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Articles by David "El Codo" Eidell

Returning To The USA

by David "El Codo" Eidell

Published: January 2002

Compared to four months ago, things are relatively calm at the various US Ports of Entry. If I had to hazard a guess as to the relationship of time waiting in line now versus a year ago, it would be prudent to say that an hour's wait then is an hour and a half's wait now. Here at Tecate, it is not uncommon to find US Customs empty of traffic and this permits rapid entry (but a few folks are still selected for secondary inspection).

Not everyone looks like a redneck and if you have a full beard and are dark complected expect to be looked at a little closer than usual. Unless you answer the Customs Agent's questions with a strange accent, a few spoken words will reassure him or her that you need no further study. Contrary to earlier news accounts, very few Americans are asked to show a photo ID, and fewer still are subject to "Wants & Warrants" inquiries.

Simple "yes" and "no" answers offered in a neutral tone seems to be what the Agents want to hear from returning vacationers (which is like it's always been).

And a certain small percentage of travelers are selected at random who will have to answer a couple of additional questions and perhaps will have their baggage opened for a quick look inside ("Look ma, no bazookas"). An attitude of calm resignation seems to hasten a secondary inspection.

If I am returning with a number of items to declare, I'll scribble a list and then recite it to the inspector when asked to do so. A cranky or flip attitude will set these serious-about-business-personnel off, so if I have an attitude problem after waiting in line on a hot afternoon, I will keep in mind that snapping at US Customs would be like kicking a Grizzly Bear -- so I'll fake it and pretend that I'm in a good mood.

It would be prudent for travelers to check the news headlines at an Internet Cafe just before they travel back to the USA. If a new round of troubles should surface it would be prudent and wise to prepare for a longer than normal wait at the border.

Articles by David "El Codo" Eidell

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