Sunday, June 9, 2013

Morning Thoughts--Getting into the States



I am at my son and daughter-in-law's house now and yesterday we did a whirlwind tour of the local yard sales. Already I have too much stuff to put into my two suitcases.  I hope to rest today. I am not used to doing so much in such a short time.

Getting into the States was very difficult for me. When I went through customs in San Francisco they asked if I had just been visiting for a few weeks in Guadalajara. I made the mistake of saying I lived there and I saw the agents faces drop. So I tried to back track, saying I lived in Mexico a few months of the year and the States a few months. (Which is true this year.)

The two agents looked at each other and sighed with disappointment and pulled me out of the line. They made me put everything I had up on the table and the man very seriously asked, "Are you SURE you have NOTHING to declare before I start this process?"  

I started to panic. Was I carrying something that would get me into trouble?  I couldn't think of anything except toenail clippers so I said, "I have nothing to declare." And they went into my suitcases, taking out all kinds of personal stuff to show to the world. All the time I was getting extremely nervous because I only had an hour to get through customs and then the security check point and to the other side of the airport. I guess that nervousness made me look even more suspicious. But I passed and ran to the next check point. To wait. And wait. And wait while all the people with TSA security clearances went in before me. and sweat ran down into my eyes.

When it was my turn, the agent saw that I was coming from Guadalajara and he too pulled me out of the line and went through all my things. He even took out the little skull ceramic heads I was bringing for my son for a gift. He put a piece of sticky tape on one head and put it up to a machine to see what it was made out of.  Was he worried that it was cocaine?  Did I look like a sweaty drug mule?

Then he ran my suitcase through the x ray machine a second time.... I was really nervous by then because I was sure I was going to miss my plane. I ran as fast as I could to the gate. Of course, they were late and so I stood around for a long time before we boarded.

What a difficult day. I guess that people who live in the Guadalajara area are all suspects......   We are not to be trusted.....

16 comments:

  1. Yah, you look like a drug runner for sure! LOL! Good grief! I fly USAir from GDL to PHX and haven't had a problem. I try NOT to go thru San Francisco or LAX, even for a connecting flight to PDX from PHX. Did that once to save money by having 2 stops -- NEVER again! See you soon.
    Donna

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    1. Hi Donna, Thanks for the laugh.... P

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  2. Well, I hope you enjoy your visit! It seems like they always stop me or someone I'm with at airports, too! Hope you have nice weather there. :)
    Karen in VA

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    1. thank you Karen. I guess you and I look like shady characters.... P

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  3. They do it on domestic flights now too. I've had two flights recently when they've pulled my bag off for special swiping and scanning for residue. You don't even have to fit a profile anymore.

    JimS.
    Seattle

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    1. Yes, They went through my carry on bag and tested things and sent it through the x ray machine twice. What an exhausting experience. I hate being treated like a criminal. p

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  4. Awwww Pat ....how awful....you so do NOT look like a drug smuggler
    It's all about the fun of travelling now
    Sorry it was such a stressful time for you
    I hope you have a WONDERFUL time with your son and daughter in law
    See you in Sept

    Collette

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    1. HI Collette, Thanks for the vote of confidence. It will be fun in Sept. P

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  5. Wow. So sorry you went through that ordeal. But, thanks for the heads up because my wife will be heading NOB from Guad airport next month. She would have a nervous breakdown if that happens to her.Thanks to you, maybe she will be prepared with the CORRECT answers. AS for profiles, it is hard to say, if you see my pic, I am told that I look like a Columbian drug runner (I am Portuguese, and a former police officer). About a year ago, at Brownsville airport in Texas, I was transporting a rifle, two handguns and 22 pounds of ammunition in my check-in, and I "forgot" to claim one of the handguns. Would you believe that it was no big deal???? When I realized what I had done, the bag was going through the x=ray and I called out to the inspector telling him about the handgun, and he said, "no problem, just go get your paperwork and come back". I thought for sure I would have been thrown in the slammer without a key. But, it went so smooth, and no snags. After all, I was in Texas. If this would have happened in Massachusetts, where I am originally from, things would have been handled much different. Almost like 2 different countries. So, PAT, your hectic ordeal is over. Now relax and enjoy your family. We will hold down the fort here in Lake Chapala till you return.

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    1. Hi Al, Thanks for that story and the encouragement. I am already looking forward to returning to Mexico. I hope they won't give me as many problems is I had coming into the States. P

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  6. Welcome to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. :)

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  7. I travel into the USA about 6 or 7 times a year from Mexico and Central America and my name must have gotten on the "lets harass her" list about 3 years ago. The last year or so I have decided to refuse to answer any questions put to me by the CBP since I already know I am going to get sent to secondary anyway and treated like a potential drug runner (even though they have never once found any evidence of anything at all to suggest such a thing other than my travel patterns) I tell them I have nothing to declare and here is my passport, I am not answering any questions, please search my bags, end of story. They go thru my stuff and I am on my way. It seems to actually work out quicker that them going back and forth with 20 questions.

    I have traveled to more than 40 countries but never treated so badly as I am when I enter my own. It's sad.

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    1. Thanks for writing about your experiences. It is very sad that we are treated so badly when arriving in our own country. I guess I will just have to be prepared to be pulled out of the line and searched whenever I come back here and give myself plenty of time. P

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  8. You guys need to realize this is not a case of somebody "treating you badly". This is someone doing his/her job. This isn't a case of someone who just likes to be an a**hole, it's a developed technique to tweak somebody and see how they react. They do it because it works. In December 1999 an alert immigration officer caught Ahmed Ressam entering Port Angeles, WA from Victoria, BC with a car full of explosives. He intended to blow up LAX. Who would expect to catch someone like this in Port Angeles, WA on a ferry? She said she got suspicious because he was acting weird. Applying just a little bit of pressure sometimes makes people act weird enough to give themselves away. It's not you. It's their job.
    JimS., Seattle

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    1. Hi JimS, Thanks for writing. Yes, I do understand that but it still feels bad to be treated like a criminal. P

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