SMr Road Trip Mississippi to Nicaragua
Day 4 - October 6th - Brownsville Border Crossing
We awoke at the crack of dawn and fed Shakira her morning coffee. Amanda and I had dealt with our fears from the night before, Eli never having doubted or faltered. There are three bridges going out of Brownsville that cross the Rio Grande into Mexico, all having slightly different facilities to handle certain types of travelers. Our situation required us to test all three of these border bridges. The second and biggest crossing we tried named "Veterans Memorial Bridge" was where we learned a few lessons about crossing a border with multiple vehicles and a trailer.
Three gringos, a trailer packed with goods, and a KLR 650 Kawasaki sport bike bumped along all wrapped up like a sloppy burrito in a brown tarp. Shakira's shiny white "antique" license plate was the only marker that we didn't belong in Mexico. We rolled into a solid concrete border crossing with several lanes to choose from depending on the type of migratory status you wanted to declare. We pulled up to the customs office to get our vehicle permits and insurance. The recepionista, a gorgeous Latina with a very tight black bun and bright green fingernails snatched our documents from us. She told us that one person could not import more than one vehicle into Mexico, and nonchalantly recommended that we falsify a document that would help us cross the border more easily. Surrounded by Mexican border officials, drug-sniffing German Sheperds, and two plump cleaning ladies who splashed soapy water on crow crap build up, we took shelter within Shakira's black limo-tinted windows.
We whipped out our Mac laptops and created a new document on Sierra Madre research letterhead authorizing all three of us the ability to drive Shakira across the border, in hopes that we would be granted the necessary permits. The recepionista sent us to her uniformed superior, a spectacled Mexican man with a quickly graying mustache, who firmly denied us our car permit. We decided that we had some problems to sort out and retreated to the comfort of an air-conditioned Starbucks back in Texas.
Amanda and I sorted out probable remedies to the long list of issues at the border while Eli headed back to the border for a second attempt at getting the permits. This time he thought he could schmooze a bit more and possibly have more of a chance if he appeared solo. Denied.
On his independent attempt at the border, the third guard of the day was about to wave him through before discovering that the VIN number on Shakira and the one on her title did not match. To our dismay, this could imply a stolen vehicle or forged title, which could have gotten us into some serious trouble at other borders. None of which is the case. Between 1982 and 1983 the state of Mississippi decided to change VIN numbers from 15 to 13 digits, foiling our plans crossing into Mexico 30 years later!
Eli returned and filled us in. We would not be able to travel with the trailer and motorcycle into Mexico, we needed a new corrected title, we needed SMr employee badges, we needed to catch a break! We sent a SOS message to our "SMr parents," Juli and Richard, to help us figure things out. We were sent north to San Antonio, to family friend of the Rhett's, Kirk and Ellen, leaving nothing but a long puff of black smoke at the border.