Friday, January 25, 2019

But the weather was perfect for it

It had been a couple of hours since I’d done anything stupid, so I decided to cross the border at Los Algodones to replenish my meds. Never mind it was the height of snowbird medical tourism season. Never mind it was about 2:45 and the hundreds (thousands?) who came much earlier in the day would be lined up to get back into the United States.

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…

¡Holy mierda!

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.


  1. It's amazing to me that we are often at the same place or close, yesterday was my visit to Algodones too!

  2. Best time Sunday morning early. It's a skate.

    1. Yes, I've been there several times when there was no line or maybe just a handful of people. That's why the decision to go in the afternoon—when I didn't need to—was stupid.

  3. I truly sympathize with your angst; however your description of the situation utterly cracked me up! I cackled from your turnstile entry to eventual northern exit. Kudos on your writing skill.

  4. My wait time was about an hour, probably a little less, I've waited longer other times, but now I'm good for a year ... I hope!

  5. Whoa Nelly!...Thanks for the new word....I can now say to some
    jerk..or the list is endless....
    You mierda-head....You are sooo full of mierda...etc....