We made it back into the States crossing at Laredo. Our plan was to come across at the same place where we originally went into Mexico–Laredo Bridge II. Unfortunately due to strategically missing road signs, we ended up crossing at Bridge I. Bridge I, seems to be primarily a tourist bridge, so it took us about 3 hours to get across. The bottleneck was the U.S. side of things of course.
It appears that many Mexicans make their living selling stuff to the U.S. citizens waiting in line to go back. We were offered everything from a small drum set to corn on the cob to windup chickens. Evidentally, "No, Gracias" is one of those phrases with multiple meanings. Usually it means "no, thank you," but I guess sometimes it can be translated "I'll buy your dancing chicken if you let it run all over the hood of my automobile."
At one of the stop lights leading up to the bridge, we saw someone with what seemed to be a fairly effective marketing technique. Once the light turned red, he would run around depositing a handful of candy on every reachable dashboard. Then he would revisit each recipient collecting payment if possible. If you keep your windows up, you'll reduce your chances of buying something in this area.
After several hours of street vendor entertainment, it was our turn to cross. The border guard eyed us suspiciously when I told him we had been in Mexico since October and were planning on going back in January. He wanted to know what type of work I did to be able to spend so much time in Mexico and how much money we had with us. I told him I worked with computers and we lived very frugally. We had a couple hundred dollars in U.S. currency and about the same Mexican. I think you start to run into problems if you are carrying more than $10,000 per person.
He seemed particularly suspicious of the side panels of our car and kept banging on the doors in the same way you'd kick at the tires of a used car. Our Yorkie isn't use to having people beat on the side of the car, so she started barking at him. I was thinking "Great, our car survives two months in Mexico only to have its paint job destroyed by an overzealous U.S. custom official and the interior shredded by a freaked out dog." Even though the suspicious looking side panels got a lot of attention, he never even looked in the trunk or at our luggage.
He came back to the window and asked. "Is anyone else with you in the car?" I guess maybe he wanted to see if it sounded like we were lying, but seriously is someone really going to say, "Just Jose. He is sleeping under the luggage cover in the back of the car because it is more comfortable."
Finally he was satisfied that no incredibly skinny people were hiding in the walls of our Volkswagen and he sent us on our way. We drove over a very large well painted speed bump and out into downtown Laredo.