Midnight Border Run

29 Jun

The other day I asked the owner of this café if his son would be interested in watching Mango the fish—we’d pay him of course. The kid said he would but then realized he was going to the States in a couple of weeks and it wouldn’t work out. That’s when friendly Karina here said she’d do it.

“I have three kids. I know how it is,” she said.

And so it came to be that a complete stranger to us is watching Mango for a month. How kind. Mango lives.

June29 1

So later on in the afternoon I boarded a bus bound for Estados Unidos. I decided to save about $400 on my flight to Portland by hopping a $40 bus to Tucson and flying from there. The bus was uneventful overall. Pretty uncomfortable as buses tend to be, but made up for it with the fastest wifi I’ve experienced in all of Mexico.

June29 2

The bus, I was told, would take seven hours to reach Tucson. After seven and a half we finally reached the border where I, along with the rest of my Mexican compadres, were greeted warmly by America’s finest—the border patrol agent.

“Whachoogot?” he asked while stealthily flexing his ridiculous biceps.

“What do I got?”


I packed one t-shirt, my camera, and my computer, but concluded that this wasn’t what he was asking so I said, “Nothing.”


As we all stood around the front of the bus waiting for everyone to disembark and get past Officer Whachoogot I took out my camera and snapped a picture. I took it knowing they’d probably get in a huff, but figured I’d give it a try anyway. It was a pretty good one too, a little old lady holding out her Mexican passport and Officer Whachoogot about to take it from her hand. Not a prize winner, but certainly blog worthy.

About two minutes later I see four officers storming towards me.

“You speak English?” I was starting to wonder if any of these guys did.

Si.” It always takes me a few days to snap out of Spanish.

“You can’t take pictures. You need to delete the pictures you took.” Obviously the eye in the sky had spotted me and called in the troops.

“I’m not sure I need to delete the picture, but I will. You should get a sign.”

I deleted the pic and the gang dispersed. Somehow I knew right when we pulled up to the border that I’d end up in some kind of trouble. I really have a problem with authority types—always have. Especially border patrol agents. They always have to act like such hard-asses. I get it sort of—it’s part of their job to intimidate people, to trip them up. But what if we ended this ridiculous war on drugs? Then what? Suddenly these guys would have no reason to act like hard-asses any more. Their jobs would consist of nothing more than checking to make sure the person standing in front of them had a valid visa. The job could be done by little old ladies. Wouldn’t that be nicer for all involved?

“Oh, well now, welcome back to the U.S. of A. Pat Schulte. You don’t mind if I call you Pat do you? Say, you aren’t related to a Sally Schulte in Des Moines are you? I graduated from high school with Sally—class of ’52. No? Well welcome back anyway. Enjoy your visit with your mother.”

Yeah, that’s how I envision border crossings after the potheads get their way.


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