Saturday, October 17, 2009


So... here's something interesting.

Right now I'm technically an illegal immigrant in Mexico. Actually there's no "technically."

It was mostly an accident... kind of. I went into the Migration office, which I thought was the Mexican migration office. Through gestures, he asked me if I wanted a stamp. "Do I want I stamp?" Honestly, my passport is full of them and I'm still not really sure what they do. He stamped it anyway and typed something in the computer for a long while, finishing a chocolate-covered banana as he did so. Later, I discovered that he was actually checking me out of Guatemala, not into Mexico. So I entered Mexico without approval. In my defense, I did see the Mexican migration center by the bus station before I left, but no one was going in or out of the building. How important could the stamps be?

Are you still reading? Well done. Anyway, so we drive a half an hour into Mexico and stop at a second migration center. A guy comes in and inspects all our passports, stopping me because I had no stamp. I helplessly show him my Guatemalan stamp and will earn an Oscar later for my stellar performance when he told me that the stamp was the wrong one. Through gestures and my awful, awful Spanish, he tells me that I need to get off the bus and go back to the border. Of course I ask if I can get stamped at the migration center right outside the bus, but he tells me I can't. Really? Why was I allowed to ride a bus thirty minutes beyond the immigration point? I was very upset, but really was in no place to argue because I can't speak the language.

Fortunately, by the time I gathered my bags and almost got off the bus, he'd explained the situation to his supervisor, who told me I could just get stamped when I got to San Cristobal. That was wonderful.

But here's the kicker. We stopped at another migration center more than an hour later. I had no idea what to expect. It's so limiting, not being able to communicate with people. But he didn't even ask to see my passport and harassed some other guy. I'm so very confused, but grateful that things are working in my favor.

And let's throw in a picture that has nothing to do with this entry, just for fun.

Now I'm in San Cristóbal. Believe it or not, this was the better of two pictures.


Donna said...

Hi Jacob,
Are you now "legal", Please say that you are legal and all your paperwork is in order. I don't want to fly down and rescue you from some detention center-actually, it might be rather interesting since I don't speak any spanish, but I am a mother and that counts-even to guards at borders? I thought you were going on Tuesday.
Love you and be careful!

Donna said...

Zan was over here tonight and he said it isn't getting into Mexico without a stamp that is so hard, it is getting out of Mexico to come to the US without their "in" stamp. His company has dealings all the time with people there and he said to make sure you get stamped correctly. Love You! Mom
Now aren't you glad that I have your blog address!

Book Look Column Author said...

Listen to your mother - Sean learned that this weekend when his mom and mother-in-law told him to get to the ER with his right side pain. We were right and he had emergency surgery a couple of hours later. You can see details on Alyssa's blog. Have fun in Mexico (but take a local to help you with language and get an entry stamp)