Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Great Border Caper

"I've been roughed up, robbed, and now I'm in jail"

Last weekend my buddy Frederico, while having an awesome lunch at Souplantation, gave me a detailed account of "The Great Border Caper," the incredible aftermath, and where everything stands today. I had been aware of had been going on, but he finally spilled all of the details to me and Marianna.

I had been wanting to write a story about this a YEAR ago. Thank goodness I didn't because some seriously crazy stuff happened since that makes this even more entertaining. I just hope I can remember all the details.

Seriously, this story could be made into an amazing movie. Of course, I would play lead with Antonio Banderas playing my stunt double.

It all started a little over a year ago. Frederico is a very entrepreneurial-minded guy and has long wanted to start a business. Coincidentally, one of his best friends in Brazil, Raul, happens to be an expert mechanic and, according to Frederico, "knows EVERYTHING about cars."

For the past two years, Raul had been trying to get some sort of Visa to either the U.S., Canada, or Australia. None of them were taking. About a year ago, Raul became desperate, obtained his Mexican Visa, and flew to "the city of the future" - Tijuana. Lord help us if that's the state of our future cities.

At this point, Raul and Frederico were scheming ways to get Raul across as affordably as possible. Raul, coming from a lower class background, didn't have a lot of money and Frederico was basically paying for his living expenses. Mexican "Coyotes" apparently charge $5,000 to smuggle you across through the desert, and after meeting a few shady operators, Frederico decided to try his luck elsewhere.

They spent weeks trying to find affordable and "trustworthy" coyotes (ironic considering coyotes make a living by being dishonest), Frederico here in America, and Raul looking in Tijuana. Frederico was having no luck, and Raul was getting the run around. Guys would charge him for info and then just send him to someone else who would do the same thing. It was an expensive road to nowhere.

Somewhere along the way, a guy mugged Raul and took his money.

Raul: "This plan is not working. Everyone here is a lying bastard!"

Frederico, being a licensed diver, came up with a plan: wait until the tide is just right, drive down to Mexico, teach Raul to scuba, and swim back together underwater, under the cover of night. He was so serious about this idea that he bought a Sea-scooter and began doing training runs in Mission Bay to see how long and how far he could go on the Sea Scooter battery with varying numbers of oxygen tanks.

He was all set to pull the trigger, but at the last moment, this plan was scrapped. Scuba diving at night for such a distance was far too dangerous for Frederico, let alone a rookie scuba diver like Raul. Furthermore, the Sea-scooters wouldn't have enough juice to get them all the way, so they'd have to ditch it, as well as the empty oxygen tanks, in the ocean and snorkel the last leg.

Too risky.

Raul meanwhile had his money robbed from him again while returning from lunch the next day.

Fast forward a week, and Raul, having received money from Frederico, boarded up with an elderly woman who was extremely nice. She fed him, gave him a cheap room-rate, and promised to help find him someone reliable to get him across the border. Several days later, Raul returned home to a not-so-pleasant surprise:

Raul: "Where are all my things!?!"
Lady: "I don't know what you're talking about"
Raul: "My clothes! My money!"
Lady: "You have no business here, now leave!"

Raul was furious and began yelling. As he began his tirade however, five or six men walked in. Suffice to say, Raul was roughed up and thrown out as they kept all of his things.

According to Frederico, Raul called him in tears...a broken man. Thrice robbed, roughed up, and now homeless. All the while, he was too ashamed to tell his family back in Brazil that he was not yet in America but rather slumming in Mexico. So instead, he shared stories of how amazing and wonderful life in America is.

They had no idea.

A few days later, as luck would have it, Raul spots one of the thugs on the street. He immediately rushes him, pins him against a wall, and demands his things. Raul's a decent sized guy, so he can be pretty intimidating if he wants to. He manages to get only his clothes back, but predictably everything of value was gone.

At this level of desperation, there was no choice. They hired a decently honest Mexican Coyote who specializes in desert smuggling. A week later, Raul and the Coyotes left from Tecate under the cover of night and trekked through the dessert.

At the border, the six travellers began to make their way across. One at a time, they'd run across, diving behind bushes and rocks, and signaling the next when the coast was clear. After three of them made it across, Raul was set to go.

All of sudden, the three across the border began waving them away. Boarderpatrol was car was coming through the area.

The three on the Mexican side including Raul, had to abort! The next day they found out the border patrol had discovered this "route" and essentially closed it down.

A week later, the coyotes got a lead on a new plan. Apparently there was an open sewer pipe that allowed passage across. The next day they went. Raul entered, but problems appeared right away. He became stuck in the pipe!

Minor snafu.

After finally freeing him, this plan was abandoned as well.

Another week later, they found yet another desert crossing route. This time, finally, Raul made it across! Some 30 hours later, he called Frederico.

He was in America. Frederico was to drive and pick him up at the next phone call after he made it passed the border checkpoint.

The next day he gets the call.

Raul: "I'm in jail"
Fred: "What!?!"

Apparently as they made there way to civilization, an off duty CHP just happened to spot them. Busted. Interestingly, Raul enjoyed his stay in prison much more than his stay in Tijuana.

After all of this, Raul was deported back to Brazil...

But this is not even close to the end of the story. It gets better! You'll just have to wait until next post!

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