I've gone through very few border crossings in my life, but the most memorable one was entering Belarus from Poland at the end of a long Eastern European road trip last autumn. Russians are politely waved through at these check points, but if they're traveling with an American, they will quickly be transported back to Soviet times in an instant, with questioning, slow efficiency, and border procedures reminiscent of the Cold War era. I wrote before that getting my visa for Belarus was very expensive and time consuming. The whole trip I waited for the opportunity to flash this shiny object to border patrol at the Poland/Belarus crossing.
At first everything was great. No lines, but we arrived during the shift change from the evening to morning crew. Everyone moving so slowly to begin work!! We waited patiently until the new crew was in place. Finally a stern border agent waved us forward, we showed both passports and then he asked for proof of insurance for me. I gave him my U.S. insurance card because the coverage is worldwide. But he quickly informed us it isn't acceptable for Belarus, and we were told we couldn't enter. An insurance agent is usually available at the crossing but on this day she was "on holiday." No other alternatives were offered. The first Belarusian border agent a real mudak! Sometimes in this region of the world the mentality is mind numbing. If there's a problem, it's yours and yours alone. "NO!", a very easy answer while creative solutions require thought and brain power that some workers believe is beyond their pay grade.( Collapse )