For a while, it wasn't clear how or when a secondary school in Nuevo
Laredo, Mexico, would get the 340 desks a business in neighboring
Laredo, Texas, had donated.
After the shipment of desks arrived at the border with the United States, Mexican duties officers stopped the shipment, saying the proper paperwork for the load had not been filed, according to local media reports and a Nuevo Laredo school official.
The desks were a gift to the General Emiliano Zapata Secondary School No. 7 from a local Wal-Mart store.
Getting the paperwork cleared was not going to be a big deal, though it was likely to take at least a week, and possibly as long as 10 days, to get the mix-up settled.
The shipment across the Rio Grande had been coordinated by members of Rotary clubs in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. They had coordinated annual donations to schools in Mexico in previous years with no problems.
When officers at the border announced the bureaucratic snafu, however, the new desks were a mere kilometer from the 500-student secondary school awaiting them.
So when word about the impasse got out, students from the school and their parents grew impatient and hatched a plan of their own to cross the border into Laredo to pick up the desks themselves.
That way, they would be free of any paperwork hassle. Mexican citizens are allowed to carry $150 in goods across the border on foot duty-free. Apparently, the individual desks fell under the limit.
One by one, the students picked up and hauled their new desks over the border, where local police and civil-defense workers then loaded them into trucks and drove them to the school.
In all, about 150 Emiliano Zapata students showed up earlier this month to help move the cargo, according to the school's director, Samuel Sanchez.
Mr. Sanchez said the students were eager to chip in and help.
"What student wouldn't be happy about such an adventure," he said.
In the end, Mr. Sanchez said there were no hard feelings—or sore backs.
"Everything worked out well," he said. "We are very gratified for the help with the desks."
—Robert C. Johnston
Vol. 22, Issue 3, Page 3Published in Print: September 18, 2002, as Take Note