Just walk right into Mexico
Some diabolic villain must have designed the entry point into Mexico. You can’t see the line to return to the US, and thereby judge whether you want to endure the wait, until you pass through the one-way turnstile into Mexico. Of course, you could ask those who just returned what the wait is like, but that would mean talking to people. Ew.
I came out of the Turnstile of Doom and…
The line was the longest I’d ever seen in all my visits to Los Algodones. Several blocks down the street, over the crest of the hill and out of sight.
On the plus side, the dental and optical hawkers had hustled themselves dry, and the farmacias were practically deserted. Everyone had already gotten their ultra-low-cost prescriptions filled and now they were queued up at the border. I was in and out of the shop in five minutes.
As I trudged to the end of the immigration line I worked at getting my mellow on. Breathe deeply. Release all care. Absorb peace and love. Be a Zen master.
I took my place at the tail of the tired, the poor, the huddled masses of aging Americans and Canadians yearning to breathe free. I exhaled. I settled in to wait. And I resolved to remain standing. I wouldn’t sit on one of the benches. I wouldn’t even lean against the fence or trees. I would tough it out. Serenely.
One does not simply walk into Mordor
But at least the line was moving. A few paces and wait. A few paces and wait. Whenever I wondered if the line would ever move again, it always did.
I had only my light sack of pills. A few others (obviously novices at this border crossing game) were lugging things like life-sized plaster desert tortoises, steel-and-stone wading birds, hand-painted satellite dishes, four inch thick solid wood coffee table tops…
Well into the second hour I was near where the line makes a sharp right turn into the high-fenced chute. There’s a one-way turnstile at the end of the chute that opens into the roofed and fenced courtyard of the immigration building. Immigration officers were at the beginning of the chute to check if folks had their passports. Despite two hours in line, some still had to fumble for their documents. Officers pulled them aside so they and their concrete Aztec calendars wouldn’t block those who had their mierda together. Keep the line moving.
The line splits in two in the courtyard. Two lines for two doors. This is where veteran travelers suss out the crowd. Which of their fellow supplicants is more likely to clog the flow? I spotted a guy with a bulging rucksack. He’s going to get searched. In the other line was a frail man who seemed disoriented despite his wife’s help. Hmmm, rucksack or disoriented… rucksack or disoriented… I chose disoriented. It was the right call.
It was finally my turn with a gatekeeper of freedom. She scarcely took time to compare my face with the photo, swipe my passport and see I was clean before waving me on. Keep the line moving.
As I strolled calmly out of the facility and back to the Rolling Steel Tent, I wondered what stupid thing I could do next.