Our first attempt at crossing the Mexico US border at Reynosa/McAllen…
Mexican border post?
We arrived at the Mexico US border at about 10:15pm after having been on the road for 12 hours and suffering a lot of stress as detailed in Mexico eviction by the army! Little did we know things were only going to get worse!
The bus dropped us off at what we assumed was the Mexican border post. We didn’t realise until we were talking to one of the border guys that it was the US side!
We were obviously concerned as we knew we had to get our exit stamp from Mexico and pay the exit fee. We tried to tell this to the man. We said we needed to go to the Mexico border post first. He wasn’t at all impressed and didn’t want us to leave. In fact if we had pushed any further I think he would have flat out not let us leave the border post. He didn’t believe us that we needed an exit stamp and said there was no fee.
I really wonder what sort of training these people have when they are on a border and don’t even know the rules for the other side. Usually when I cross a land border, the new country wants to see the exit stamp from the old country, not tell me I’m not allowed to get one!
Questioning at the US border
After we stopped asking about the Mexican stamp (we didn’t know what else to do except go along with it even though we knew we were right), a whole cartload of questions started. He didn’t seem to have much idea about anything as when we said we had spent a month in Mexico the questions started about how we could afford it. I told him it was cheap and he started asking us if we are independently wealthy. It really was a shitty time.
He initially didn’t believe us that we didn’t need a visa. He hadn’t heard of the visa waiver scheme. Thankfully, we were finally able to go into another room to get the visa waiver forms we needed. Here, we spent another half an hour answering questions and waiting while they all chatted together. It was very unprofessional.
They continued to ask sooo many more questions, that I was starting to worry that they wouldn’t let us through. I was very glad we had Erica’s details and that we were staying with a friend or it may have been worse. We also had dramas as we have a Syrian visa in our passport ready for our visit next month. It turned out that if we had already been there we would have had to have an interview!
Eventually, we paid our US$6 entry fee where we got more questions, then showed our stamp to another guy who had MORE questions and then we got out. Unsurprisingly, our bus had long left and since it was the last one for the evening we were stuffed!
Stuck in the middle of nowhere
So this is where panic set in. It was 11pm, the border is about 10 miles from McAllen the closest town, we were thoroughly exhausted and Erica’s phone was not working!!
Luckily we were able to get a cab and had to pay US$25 to get dropped off at a cheap hotel in McAllen. It was very annoying since we had paid for the bus who had dropped us off at wrong spot and then not waited! We were also extremely stressed that we had left Mexico illegally and thus also entered the US illegally….
The hotel we were dropped off at was certainly cheap but also super dodgy. All those Hollywood movies you see about murders and drugs in cheap hotels were going through my mind and not in a good way. The door didn’t lock very well either and didn’t feel very secure. I didn’t feel as though we had left Mexico as the owner only spoke Spanish! I had a very restless night.
Read the next part of this drama – where we end up having to cross the Mexico US border two more times to sort out our exit stamp problem in Mexico US border crossing – attempt two!
taxi to McAllen from border 20 minutes, US$25, Airport Hotel US$35
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