Crossing the border into Mexico wasn’t a problem because it seemed they used their lottery system for which cars to stop. I shot through with the pack. On the other side of the border I immediately saw the classic Mexican wealth and poverty. Beautiful high rise hotels and shopping malls while on the hill there were shacks. I got out and walked about a bit but was always worried about my car. I even saw a sign that said “Did you buy car insurance?”
Oops, I thought, I put my trust in Jesus, and was rewarded that moment by a view of a giant Jesus on a hill.
I hoped I wasn’t overworking my exhausted angel.
I stopped at a mall with it’s own security in the parking lot feeling safe about leaving my new Mini. It’s was the newness and the Canadian license plates that concerned me. I was thinking of bringing a little something of Mexico back for Laura but everything in the mall was upscale International. I did find a little leather purse that had a bit of Spanish flavour so I got that for an incredibly low price compared to it’s cost in Canada. The sales clerks spoke English and Spanish. I tried a combination of my long unused spanish with English bridging words. It causes everyone I speak to to smile but I seem to be understood.
When I returned to the parking lot I found that I’d left my passenger window open after taking the ticket for the ‘secure’ parking lot. The older little security fellow walking amongst the car saw that when I did and smiled. I went back and gave him an American fiver.
“Nice car,” he said, “Maybe better you lock it. next time.” Obviously. I could tell he’d been keeping an eye on it for me.
I ordered a Mocha in the Macdonald’s, “Quisiera un Mocca, por favor”. I said proudly. ‘Cuantos Americano”.
Amazing it was only less than 2 dollars. I couldn’t understand what she was saving partly because I’m increasingly deaf and wasn’t wearing a hearing aid. Having heard my spanish, she kindly treated me like a child, showing me first one finger then another and then giving me a bunch of change. I’ve always loved the way Mexicans treat old people.
Sundown comes quick in the south. I’d hardly existed when it was dark and I was lost. I followed a sign saying “San Diego’ but got way laid by another sign saying ‘Centro’ before remembering Centro was another town. I turned around and was travelling high speed through Tijuana at night in a mass of Mexican crazy drivers. It’s like the lights go out and the radical Mexican comes out. It wouldn’t have been surprised to see Pancho Villa hanging out of a pick up truck window trying to decapitate me with a machete. I was dodging and weaving through traffic trying to cross freeway lanes to get to exits. Everyone’s horns were honking.
I went through three round abouts with life threatening moments and joy in the incredible torgue and pick up of the Mini Cooper engine. I had to stop three times for directions from locals.
“No Derecha, derecho. ” she’s said. I’m thinking ‘recho’ , that means right but I’m lost. Derecho/derecha. Cho means straight, cha ending means right. I turned right. It was wrong. I was on a high speed freeway going east rather than north. I might have even turned ‘izquierdo” somewhere too. I think it was the ‘izquierdo’ turn that got me a whole lot more honks and at least one fist.
I just booted the gas to get out of there expecting to hear the crash behind me followed by gun fire.
Again I saw the San Diego sign and followed it to a very sketchy place which I decided couldn’t be right and must be a tourist trap. In my mind it was definitely a place where drug lords, cannibals and terrorists would feel at home. The street lamps were out there, Spagetti western music was playing and I wasn’t Clint Eastwood. I was so impressed with how quickly my Mini got into reverse and then hung a tight u turn.
Surreptitiously, it was clearly a miracle, I found the San Diego #5 border crossing where I’d come in. The line was an hour to two long, sharp contrast to my entrance. Through out the wait every thing that possibly could be bought in Mexico was shown to me at my car window by a wide variety of young to old entrepreneurs:food, statues, crosses, blankets, flowers.
Finally at the border, the older American customs man asked me where I was from and where my license was from, ‘Canada,British Columbia”. “Welcome back,” he said and I felt good.
20 minutes later I was with Laura and Gilbert thankful to have my body parts. I’m too old to get lost in strange cities in new cars. It inflames my over active imagination. There was no danger from the locals, The only real danger was my driving.
At the Best Western we ordered room service and watched Big Bang Theory. I had a great New Yorker steak. Gilbert had a burger paddy and Laura had sliders and mashed potatoes. We celebrated with banana splits for desert, Gilbert was more than happy to lick the bowls. After a night of driving lost in Tijuana this was more my speed.