Saturday, October 23, 2010

Change of Plans

The plan for the second week of our honeymoon was to visit several parks and cities located along the southern boarder of the US. However, because of unexpected and rather unpleasant immigration-related issues, we decided to change our plans and head north. Instead of visiting Chiricaruha NM, Tucson, Saguaro NP, Organ Cactus Pipe NM, Anza Borrego SP and San Diego, we went to Lower Antelope Canyon, Bryce and Joshua Tree NPs. That added several hundred miles to our trip, but we did not mind it that much as we both like driving.

Before leaving for the honeymoon we were wondering if we should have taken our passports with us. We did not plan to cross the US border, but we worried that we might need them because of the new immigration law in Arizona. In the end, I decided not to take my passports (Yes, passports. I had two at the time: the "old" one with a maiden name and a current visa, and the new one, with my new name). I did not want to risk loosing them and also carrying two of them (plus some other immigration-related documents) seemed just too complicated.

I had no idea that all along the border between Mexico and the US (as well as Canada and the US) there are numerous internal immigration checkpoints that can be located as far as 75 miles away from the border... We got stopped at one of such checkpoints on the I-54 near Alamogordo, NM (some 50 miles away from the Mexico border...)

The first immigration officer we dealt with was very nice and friendly, but the second one was clearly in a bad mood. It also did not helped that he could not locate a person with my new name in their system... Luckily, I also had with me my old driver's license with the maiden name. That saved us from a lot of trouble.

Even though this "adventure" ended well, we decided not to risk getting into potentially more trouble by continuing along the southern border of the US. At the very least we were risking loosing time at each checkpoint, but in the worst case - well, I have no idea what could really have happened in the worst case, but we decided not to find out :)