Mexico and borders: No longer a speedy crossing

When I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, heading to Juarez, Mexico for the day was a fun day outing. I didn’t do it often, but at least twice a year we’d walk across the border at El Paso, Texas, have lunch, shop for presents at the market, buy a bottle of Kahlúa and Jose Cuervo and head home. Going across the border was a snap–quick. There was nothing to it. I found the same thing when I went to Tijuana for the day from Los Angeles.

According to this New York Times article, those days are over. It’s taking up to three hours to get back into the United States, even for American citizens. The borders are stopping people more to ask for identification papers in an aim to be ready for January when traveling by car across the borders requires a passport.

As you can imagine this is causing a tourist dollar damper. If you can’t hop over the border and back in an easy trip, there’s no such thing as an easy day outing. Eventually, the system should smooth out, but it’s going to take awhileas in a couple years. The people who are probably going to come out ahead with the slow down are the vendors who sell items from car to car. Thanks to All the Colors who took this picture at the Juarez border crossing and posted it on Flickr.

“Strangely Fat” Woman at Customs Actually Wearing Girdle of Live Crocodiles

It must be difficult to look inconspicuous with 3 live crocodiles strapped to your waist.

At least it was for one woman trying to cross through the Gaza-Egypt border crossing. Despite the woman’s veil, and many layers of clothing, border guards couldn’t help but notice something odd.

When a female guard did a body search on the “strangely fat” woman, the truth was revealed — 3, 20-inch-long crocodiles hidden under her loose robe.

The woman said she “was asked” to carry the animals — that, incidentally, could each be sold for the equivalent of 2 months of her salary. And while the events initially caused panic, in the end, “everyone was admiring a woman who is able to tie crocodiles to her body,” said Maria Telleria, spokeswoman for the European observers who run the crossing.

Seems a little more exciting than the cigarettes, prescription drugs and car parts that border guards usually confiscate from travelers.

Unique Tourism: Mock Illegal Border Crossings

Ever wanted a taste of life as an illegal immigrant? Try a nighttime hike in the Hñahñu Indians’ Parque EcoAlberto, guided by a man in black clothes and a ski mask.

“The idea here is to raise people’s consciousness about what immigrants go through,” according to tour guide Alfonso Martinez. But, while many of the guides at Parque EcoAlberto have indeed crossed the border, this park, 700 miles from the actual crossing, is tame in comparison. Mock Border Patrol give chase with sirens and lights, and the hikers are warned to hit the ground if they hear gunshots, but it’s all for show — the only real risk posed to the border-crossing tourist is a sprained ankle.

About 3,000 tourists have taken the hike since 2004, but what about you? Any interest in walking the path of an illegal immigrant?