Saturday, September 27, 2008

Driving South


The Mexican border is a short thirty minute drive my home, but by taking that 25 mile ride you can find yourself in a land as foreign as any.  To experience such a cultural change in other parts of the country requires an expensive plane ticket and countless hours of flights.  Here, a half tank of gas , and enough pocket money to bribe Federales, should the need arise, will suffice.

Driving south , one first hits the metropolis of San Diego: tall condos with windows which refelct the surrounding city; the bay in the distance spotted is with it's large navy ships- aircraft carriers primarily; planes flying low over the breathtaking skyline will touch down at Lindbergh Field moments later.  The weather is perfect and the sky is cloudless 99% of the time.   Windows are down and wind slaps the side of your head and neck.  Perfection.

Continuing south one can make out the magnificent Spanish architecture of Balboa Park to the west.  Stunning white stucco buildings housing expensive art and various museums.  

In less than two minutes downtown San Diego lays behind.  The view on both sides of the highway becomes more mundane.  The glamour and decadence of the areas further north disappears.  As the cars odometer reading increases the affluence of the surrounding land can be seen to decline.  Small white houses dot the land for as far as the eye can see.  Mexican markets can be seen from the highway.

The road continues.

A sign for outlet malls- The Gap, Nike, Brooks Brothers- then, the border.

There is little fanfare going through.  The 6 lane highway narrows to 4 lanes.  Suddenly a large concrete lane dividers funnel cars through a sort of checkpoint.  This structure is similiar in structure to a US tollbooth; however, it appears it was constructed with the leftover items from a Cold War Era construction project- function trumps form.  There are no stop signs.  No red lights.  This is Mexico.  The check point is always unmanned.  The Mexican's are not afaid of what Americans will bring into their country; the illegal trade, and therefore the paranoia, flows in the opposite dirction.  The only thing entering this country is American dollars.

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