It helps to be a European on USA-Mexican border or so I'm told.)
Happy Holiday’s from The Hague.
18 december 2016 19:38 | Door: Marjolijn
Een gelukkig einde.. Hele fijne kerstdagen!
19 december 2016 09:01 | Door: Jan Roelof
Enjoy Christmas, and all the festivities. And paddling down south together.
You're truely blessed to be able to. Do you need visa's for Mexico and any of the other countries you will be crossing?
19 december 2016 16:45 | Door: Erin
Great story! Have a merry Christmas :-)
19 december 2016 17:42 | Door: Diana
Phewww! glad you made it! . By the way, you should start working on your Spanish, Hola is written with a H, not a big deal but it looks nicer ;)
happy Christmas to you and Leigh!
19 december 2016 21:34 | Door: Ton van der Weerd
Een prachtig Annette verhaal. Fijne feestdagen.
20 december 2016 08:53 | Door: Wilma
Wat een verhaal!
Hele goede kerstdagen met Leigh, en geniet van je verdere fietsavontuur!
23 december 2016 10:38 | Door: Marleen
Fijne kerstdagen en alvast een heel goed nieuwjaar toegewenst.
2 januari 2017 16:40 | Door: Outdoordaan
Fijn dat je weer on tour bent Annette! Happy new year!