And Then there was the Border….

If there is one thing that can intimidate the most seasoned of travelers is the, often lengthy process, of moving from one country to the next. Although we had read up and felt fully prepared to cross into Mexico well….. then there was the border.

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All of our loyal followers already know we just MIGHT have had an issue at the border, but until now the details were foggy. Well, here is just how it all went down.

We spent the day before dealing with our roof rack issue, but also verifying all paperwork was in order, the dogs paperwork was in order. We were full of gas and heading out of camp by 8am. We were ready.

We were not, however, ready for what transpired.  After several issues and a change of plans from crossing at Tecate, we choose to simply head in to Mexico at Tijuana, knowing that first thing on a Monday morning should present little difficulties. Our mistake came in believing we could enter through the vehicle lanes. Apparently, our particular border guard determined we needed to go via the bus/ truck lane. Fair enough, but she refused to allow me out of the truck to assist in backing Jim up and, when she motioned us to back up she was walking backwards with our truck, looking in the rear and, so we thought, watching for cars to be aware. Well you know what happens when you assume.

And then we heard the crunch.

Holy shit. We exited to find that we had collided with Dr. Luis Olivares and his honda, headed for his dentist office in Tijuana. Although barely moving, the collision had pushed his car to the side, and ripped off our right rear camper support, ripping some fiberglass and wood from the corner. We all immediately placed blame on the border guard but, as expected, she was having none of that, so, with no other option, we started the insurance process.

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In spite of the confusion and stress we were feeling, we were incredibly fortunate to at least have collided with someone who spoke excellent English and Spanish and was willing to call the insurance company and have the adjuster meet us all at his office while we continued our border process. This, for some unknown reason, required having the truck and camper scanned not once, but twice, along with the back seat of the truck sniffed out by the border dog.

The immigration officials were totally uninterested in our own dogs paperwork, however, and merely wanted them taken out of the truck so no less than three agents could snap their photo. Why? Not one damn idea, perhaps word that the Black Dog Chronicles was crossing the border had spread J

Luis continued his vigil while we finally got signed off from inspection and headed into the migration office to get our tourist cards in order. Next up, following him to his office where the insurance adjuster arrived promptly.

One lesson learned, insurance claims in Mexico are a breeze! In less than two hours we had our claim finished, Luis would be getting his cars minor damage fixed, and we had up to two years to fix the camper using our insurance, including if we wanted to have the work done in the US.

Do we regret crossing at Tijuana. Oh hell yes. Everyone we have spoken to since has crossed at Tecate and Mexicali and tells tales of a single lane, no issues, etc. Did the incident immediately throw us into a tailspin, causing for a night of stress and concerns on repair work? Yep. Did we briefly consider simply turning around and hightailing back into the US to get things dealt with before continuing south. You bet.

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And yet…. Now, only ten days later, while the situation isn’t forgotten, we are no longer fretting. Our two nights in Ensenada allowed us to take a much needed deep breath and realize it wasn’t too serious.  Heading to the sunnier and warmer Sea of Cortez and San Felipe allowed us to regain our good health and become immersed in Mexico time.

Now, sitting on a nearly deserted beach, at a remote eco-camp in Bahia de los Angeles, it produces barely a thought. We are going to continue with our couple of months in Baja and when we head back into Arizona in April to do our taxes and renew our tourist visa, we will simply take a few days to get things repaired and life will go on as before.

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Although very little has gone as “planned” so far on this road trip to a new life, it is proving to be a perfect example of the universe sometimes throwing you on your ass, but also helping you back to your feet, stronger for it.

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14 thoughts on “And Then there was the Border….

  1. Wow. You sure did have a rough start to your trip. I’m glad it the accident was easy to take care of with insurance. (Not withstanding the poor help from the border control who should not have let you crash together in the first place!) I’m glad things seem to have eased up a bit for you now… And am looking forward to more posts soon!

  2. Yo There Overlanders!

    Congrats on persevering in the face of adversity. Your border crossing would, I’m sure, have intimidated most folks into giving up. My first question is: Which Mexican insurance do you have? Do you have an agent you can refer me to?

    Secondly, after a month in Albuquerque, I’m champing at the bit to embark, but am still feeling hesitant about sojourning solo in Baja. Thus, am following you closely in hopes of picking up tips and such. I notice you’re not adverse to campgrounds, something I normally avoid since they often attract other people….and I like it quiet. But I’m wondering if that is really the safest way to go….at least until one gets further south like to Playa de Carmen and that area. Have you been there?

    Gute Reise!!!

    • Hi Michael.. we’ll have to check the name of the insurance company.. but we purchased it through Bajabound.com, who are reputable and give you several options.

      We have met travelers of all sorts.. solo, families, bikers, motorcyclists, so I don’t think you need to worry. Just be smart and do NOT drive at night.

  3. Whew… what a pain in the arse, but think of it as another lesson learned and how to be more prepared for future border crossings. Enjoy the beaches of the Sea of Cortez. So pretty. Are you going to Cabo? Makes me laugh when I think of it but the parking lot at the Cabo Costco has an incredible view – like nothing you’ll ever see at any other Costco. 🙂

    • pretty much:) Oh yes, we’ll end up at least passing through Cabo on our southern loop. I’ll make sure to check out the view from that parking lot!

  4. Thanks for sharing, and we definitely won’t be crossing the Tijuana border back to Mexico now.
    Enjoy your stay, check out Zapoltanejo if you get the chance, we will be back there mid year.
    Cheers, Kieron & Jackie Sullivan

    • Thanks for the tip and thank you SO Much for the “buy us a beer” hit!!! We did, indeed, buy ourselves a great pint last night in Loreto at El Zopilete brewing and gave you a little cheers:)

  5. Wow, what a start and what a bummer. We’re sorry you had to deal with all that on your first crossing. You seem to have adapted to a more ‘Tranquilo’ attitude about things really quickly, it took us a month or so to settle in to the new pace of life. You two are well ahead of the game. Enjoy your next few months in Baja, we really loved it there. John & Paula

    • Thanks for the kudos…. some days it didn’t feel like we were too tranquilo but we did slip back into the Mexico frame of mind pretty quickly.

  6. Thanks for posting the good and the bad about your trip. I’m enjoying reading the posts. Hoping to start a similar adventure and your experience is so valuable. Thank you. Have a wonderful trip. I hope you have no more need for the insurance! Buen viaje amigos.

    • Hi Cindy… thanks for stopping by. Do start your own trip… it’s a life changing experience!

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