Saturday, January 30, 2010

Custom customs

It is not far from Los Angeles in the USA to San Jose del Cabo in Mexico.
Just a 70 minutes flight.
But it is going from one society into a completely different one.

That starts arriving at the airport and meeting the immigration officers.
In an open space with no security.
Immigration officers in bright shirts and no weapons.
Men and women that are friendly.
Who do not ask impertinent questions.
And give permission to stay in Mexico for 180 days when a tourist.

And then the visitor meets the "Aduana": the custom officers.
Where a questionnaire has to be delivered informing what one is carrying and bringing into Mexico.

Whether one's luggage is searched by the custom officers is decided by chance.
Each visitor needs to push a button.
That makes a light shine red or green.
If green, Mexico is open to receive the visitor.
If red, Mexico is open also but not after a custom officer has inspected the luggage.

In this case, the lady in front pushed the button and it was red.
So a feeling was born that it would be easy to enter Mexico.
How could the light turn red twice in a row?
The button was pushed and it was not green.

On a large table the luggage was placed and everything was taken out of the suitcases.
The alert custom officers found two Apple laptop computers, a Nikon D300 camera with two lenses and a flash, a Canon G10 camera, an Iomega 1TB hard drive, a Chaney remote control fridge thermometer and a large box containing a Davis Vantage VUE weather centre.
A visitor is not supposed to travel into Mexico and fill in the custom form that nothing is there to declare while carrying what looks like supplying an electronic shop.

The loyal and effective custom officer called the supervisor to show what he had found.
Who took information from the Davis Vantage VUE weather centre box to go and check on the internet what was its value.
To return and inform that the maximum value of what one can bring into Mexico, $ 300, was largely exceeded.
And that because on the custom form nothing was declared all the stuff exhibited on the table, the two Apple laptop computers, the Nikon D300 camera with two lenses and a flash, the beloved Canon G10 camera, the Iomega 1TB hard drive for friend Alonso, the Chaney remote control fridge thermometer and the large box containing the Davis Vantage VUE weather centre would be all confiscated.
Not only on the forehead, but also in the armpits and in the crotch, sweat could be felt starting to stream.
Indeed, quite a disastrous situation.
To loose all that stuff would not only be a very serious financial blow but would also disable working fatally.
No more computers suddenly and all the information they contained and no more cameras would stop functioning as an artist photographer totally.

What to say to the supervisor of the Mexican customs?
To offer apologies?
Or a bribe?

He was looked into the eyes with love and a demonstration of not having had bad intentions bringing all that equipment into Mexico.
The supervisor then decided to let the visitor go.
With a warning only.
All the stuff could be returned into the suitcases and the promise had to be made to declare any goods when visiting a next time.

What a way to enter a country and feel welcome.


No comments: