The Border Crossing

After a false start the day before (i.e., a blown engine in Brother Mike's car), James and I finally make it over the border -- but not very far. Mexican immigration at the San Luis de Colorado office will not give me a tarjeta de turista, a tourist card, because I don't have my birth certificate with me.

I plead and even beg, and eventually the official, who speaks a little English, rubs his chin and looks introspectively out the window. There is a way, he tells me, but first I must go back across the border to a small notary public office and "ask for A. F. David."

I tell him that I still don't understand. "What will this Mr. David do for us? Do I have to bring him back here? How do I recognize him?"

Now the official is as confused and frustrated as I. "Just ask f or A. F. David," he says. "Bring to me. You get card for tourist."

Back across the border. We tell our plight to a U. S. border official, but he has absolutely no idea what we are talking about. He is a large man with just a hint of a Texan accent. He directs us to the notary office. We step into the U. S. and I turn back to him. "Hey," he says, hunching up his shoulders. "Their side of the fence; their rules."

We resume our search for the mysterious A. F. David. We locate the notary office, just a few blocks from the border. James points to the signs in the widows in both Spanish and English. He shakes his head and snickers. "Titles. Insurance....Affidavids." We enter and I tell the lady at one of the desks that "I need an Aff-i-david." She glances at my Washington State ID, relieves me of ten American dollars, and quickly types some info on a very informal-looking Affidavid of Citizenship.

Back into Mexico. More red tape. "Now take to bank. Get stamp. Bring back to me." He points east. "Two blocks," he says. We locate the "bank," which turns out to be a small, dusty window in the wall of a empty yellow room, at the top of a dark stairway. Our negotiations with the barely visible, barely audible lady ends up costing us sixteen American dollar each, but awards us our stamps.

Back to the Immigration Office. The offical is there, smiling. We show him the stamps and he gives us our IDs. His smile grows even wider and he stands and gestures with his hands as if offering us his country. "Welcome to Mexico," he says.

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