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Security, Please   1 | 2 

24 Oct 2001

CHETUMAL, MEXICO — Security in Mexico is — not surprisingly — much more lax than in the US. Especially now, with the US on hyper-sensitive "something moved — shoot it!" mode, by comparison, Mexico seems like it doesn't care if you're walking into the country with a tactical nuke strapped to your back.

A great example to demonstrate this is the amazing contrast in our airport experiences in both countries. We flew out of Dallas/Fort Worth early in the morning, and arrived two hours before our flight, as required. There was no line to check in; this was good, as we had no choice but to check our main bags, since we had nail scissors and a sewing kit in them. Seriously: that was the only reason we couldn't carry our packs on, as far as we could determine.

Naturally, things being the way they are, we were "randomly selected" (those were the guy's exact words) for a full baggage search. I wasn't really bothered, since we were so early, and in fact, I was a little relieved, at first: maybe it's true that they aren't really profiling, if they picked us. Two white Americans named Swartz and Eaves don't really fit the common terrorist profile.

The search took a good twenty minutes. The guy basically took out every single item in our packs, although he didn't search 100% of the items. What did bother me was that it took me over an hour the day before to pack my bag just right so everything would fit — now it was all randomly spread acorss a table. However, I had the tremendously good fortune to take advantage of this security guard's superb packing expertise, which entailed stuffing, shoving, and punching down everything however it would fit, then forcing the zipper closed with the combined strength of himself and the checkin guy. (You see, I can't touch anything once he searches — even to repack it.) So I figure I'll have suntan lotion and shampoo all over the inside of my bag when it gets to Mexico, if the zipper even holds up until then, but not much I can do about it now. Oh, and we couldn't carry on a camera tripod, either. Figure that one out, if you can.

Ironically, the security checkpoint was practically non-existent. They checked our ID, but didn't even make me turn on my laptop, or raise their eyebrows at the zippered bag full of more than a dozen wire-laden AC adapters and phone adapters that could easily have looked like a miniature bomb, and, I think, could actually be assembled into one given enough effort.

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Last updated: 27 Oct 2001 10:37:41