Wednesday, June 27, 2007

South of the border

There is an oft quoted passage from the opening pages of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in which Robert Pirsig likens driving a car to watching tv.

"You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame."

Maybe that's why I try to drive with the window wide open, usually without the aid of music, so that all I hear is the hot air rushing past my left ear, while the desert sun scorches my left forearm and left knee.

And make no mistake about it: it's hot out here. I think about the heat here and how someone visiting from the equator might be inclined to put on a sweater, and I shudder at the hot places on earth and long for my days as a ski instructor.

I decided to visit Mexico yesterday for purely ridiculous reasons. 1, so I could say I'd been there and sound just that much more worldly should I ever need to, and 2, so I could get another stamp in my passport.

I passed through the border in Douglas, Arizona, which took all of five seconds, as there was no one in the booth. No one cared that I was coming into Mexico.

I'm told by my host here in Tucson that Agua Prieta is a decent bordertown to visit, as it is a bit more "authentic" Mexican than many of the other border towns. I drove around a bit, trying to absorb as much as I could, but the slowly dawning thought that I had no Mexican money, scant Spanish language abilities, and my car insurance would not cover me in Mexico, made me feel instantly homesick for the U.S. Also noting that this is a blog about travels around America, I decided to head back. I had been in Mexico all of ten minutes.

Getting back was not so easy, as the entry and exit points were not next to each other. It took some doing, but I found the entry point into the U.S., along with the mile long line that went with it. I waited in the line for ages while local merchants offered water, snacks, Mexican trinkets, etc. The temperature rose to 105 degrees.

A boy came up to my window and offered to clean my windshield, and I politely shook my head no. He then offered me a bottle of water from a cooler. I held up my Nalgene and said "Yo solamente tengo aguo," which doesn't quite mean "I already have water," but I think he got the point. He looked past me into my car, perhaps eyeing my digital camera on the passenger seat, then moved on. The temperature rose to 107. My window was still down.

By the time I reached the border 45 minutes later, a man tried to sing for me for money, several others had tried to clean my windshield, and the temperature had peaked at 110. After conversing with the border guard, I drove back into the United States while finally rolling up my window, silencing the world around me into a nice, comfortable, airconditioned picture. As long as I'm back in the land of couch potatoes, I may as well join them in front of the tube for awhile.

1 comment:

Amy said...

When it comes to certain situations, I suppose being part of a TV station isn't so bad, eh?