Vanlife Diaries: An accidental one-way road to the US

Just after midnight at Tijuana airport. Tired after 24 hours of travelling I wait a long time for my bags to come into view and the fear that they’ve been misplaced in Cancun is at the front of my mind. To my relief, the black holdall cames chugging up to me and it’s time to reunite with Jacob and the van. The familiar thud of the doors shutting is a comforting sound in this unfamiliar place with its different language, food and culture.

My sleep is turbulent as time difference and anxiety plague me in the early hours. It’s never as bad going east to west but it still takes a little while before I swap waking up at 5am to sleeping in till 10. I slip back into the vanlife routine pretty quickly. The slightly too short bed and bumping my head when I try to stand up-right are strangely familiar, though it has been 4 months since I had last experienced them.

We sleep alongside the Mexican – USA border and I wake to the site of the red wall that arbitrarily separates the land in two. I can’t linger pondering modern politics and the inhumane suffering of immigrants as the sun is already glaring down at us, telling us that we need to start our day. I take some pictures of the border to send to my mum and upload one onto my Instagram story, then shut the heat out of the A/C’d van.

First, we have to get the car permit which we assume will be an easy task. We head towards the ‘’border zone’’ and unintentionally end up in a one-way line into the US. The crossing is complicated and long. Jacob is a US citizen but I don’t even have a Visa Waiver, not to mention, I’d only recently left the US after staying there for three months. The paranoid guards think I might be trying to sneak in to live illegally but eventually, they believe me, and stamp my passport.

We cross back into Mexico, get our permits sorted and nearly 12 hours later than planned head out of the border town of Tijuana.

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