Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21st - At the Border

photo: debra faulkner, a unitarian minister (originally from victoria, now living in toronto) leads our morning reflection the day of the border crossing.

it was somewhat anti-climactic on the usa side of the border with mexico .... homeland security (plenty of them) looked through various boxes on the many buses, and when they got to ours (the last one, the 'sweep'), they took a laptop. apparently they took a desktop computer from a different bus. that's it. they didn't check our passports, they didn't try to steal any huge amount of our stuff. they ran their big x-ray truck machine over our buses (we were standing in the corral so we wouldn't get fried), took the two computers, and let us go.

the mexican authorities sent in the army. kids in fatigue. they snapped on latex gloves - we feared cavity searches but all they wanted to do was look through the boxes of aid. this was after they asked us to leave the buses, one bus load at a time, and walk single file to the office to be processed. they were friendly and helpful, we got our transit visas, and walked back to the bus. our passports were returned to us as the next bus load walked single line to the admin building. then the inspection of the buses began. the latex gloved guys on the buses, the fellow with a wand like instrument that he used to scan the vehicles, the slave dogs instructed to sniff them.

bus loads of people and paperwork and inspections later, we are starting to load the vehicle that will take us into reynosa to our hotel. we were told that vehicle would be a bus, and that it would arrive in a half hour. that was a couple/few hours ago. a vehicle finally arrived, but it's not a bus, it's a small van. and a car and a truck. we're 120 people. it's gonna take a while. hurry up and wait - i learned that on last year's caravan.

our buses, filled with aid and the bulk of our personal luggage (except what we need for overnight in reynosa), will be held by the mexican authorities overnight. this actually saves us the worry of security for the aid, plus the hassle of parking the buses. we'll somehow be shipped back here in the morning to commence our day long journey to tampico where we'll load all this aid onto a cuban ship, and fly to cuba the following day.

while we were being processed, one busload at a time, the cuban ambassador to mexico arrived. he spoke to us, one of the caravanistas interpreted. he appreciates the work we've done to bring all of this to the cuban people, and they're very grateful. the united states has a beautiful history, except the last 50 years with the embargo. wait a minute ..... i couldn't possibly have heard that correctly. i asked a young bolivian/american afterwards and she said she'd have interpreted it differently. she'd have said the usa likes to tell people about its beautiful history. that makes more sense. and my african/american brothers and sisters agreed. there's not much about the history of the usa that's particularly beautiful. apparently the unofficial interpreter also missed the part where the ambassador said the blockade is an act of genocide against the cuban people. hmmm.

who knows when i'll be able to post this blog. maybe not until i return from cuba. i'll collect my writings, though, i still owe a chunk of change to the canadian government for this ability to write clearly and comprehensively, so i might as well make the most of it.