Moving to Lake Chapala:Check Points and Traffic Stops – Part 5

February 9, 2013

Moving to Lake Chapala : Check Points and Traffic Stops – Part 5
You might have to go through, or stop at various check points for immigration, police or military along the way. There ae fewer of these stops on the toll roads.
Sometimes there are stationary-type facilities, that are there all the time. They may or may not be open, but the facility is there. Some of them will just wave you through.
Some will be checking livestock only or agricultural type products of farm trucks carrying their products from one Mexican state to another, they will be not be looking for contraband.
If it’s a military looking or police checkpoint just follow the rules. Follow their directions. Try not to be nervous. Of course, you’ll be nervous a little bit. But again, that’s where one of the index cards I referred to earlier can be very helpful.
One of the things they’ll ask you almost always is, “Donde va?” Where are you going? So it’s nice to know "donde va".
The other phrases they may ask are “Where are you coming from?” or “Where you are going?” So it’s nice to have those phrases on your card so you’ll understand them if they do ask you those phrases.
Those are typical phrases. But you may get asked “What are you carrying?” Do you have a fire arm? Things like that so my advice is to
print out these phrases so you will understand them and then print out your responses. The soldier asks, "Donde va?". You reply , “Ah Chapala en Jalisco.”
These are a few simple questions they often ask. Just try and think like a police officer for a moment and think what kind of questions would you ask of someone traveling across Mexico.
Cover those phrases on your index cards. They may not ask you anything.
If they indicate…they usually indicate with hand signals that they want to look in the back or check your car contents…or ask you to get out of the car.
Just get out of the car. Don’t crowd them. Don’t hunch down around them trying to see what they’re looking at.
Just get out of the way. Step over to the side of the road a few feet away so they don’t feel threatened with you right behind them.
They never know who they’re going to stop, so they want to be careful, and they won’t let you come up right behind them, so no use trying to do so, because that's asking for trouble.
Just be polite and courteous, and they’ll be the same, if business like.
You can tell they’re not from the local welcome wagon, but they’re always very efficient, polite and business-like.
Usually the younger soldiers will be doing the actual searching It’ll be an older guy, maybe a higher ranking officer with lieutenant bars or captain bars just standing nearby.
He’ll typically be a little lighter skinned because the Mexican army is recruiting from the indigenous people, and you can tell they have Indian looking features and a reddish color to their skin.
They’re very handsome people. They’ll be doing the work. It’s sort of like years ago, in the United States, a good job for African Americans was to get into the military.
Of course, they’ll be speaking Spanish,, but very few of the indigenous soldiers speak any English at all. With sign language, you’ll understand what they want you to do.
If you have those words, those phrases, like where are you going, where are you coming from, what are you carrying, you will do fine. Most travelers do not have this advantage.
Of course, if it’s a police stop, they might ask for your documents or might look at your windshield sticker to see that it’s valid or look at your visa.
Just go along and cooperate. Remember they are there to protect you, but they don’t know that you’re not one of the bad guy. Unfortunately, there are North Americans, sometimes who are the bad guys, so please don’t take offense, just cooperate and be glad they’re there.
A little side note on a stop for inspection by military or police. The Mexican law says that they have to have some kind of suspicion, but in that kind of situation, they don’t. I’m sure the law has probably been amended. Years ago, a high powered Mexican judge, when they wanted to search his vehicle, refused citing the Mexican contiucion.
They wanted to search his car, and he told them, “No. You’re not allowed to do that under Mexican law.” Well, you know what happened?They searched his car, and he went to jail.
And that was a high-powered Mexican judge. I highly recommend you cooperate on the stops. Again, remember they’re there for your protection.

All for now. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Ivan Vaseleniuck

    I am looking to come to Mexico could you advise me if it possible to declare merchandise
    before buy paying duties and how is duties pail

    thank you 

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Ivan, Thanks for your question. Sorry, I’m not aware of a way to pay duties before you actually arrive at the border. You may not need to pay any duties at all.

    If you’re bringing in commercial quantities of goods you should hire a customs broker to help you with the procedure.

    Just put Mexico Customs Broker in a Google search box and I think you will get a list of customs

    All for now, Tu amigo, Sid

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