Monday, September 1, 2008

Roasting a pig

Crossing the border between the Mexican city of Tijuana and the American city of San Diego remains an extraordinary experience.
It is very chaotic to say the least.

But this time a new layer was put on it.
The first immigration officer saw the passport of the Netherlands and wanted proof of the ownership of the Fuso Szulc.
Next he directed the Fuso Szulc to a waiting area where two inspectors came promptly to check on drugs, arms and everything else that is illegal to bring into the USA.

The next step was to obtain an I-94.
This is the tourist visa every foreign visitor gets to enter the USA for three months.
An immigration officer explained that this was the last time an I-94 visa could be obtained at the Tijuana border.
They had stopped this service.

It means that a non-American who comes by car at the Tijuana-San Diego border has to park in the town of Tijuana and take a taxi to the office buildings at the Old Port of the American Immigration Service.
There the I-94 can be obtained after which a taxi brings the adventurer back to the parked car.
Then the border can be crossed by car as the immigration officer will see the passport in which a fresh I-94.

Which foreign visitor is going to know this is the new procedure?
And this is of no concern of the Immigration Authorities.
They simply send back foreign visitors until they show up with the I-94 obtained elsewhere.

This is a weird situation of course.
That in a free democracy organised in a technical sophisticated way, it is not possible anymore in one major crossing place to simply enter the country as a tourist.

Some thinking will be needed for a possible next visit to the USA through Tijuana-San Diego.
Leaving the Fuso Szulc in Tijuana city to go up and down to an American office building is no option.
Tijuana is a city with a very high crime rate.
Besides, the whole procedure will take a day if successful.

As life makes sometimes unexpected twists and turns, the first evening in the USA was at a pig roasting party.
After having been in Mexico and in retreat, it is one series of astonishments to be among wealthy people celebrating Labor Day.
With a lot of food and wine and the Jaguar Cabriolets and Porsche Cayennes parked in the shade.

There was a swimming pool and because it was very sunny and warm several young men and women walked around in swimming clothes.

Remarkable to see that most young men were heavily tattooed.
And young women as well.

It was an opportunity to make interesting pictures and even the camera was at the shoulder.
But the whole atmosphere was not that it was likely that freely pictures could be taken.
Privacy issues.
Children in swimming trunks around.
Private property.
A large party with many people maybe not all wishing to be photographed in that situation.

In any case, nobody was making pictures.

This sensing that making pictures would not be appreciated was either correct or something inside the photographer.
To avoid any disturbing of the hospitality the camera was put back in the car and discussions were joined about the current political situation in the USA.

The discussion partners were heavily divided.
In Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
This was OK because the discussion was friendly and without aggression.
And everybody agreed that Sarah Palin was a political choice and that in the USA important changes had to be made.


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