Welcome to the USA
Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
159Trip End Jun 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
Boca Chica Inn
The Mexican side of the border in Matamoros already had a long queue of cars waiting to cross into the USA for the Spring and Easter break. Trucks and coaches are processed somewhere else, that's a great idea, I think. The two rows of cars had a gap between them which the people were using for their carts and bicycles which were loaded with wares to sell to the waiting drivers. One walking seller motioned to us to come down that centre lane, where all the carts were. At first I looked a bit skeptical that we would fit, but he told the cart owners to move over for us. He was very helpful getting us to the front of the queue, and the sellers had little problems with the carts as they were all on wheels and they just slotted in between two cars until we’d passed with our bikes.
I brought our passports to the 'Exit Mexico’ area of Immigration and the officer asked for 120 pesos (about $11AUD) to stamp us out
The bikes were photographed in another department and the silver magnetic stickers were peeled off the windscreens and taken by the police officer. All clear, we were free to leave Mexico.
It was only two boom gates to the USA and we were asked if we were American citizens. We were then ‘invited’ to pull over and load our luggage onto a long stainless steel table for inspection. The officers were very friendly and chatted all the while about our amazing travels. They loved the very idea of it and the distance we had come to do the trip. After the Customs officers had finished checking our bags, we had to leave them all on the table and move into the waiting room to be ‘processed’.
Three hours later our names were called by Officer Gonzalez. It was a busy time because of Easter, but Officer Gonzalez was unfussed. He said. “Hi folks, you know, you folks have come from way out in left field, we don’t get too many Australians on motorcycles coming through our border crossing, and we don’t have a box for you
He was so personable, we gave him a koala clip-on after we were processed.
I was concerned about importing the bikes into the USA, as it had been an issue in every other country, with VIN and engine numbers being checked at some borders. We haven’t had our Vehicle Carnet stamped or checked since leaving Panama, and the USA didn’t seem to want to know about it either. So I asked a lady Customs officer if it was OK to bring the bikes into the US and had any paperwork been done to show this. She checked with her superior officer, who said “You folks are checked in and so are your bikes, so you go on ahead and ride safely.” It was all done electronically and very simple and friendly.
The young lady Customs officer was telling us about a ‘Mr Big’ from the drug world, being caught and extradited back to Mexico across this border at Brownsville, two hours earlier. And to think, we chose this border crossing from Mexico, because we thought it was safer than going through Tijuana
The clock had been pushed forward an hour, and it was now 10:30pm. We drove down the mall in Brownsville, we hadn’t eaten since lunch time, so we stopped for a burger, very ordinary I’m afraid. We located a hotel on Boca Chica Highway, paid for one night, covered the bikes and pulled back the covers of a nice comfortable double bed and fell asleep.
We stayed at the Boca Chica Inn for three days, just pottering around, cleaning the bikes and all our gear. We got rid of some gear we hadn’t used in awhile, bought a small gas cooker, new thermos, and gut straps and repacked all our stuff for our travels through the USA and we were really pumped, and looking forward to it. We rode around Brownsville on one bike, Des’s, and enjoyed riding together.