Roberta and I live half to two thirds of our lives outside the U.S. We have a home in Cabo, and have been going in and out of Mexico as much as five to ten times a year, every year, for decades. We also have been crossing into Europe, usually France, Italy and Spain, virtually every year for decades. Prior to this trip I had to add pages to my passport because there was nowhere else to put stamps, and that was on my NEW passport. Over the past few years we've been to dozens of countries, including countries like: Taiwan, China, Croatia, England, Bermuda, Honduras, the Bahamas, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Italy, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Japan, Russia, Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.
I mention this only to say that what Christie and Eric suffered through, was very unusual. I guess we have been lucky, but through all of the hundreds of times we have encountered immigration and customs officials, we've had only one negative experience, and even that wasn't particularly horrible. 99.9% of the time, the customs and immigration people, in every country, have been friendly and helpful. There have been plenty of times when there has been more paperwork than I'd like, but that's just how it is. We are legal residents of Mexico, and consider it our home, but it is amongst the worst we've ever dealt with.
I do think that sooner or later we'll catch an immigration official on a bad day, and we'll get the 'full treatment.' But, I don't spend a lot of time agonizing over it. Thus far, I can only say good things about the immigration and customs personnel, in the U.S., and also in the other countries we have visited.
My last book, summarizing our cruising last year, in central america, does have quite a bit of the bureaucracy we had to deal with. It was frustrating and time consuming, but that's just how it is. You can worry about it, or just relax, smile, and put up with it. I do believe that countries should 'do what they need to do' to protect their borders.
There is one part of this I do worry about ...
In some third world countries, the police, the military and the coast guards, are more dangerous than the crooks. There are parts of the world, where if you see a boat load of the local military arriving, heavily armed, while you are deep at sea, in the middle of nowhere, you need to think about whether to stop or not. And, sometimes, the boats which contact you, claiming to be military, actually aren't.
I will feel much differently on this topic once I am the victim of harrassment while crossing a border, but at least for now, it's something I can smile about...
by Ken Williams on Sep 08, 2009, 07:48 AM EST