Stuck in between the border of 2 nations, I asked myself, ‘how did this happen....and what’s going to happen next?’ For the second time in a week, my large truckload of food, was being turned away, keeping us unable to cross into Tijuana, to give food to those in need. Just after the beginning of this year, officials in charge of Mexican customs declarations, have changed. This has resulted, as it has so often in the past, at requirements being completely different. We’ve been charged a much larger sum, than in previous years, for smaller loads. Now, things had devolved to the point of not even being allowed to take food across at all!
When Mexican customs officials turn a ‘declaration’ away, one is required to wait in line, until enough other ‘rejected loads’ accumulate. At that point, a Mexican customs official, leads this procession of rejected loads to the US/Mex border line, where the cars are dumped back into a line to cross back into the US. On this particular occasion, I waited an extra long time for other drivers to be turned away. During my wait, which is basically right at the US/Mex line, some of the border line workers from the Mexican side, came up to me and asked for some of the food on my load (many people walk up and down working the line of cars waiting to get back into the US, where they sell everything from flowers to food). I allowed this person to grab a couple of loaves of bread, knowing the man would be very much in need. Before I knew it, line workers were swarming my truck, essentially begging for food. The food in my load quickly began to disappear. Naturally, this attracted the attention of the Mexican agent who had turned me around! He came over yelling and being quite animated about these line workers getting food.
At a certain point, even the line workers were speaking up and defending me, going to bat for a guy they didn’t know, who just wanted to give food away. It was worrisome, because the official had taken my keys already. Now he wanted my ID, as well! Eventually, things settled down, (he took photos of my ID and truck and then returned keys) and enough cars had joined the line to be turned back into the US. This line of cars was lead in a procession, by an official with police lights blaring. It was quite a scene.
Once back into the USA, still with the remaining load, the reality of not being able to take food at all, across to those in need, hit hard.
More recently we managed to get a good size load of food through Mexican customs and were able to share with some of the immigrants who have migrated from various parts of South and Central America hoping to enter the United States. These folks have been camped out just near one of San Diego's port entries on the Tijuana side of the border of course. A couple of volunteers helped us sort and make up the care bags. It was a bit difficult to navigate the mob of folks who circled our truck for the supplies. Everything was gone in 15 minutes.
And finally just today we encounted yet more setbacks with Mexican customs, particularly the agricultural department, now adding additional restrictions. Fruits, vegtables, frozen uncooked meats have been denied for some time but now even various grains and beans too are restricted. Like rice and pinto beans - a major staple in Mexico. It was explained that there is some kind of insect concern. But a great deal of donated foods we get were originated in Mexico.
While we are working on this, via official channels, we still manage to get small loads (inside truck cab) of 'undeclared' food one day and then maybe squeak in a larger load on another day. We have also been able to help some friends on a local Kumeyaay Native American reservation, as well as some other local folks. None of this is easy, and, in fact, it can be quite discouraging. Nevertheless, we press on, ‘fighting the good fight of faith.’