Sounded good. ONE big bus from San Miguel de Allende straight through to San Antonio. Reserved seat with what looked like a vacant one beside me. Not too many people headed north this time of year. Wahoo! And it was great until we reached the bus terminal in Nuevo Laredo. Then the fourteen of us on the great big Omnibus de Mexico, who had all slept comfortably on the twelve hour overnight drive, we transferred to another bus. Climbing the steps, I was prepared to reclaim seat sixteen, a window position with number fifteen beside it still empty. Wake up, Susan! The entire bus was already full!
“Find a seat anywhere,” they told us. “It’s just for crossing the border.” I wedged myself and my provisions in beside the little old man who had been my across the aisle companion on the way up. He was as bewildered as I was. Truth be told, everyone on the bus had that stunned vacant stare reminiscent of movie scenes involving Germans ushering passengers into cattle cars. To lighten the mood the driver started a movie.
The Switch was less than entertaining when viewed at a distance of a foot and a half at full volume. The plot involves Jennifer Aniston trying to get pregnant through artificial insemination. Visual imagery needed no translation in many of the “comedic” scenes. Turkey baster, anyone? My seat mate and I dutifully avoided looking at each other. When the movie was over we were still in line and hadn’t moved an inch. We stayed that way for another forty-five minutes.
I’ll cut to the chase. U. S. Customs goes over every passenger bus with a fine-tooth comb. Passengers disembark with all their belongings, go through a line and everything is x-rayed. Then a dog and a woman go through the bus. Then a huge x-ray machine travels over the bus. I’m so grateful it had cooled off to 80 in Laredo. The whole process, waiting included took over four hours. Then, after we were back on the bus, we were informed that it would be ANOTHER forty five minutes before we could leave the customs area. There’s some policy about allowing only a few buses to leave at a time. There has to be a twenty minute gap between them…or something like that. Anyway it was like waiting on the runway in the take off line up. We were allowed to disembark and seek refreshment in a sort of no man’s land. There was a guy there selling soda in eight ounce HEB bottles for two bucks a piece.
Once on the bus, we headed for the terminal in Laredo, where we sat for a while. Once on the highway w we went an hour and a half AND STOPPED FOR A TWENTY MINUTE COFFEE BREAK! Then it was the Border Patrol check point where the bus was boarded and everyone once again presented their passports. Most of the passengers were U.S. citizens, as far as I could tell from the flashes of blue that were waved.
Our previous experience on ETN was great. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that again. But sometimes the most direct route isn’t the easiest!