Staying On One Bus to Cross the Border Not Such a Good Idea

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!

7 responses to “Staying On One Bus to Cross the Border Not Such a Good Idea

  1. I’m trying to get a bus from houston to san miguel de allende. My brother in law is dying and I need to go be with my sister right now. If you know which bus line to take that would be great. I can only find Tornado and it got horrible reviews. Thanks for your post. Lisa.

    • Hi Lisa,
      You have probably found an answer to your question by now. These last two days I’ve been on the road from San Antonio to San Miguel, though not in a bus. On the way south from San Antonio to Laredo we passed the Tornado bus terminal. EEEEEyew! And of course THAT was the line those two reporters from the New York Times chose to travel on and feature in their story. What?! Don’t’ they read my blog??? Maybe, Lisa, you’ve found Transportes San Miguel. I think there’s information on it somewhere in these comments. It’s gotten good reviews, and since the terminal is pretty near our house (and the Tuesday market in San Miguel) I went over and took a gander at what their buses look like. They are not ETN. The seats are narrow and there’s quite a few of them on each bus. (ETN just carries 24 passengers on their vehicles). But the buses looked clean and undented. I asked about the fare and it ran around US$76 RT San Antonio to San Miguel. I think the route extends northward through Austin, Waco and Dallas. Certainly worth investigating.

  2. Pingback: Omnibus Mexicanos From Texas to San Miguel de Allende | Welcome to Virgin Territory!

  3. Tosia Polomski-Archer

    I will now count myself as lucky as our northward journey via Nuevo Laredo/our truck in April had us stopped at the International Bridge for approximately 1/2 hour. During that time several young men from the Mexican Army (assuming that as they were wearing full gear including rifles) ask us questions (practicing a little english?) and also wanted to see into the back of the truck. The dogs and the cat thought these guys were nuts to be standing around in the heat, it was over 30 celcius, but behaved anyway. They poked around in a casual way but it was more of a ‘make work’ stop I think. The Border Patrol point guys were cool about things and really appreciated it when we told them that ou dogs in the back of our truck – last time their drug dog jumped up onto our car and scratched the paint trying to get at our dogs!
    Better luck next time Susan! But, love the stories, keep them coming. Abrazos, T.

  4. You’re so right, Aysha! I’ve been stuck for hours on airplanes sitting on the runway. And on freeways caught in traffic — or like earlier this summer in Texas, waylaid by a brush fire. Every mode of transportation carries its own hazards and frustrations. Until I get that thing perfected where I wiggle my nose and zap myself to the destination, I’ll continue having adventures.

  5. Thanks Susan, very interesting, NO buses for mr north

  6. Thanks for reporting and the heads-up. Isn’t it amazing how our expectations/projections can be so out of whack with Reality when It shows up, creating disappointment? If you had known what to expect with the border crossing then, perhaps, you could have “prepared” for the long waits and discomfort. Choosing this option to save money rings true the saying: you get what you pay for, but, unfortunately these days, you can pay top dollar for a first-class airline flight and still have all the delays and inconveniences you describe… including the frightful possibility of Jennifer Annison and her turkey baster a foot from your face! At least you got a night’s sleep! Missing you here in San Miguel de Allende and sending love!

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