Friday, June 30, 2006

Bush, the border and me and my wife

Sweet Mexico. Always a bit sad to leave, but it is rather nice to be back in front of the bay where I can feed my gull friends in the morning hours. Sometimes, just before the sun rises, I walk to the edge of the bay and talk to the jellyfish that gather. I do not know whether or not jellyfish have ears, but they tend to hang around while I rant or try out new poetry.
But to the point, my wife and I recently came back to the states after two nothing-less-than-fantastic weeks south of the border. Way south.
Normally, we drive, but this time around decided to bus it again. Not a bad way to travel when not in a hurry, but believe me, you will be ready to get off the thing immediately upon reaching your destination.
Crossing the border is usually a simple process. There is a checkpoint about 26 miles from the actual border. The bus will stop and an armed man in a uniform will board the bus and ask for everyone’s ID.
I am generally half asleep around then and flash my passport, then wiggle around and try to snooze just a bit before crossing and having to deal with US customs-type people. Bear in mind that I am speaking in terms of the return trip here.
Nobody ever has asked to see my tourist visa. Ever! My wife had suggested to me that we should renew ours as they were about to expire and I assured her that it would be senseless to spend the extra cash on something that never gets looked at.
The armed guy walked up to me and asked for my passport. I smiled and handed it to him and he smiled and handed it back. Then he asked me for my tourist visa. He also asked to see my wife’s visa. I gulped. Maybe he would just glance at it and go away. Wrongo.
He asked me if I spoke Spanish. “No,” I replied. (I may not be fluent, but that was a slight little fabrication a my part.) I figured at this point that being a stupid American might work to our advantage.
We were sternly asked to get off the bus and go to the office. The office was a small white room with a small white desk and a small white sofa with a couple of magazines on it that provided the only color in there.
Another armed man in a uniform entered and, unfortunately, spoke very good English. Time to bluff. The visas were only 7 days bad and I tried to tell him that we thought they were good for the entire month. Actually, they were good for 180 days and we had used them a couple of times. We knew this, but hey, who knew what would transpire. Nobody EVER asks to see those things.
So now, as an ironic twist, my wife and I were pretty much illegal aliens in Mexico. How’s that for a reversal of roles?
He told us that the fine would be $300.00. “What?” I practically bellowed.
I told him that we had nowhere near that amount and that we surely could work something out.
His voice rose a little and he said that we would need to gather all our belongings from the bus and prepare to spend the night detained and that maybe in the morning we would be more willing to pay the fine.
I gulped. We literally had between us roughly $25.00, half of it in pesos.
He then told me that he would do us a special favor, just for us, and let us go for $20.00a piece. I gulped again and explained that we were broke and that all we had on us was all we had until we could get to the other side of the border.
He slammed an open palm on the desk and said “Right here and now! $20.00 a piece!” He then opened a drawer and showed us a passport of a man who had been detained for the same reason.
At that point, I figured there was enough money for my wife to go and I would stay behind and see what happened. At least I would have somebody who would pretty much knew where I was and could see about getting some money and getting me out.
Maybe it was the expression on my face, or on the face of my wife, but he patted me on the back and took what we had and told us to get back on the bus and that he would never grant us such a favor again. I shook his hands and smiled as we boarded the bus. I whispered to my wife that we had gotten off cheaper than if we had done things legally. Her sense of humor had taken to hiding. Even in the semi-darkness, she managed a glare that spoke “What were you thinking?” all over it.
Later on, when we awakened and were speaking of the morning’s ordeal, we both could only surmise that there must be a crack down on North Americans these days at the border that is largely due to the current U.S. administrations idiotic approach toward immigration and Mexico.
It was indeed my fault that we let our visas expire, but there has to be a bit of reciprocal logic to the shakedown we received in the little white office in Mexico.
Just when I thought I could not respect G. W. Bush any less.
I’m glad that my wife thought to buy a few “Pinche Bush” buttons while we were down there.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Bullfights and Christmas at DJ's

Well, the time has come. My adorable wife and I blast off to Mexico mañana. I actually had a night of doubt that this was a wise decision as the cars need to be worked on and there are many hours I will miss from the day gig.
F…k it. Take the bus and find a place to stay and eat really good food, not that we cannot mess up a kitchen with the best.
Bullfights. I truly hope to take in a decent bullfight while down there. I am fully cognizant of the fact that this activity disgusts many people, but so what? I like them, always have and always will. The supreme spectacle of life and death swirling about in the afternoon sand is no less inspirational than tasting ice cream for the first time or losing one’s virginity. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I am obviously more than a little passionate about the dance.
The only time I can remember being more excited was a gig I played with a band called the Visitors. It was Christmas Eve and at a small punk bar called DJ’s. I think the year was 1979. When we arrived to set up, there was this huge envelope awaiting us that was sent by an artist friend of mine. He had to have spent at least an entire day on this particular project.
The envelope is large. Inside was an piece of art that featured a dead Santa Clause in front of a graffiti-covered, brick wall. When opening this thing, it was filled with guitar picks and drum keys. There was a note that read: “Hey, I swear I didn’t kill that Santa dude, but found this shit in his pocket as I was walking by.”
Cool and unexpected gift and still have it, which says something as I rarely keep anything for very long.
Anyway, the place was packed. I wondered why and then realized that most of these people had nothing else to do on Christmas Eve. I suppose that could perceived as a sad thing, but balloons and tennis balls were tossed all around the bar and I think it was probably the best response I have ever received from a crowd. We probably were not even in tune and it did not matter. We were fast and loud.
Why that ties into the bullfights stretches my imagination a little bit, but sometimes memories can wander around in the brain and tie themselves in knots.
I doubt that I will be posting again for a few weeks because of the being in Mexico factor. Not that anybody will care because hardly anybody, as far as I can tell reads this page. Those who post an occasional reply are truly appreciated.
Adios por ahora,