We Didn’t Look Suspicious

There is a daily conversation regarding the border and the president’s insistence on a wall at our southernmost border. All the chit chat got me thinking about my two visits to the border. The first was many, many moons ago. I accompanied Dad on a business trip to San Diego, and one day, we decided to cross the border into Tijuana, Mexico. Nothing unusual happened at the border, and my most vivid memory of the trip was the purchase of our onyx chess set.

It was my first visit beyond the United States border and the first time I had any participation in the fine art of haggling. I admit there was little, perhaps none at all, haggling done regarding the purchase of the chess set. What I recall is that I had seen many similar sets in the San Diego shops, which were priced four times higher than the ones in the little Mexican town. What happened is that I hesitated when told the price, so the merchant immediately, to my great astonishment, dropped the price. My pause was honestly because I was uncertain regarding the color. I immediately got out my wallet, much to Dad’s annoyance, because he told me later that he was positive he could have negotiated a better price. I was satisfied.

Our second southern visit was on a trip to Tucson five years ago. We decided to explore the area, so we set out in our rental car headed to the hokey little town of Tombstone. Hokey, I say, because it was as if we were on the set of a movie. Tombstone was a recreation of an old western town, complete with people walking the streets in period costumes, complete with a recreation of an old Wild West fight.

As we got closer to Tombstone I observed a border patrol checkpoint, which we would have to pass though on our return trip. I do not know what got into me, but I suddenly felt the need to check our rental documents inside the glove compartment. I was upset to discover it was empty, meaning we had no way to prove that we were the renters of the car. I imagined that we were going to be hauled off to prison. We hadn’t even seen “Breaking Bad” at that time.

It turned out to be an unnecessary worry, because the border agents said hello, glanced briefly inside the car, and waved us on. How did they know we were not smugglers?

My biggest observation from the trip was my view of the great expanse of nothing to the south with lots of mountains. I would not want to go on a stroll in that area. There are probably lots of scary bugs and snakes there.

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