Standing in line to get through immigration, I can already see Kakao’s kennel waiting next to the luggage belt in the cavernous Cancun arrival hall. I see a lady bent over the kennel, obviously concerned about the dog inside. There is nothing I can do but wait in the slow moving line – one person every three minutes or so – with ten more persons in front of me. A wailing howl reaches me across the hall. Five more people to go…and I am through. I can’t get to my dog fast enough and let him out of his confinement right away. He is not interested in the water I poor for him. The worried lady next to Kakao’s kennel asks me in French how long my dog had been traveling and if anything is wrong with him, as she observes Kakao’s shaking hindleg. I tell her his age and explain that this is happening lately when he is stressed and has not moved much in a while.
Kakao looks at me; I know he needs to go out and pee.
When our luggage finally arrives on the belt, we have to get in line again for the luggage to be inspected by customs. With Xrays and individual inspections this, too, takes forever.
Kakao does not understand why he just can’t go outside when he needs to so bad…
At our turn through inspection, our luggage gives us no problem, but we are pulled to the side: have we gone through the Oficina de Agricultura, Ganaderia (etc. etc.) yet, to show our papers for the dog? That Oficina is past the custom’s checkpoint. No, I reply, while I show Kakao’s brand-new pet passport and the paperwork. The customs officer stops the inspection line and proceeds to lead us to the Oficina, where a short, stocky man is looking at his computer and a young lady is busy with her smartphone.
O, brother, I think, I hope it is not going to take as long as the last time I was here, when every paper I had of Kakao had to be entered letter by letter into the computer, to be printed in duplicates, stamped and signed, then checked for mistakes, to be corrected, printed and stamped once more. Questions arose at that time, about why Kakao was never vaccinated against parasites (is that ever done, we have pills and creams for that, right?) I had to explain that Belgium –the airport we would fly into- does not require that, which had to be double checked before that was accepted. That first time, the procedure took an hour.
The short man behind the computer checks Kakao’s passport. Fortunately I had remembered the parasite issue from our first encounter and made sure our Amsterdam vet entered the recent parasite applications in the passport, although it was not known to be a requirement. In Cancun, however, it is.
But… “Where is the health certificate?” He asks this time. He does not agree with my answer that the Mexican consulate in the Netherlands confirmed my findings on the IATA webpage that the normally required health certificate – not older than five days and certified by the government – would not be necessary when returning with original official Mexican health papers.
The man pulls up declarations saying otherwise. I pull up my information which I had kept on my phone, but to no avail. A vet needs to come over to declare Kakao healthy enough to enter this country. This takes a Mexican half an hour. While we wait, we have the opportunity to fight a fine for bringing in an uncertified dog. This time I seem to be convincing enough about my talk to the consulate. The fine gets waived. Thijs thanks the guy respectfully. The man wallows in his power.
Kakao looks at me with pleading eyes, restless and wailing: I REALLY have to go!!
Finally, the vet arrives and immediately starts copying the paperwork given to him by the short man who, then, out of the blue, asks around for a flashlight. The young woman hands him her smartphone with the flashlight on. He demands to look in Kakao’s ears and decides that they look so bad, Kakao need antibiotics for a cure. (I know his ears are clean and healthy) The vet faithfully makes a note of it on his papers without checking the ears. Just like the vet who wrote Kakao’s health certificate when leaving Mexico, this guy also never comes close to our dog. We pay the vet $60 and promise to buy the medication. The paperwork is signed, stamped and duplicated one more time, and we are free to go. We make a run for the door where a tree is waiting for Kakao, but are stopped one last time at a point where we have to take the luggage and dog kennel off the carts and drag everything outside. No carts allowed outside – sorry!
Two and a half hours after arrival, Kakao has the longest pee ever.
On our drive to the campground where our camper is waiting for us, we barely avoid hitting a skin-and bones dog, almost hairless from scurvy and absently shaking his head with swollen, fly-covered ears.
Welcome back to Mexico!