Friday, May 11, 2007

Viva Mexico!

Taking the long dirt road south and west of Flores, I headed in the direction of a border with Mexico called Bethel. The guy at the garage said the dirt road would take two hours, perfectly timed to coincide with lunchtime for all the country`s officials so I made sure I gave it my best shot. I made it in an hour (Grrr, do I sound like Strikingviking?)

Arriving at the immigration office (well actually, speeding past it, then backtracking a bit) I got my passport exit stamp in a couple of minutes but there was no aduana though. Hmm, I´ll deal with that later. Outside, a mouthy local started offering the use of his boat to cross the border river for $40. I didn`t actually have $40 on me and managed to talk him down to $20. And with our agreement sealed, he then shouted over at what I took to be his dopey son to bloody well get on with it. The place where the boats are is up the riverm about 10kms north of the immigration office and when I got there, I found a wide river with loose pebble beaches on either side. Lurvely. I got there before the son, so I started walking over to a couple of other guys with similar boats to check them out when the son suddenly screeched to a halt in the pickup. He had got someone else to go and get the boat and a couple of minutes later, a young lad of around 15 showed up in the motor launch. So with the help of these two and another kid who looked about 8, this motley crew set about getting Herr Bertie into the launch which was no mean feat in the heat of the day (mid 40`s).

Pishing sweat, we finally managed to get the beast up the ramp and into the boat and following one of my shortest ever boat trips, we arrived in Mexico. Just one thing, pull Bertie backwards up the planks and get him on to the nice, loose pebble beach. This time, it proved a little tougher so we enlisted the help of several more locals to finish the job. That done, I paid up and repacked the bike on the beach. Wayhay I thought, Mexico, kicking up the side stand and pulling the bike upright, it went straight over the other way and landed on its right side. For the first time, I was actually glad of the smirking spectators whom I quickly enlisted to get the bike upright once again. Wayhay Mexico etc. And more carefully than normal, I edged my way along the pebbles till I hit the actual road.

I found the Mexican immigration office quite quickly, bloody hell, I thought, this is a bit easy. After parking up and walking over to the office, documents in hand, I found what I can only describe as being very similar to the vacated offices I have been to so many times in my line of work to carry out a Dilapidation inspection. Rubbish lying around, old bits of knackered furniture and out of date calenders on the wall. Except this one had a mattress on the floor. There was a scruffy, unshaved looking man (like I can talk) sitting behind the window desk munching on mangoes and making a right mess of the desk.

"Er, Aduana y immigration?" I proffered.
"Si, claro" was the reply with bits of mango going all over the place.
" Em, no, esta Aduana aqui? I tried again.
"Si, tranquillo, tranquillo"

Usually when people tell me to be tranquillo, I want to punch them and seeing as this guy was clearly mad as a hatter, I went across the road to one of the touristy restaurants. I´d seen a few tourists zooming about the river in boats so I know there must be some sort of official Immigration office around here somewhere. Looking like I`d been sprayed with yellow dust from head to foot and then given a liberal covering of sweat, I walked into the restaurant full of smartly dressed, lunching tourists to speak to someone who might actually know what they were talking about.
"Si, si, esta" said the waitress pointing across the road to the building I`d come from.


As I was walking over to office, a car pulled up outside it and a smartly dressed OFFICIAL looking person got out and went into the office but before I could even get near to the window again, a huge tourist bus full of Germans marched out and went straight to the window where the official started stamping every one of their passports. Bloody marvelous! I sat on my bike giving each of the tourists the evil eye (behind my sunglasses though).

I hate every last one of you

When he was finally finished with the tourists, I quickly lept up to the window, just in case he decided to shut for a second dinner or something. Amazingly I got my passport stamp sorted easily enough however he confirmed that there was no Aduana there and to try in Pelanque. He went outside to chat with the madman who was now picking limes off a tree, and after pissing up against his own office wall, he disappeared in his car.

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