We approached La Frontera. One false lane could have meant an hour or two’s worth of headaches and figure eights. I remember coming to a complete stop on Hwy 95 in order to read all the signs. Thankfully it was a quiet morning. One of us spotted the word Declare, and that was a sure sign. We swooped over. It was there where we caught a first glimpse of our opponents.
If I was allowed to talk, and I wasn’t, I would have asked my partner why there weren’t any dogs on the scene. No not the kind of dogs that play fetch, or need a home, or do stupid pet tricks. More like the sharp eared breed that can bring a man to his knees. The breed that thinks dog whispering is a secret worth telling.
But to my surprise..no dogs. Not one. Just layers upon layers of official and unofficial authority.
We stopped at an orange cone. A young man in a black uniform approached the cone, removed it, and pointed us to a parking space in the shade. We both got out.
Although he could barely walk, my partner went to work. In his Spanish, not to be confused with anybody else’s Spanish, I heard him use words like casasombra, and barbacoa. The man with the gun only seemed to have his eyes on what we thought he would have his eyes on. I sat on the long metal table trying to remain cool.
The moment of truth. My partner asked me for the piece of paper. I pulled out my book of receipts and began fumbling through it. The crucial piece of paper wasn’t there. My partner hovered over me. I couldn’t find it. He continued to hover over me, and much like a ventriloquist, he began calling me an idiot, a blow it, and everything in between.
I couldn’t believe it had come to this. I had one fucking job to do, and I couldn’t even do it. I was frozen. I found the doctored piece of paper that declared our stuff to be worth a ton, and immediately shuffled that away. Then I found the piece of paper that declared our stuff to be worth what we actually paid for our stuff, and immediately crumpled that piece up too. All eight cameras were on me. Under his breath, my partner continued calling me a complete jackass. It was bad.
We were moments away from either A, being humiliated and turned away at the border, or B, paying a boat load of tax. My partner explained to the Authority that I was an idiot. He muttered something like I was in an accident and something struck my head. I was dripping sweat. I continued to fumble through my paperwork.
But then I found it. Yessir! It was where I had put it all along. Blowing It!! My partner yanked it out of my hand, handed it to the Authority, and apologized profusely for the misunderstanding. The man with the assault rifle looked over the piece of paper as he referenced what was on top of the 2002 Ford E250.You mean to tell me that each board only cost $39 US? We’re professionals. We get these boards at below cost. Well why do you need nine? We break boards all the time. We need backup. It says right here that you should have ten? That’s because we already broke one in California. Is your friend a professional too? Believe it or not, he’s one of the best around. Where are you guys going? We are competing in contests up and down the coast. Where is the first contest? En Zicatela! Whoa, The Mexican Pipeline. Exacto Senor!
It all went down in Deadpan Spanish, and my partner filleted it. We were asked to pay a token import tax, and that’s about all that I should tell you. I can tell you in private when you come visit.
Well it was now time to register and import the vehicle itself, as well as renew our personal visas. For that due process, we had to loop under, over, then around the bridge that crossed the Rio Grande.
I looked at him. He looked at me. I asked him how long he was going to hold this one over my head. He said forever.