#Sasabe #Arivaca #Arizona #Mexico: BUSTED, down on I-19, just like Jerry, and George…
(continued from previous)
Disclaimer: I like Mexicans. They’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I’ve eaten their food. I’ve drunk their mezcal. I’ve bought and sold their handicrafts. I’ve marched through their streets carrying pictures of their patron saints. I’ve probably seen more of their country than I’ve seen of my own, and that’s a lot. I’m not Mexican, don’t care about being Mexican, and won’t go on romantically about mi gente, but still: I like them. They’re good people, for the most part…
So when I see Mexicans, and Mexican-Americans, being abused and mistreated along that 2000 mile border, it really pisses me off, more than my own inconveniences, which are minor. I’ve been detained twice at the border in the last week, but they have all been detained more than that, and for less reason, presumably. I, after all, am a pretty sketchy character :-). I hope to get to the bottom of it, the whys and the wherefores. I persevere…
The next border crossing along the Arizona/Sonora border, after Nogales, is at Sasabe, maybe only forty miles from Nogales as the crow flies. Too bad you aren’t a crow, because you’ll travel many more than that to get there… unless you’ve got a four-wheel drive. This is one lonely border post. I think Antelope Wells, on the Chihuahua/New Mexico line is lonelier, but this is as quiet as I’ve ever seen. The road on the Mexican side is not paved at all. The American side has NO parking—zero—except for a little pull-off from the road a block (okay, let’s say ‘block’) before the border post.
“This is one lonely border post you’ve got here,” I say to the ICE officials on hand.
They aren’t especially friendly; not in their job description, I don’t suppose. “Yes, it is.”
“Is there anything there? Can I walk on over?”
“There’s a small town. Make sure you have your passport.”
I nod. The post itself looks new and refurbished. I can only imagine what it looked like pre-9/11. The little Mexican town of Sasabe has maybe a thousand people on a busy day, and is the consummate border community. The apples come from the USA and the papayas are from Mexico. I can’t say that people are very friendly here, either, though. In Palomas, Chihuahua, everybody in town waved and said ‘hi.’ Here I can’t get a word from anyone. It must be a drug crossing, and everyone’s paranoid.
So I walk down the main drag—nothing much else to do. There’s a restaurant and a store, about the same amount of commercial activity as the US side—basically nothing. Welcome to the border. It meanders along a line that runs within us, vast and lonely, neglected and brooding. ICE don’t detain me on the way back, though. They’ve probably never detained anyone. I almost feel hurt, unimportant. There are some decent views here, by the way.
The American side of the border is even quieter. This is one sleepy little outback town (okay, so let’s say ‘town’). Flies go unswatted—meh. What’s the use? They use the aqueous humour of midday dozing dogs’ eyes to wash their feet. Other dogs lie around listlessly, licking their balls to add flavor—sweet-and-sour—to tasteless kibble; cats count mice, and mice count their blessings. Humans wait around to die. This seems like a place where no one does anything. There’s no reason to. They only wake up if a motorcycle gang rides through, I guess. I like it, sorta’ kinda’ almost maybe…
There is a more interesting little town on the way back, though, if you’re taking the shortest (paved) route to Nogales—Arivaca. It’s quiet, too, just a bar and a church, all you need, that and a post office. I stop at the one store, to look for something—anything—to eat. There’s a hot dog cooker—with egg rolls! Thank you, God. It’s amazing how they can get maximum greasiness from frozen spring rolls.
I chat with the help. “Interesting town you got here; nice store.”
“We’re lucky. They haven’t closed in twenty-seven years. The owners all took vacation together for the first time last year.”
“Wow. Small towns are like that, I guess.”
“Small towns are drying up all along the border. There’s not much left.”
Yes, they are, for the various reasons already mentioned.
Next day I have to go back to Tucson. I have to meet early with my house inspector. There’s only one problem. I leave early in the morning, with a belly full of coffee, and soon I really need to piss, like a proverbial race-horse, in fact. It comes on all of a sudden, of course. So I look for an exit. ‘Tourist Information’ ahead, sounds like a pissoir to me; no luck.
So I get back on the exit ramp. There’s a wide spot: what the Hell. I pull over; this will only take a minute. I’ll just put on my cloak of invisibility. It worked in Afghanistan, hiding in plain sight. Trickle. Trickle. Drip. Drip. I can’t do this. I feel like a thousand eyes are on me, even if they aren’t, like that restroom in the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where that bathroom pervert lived—LIVED, from what I could tell. He was always there, sliding right up next to me, looking at my penis, trying, anyway, every time I’d go to piss. I give up, and get back in my car.
“Whee-ooo! Whee-ooo! Whee-ooo!” the sirens scream like a wounded animal trying to evade capture, ungodly. It’s a police car. Where did he come from? This is not good. I get out.
“Get back in the car!” This is definitely not good. He walks up. “So you thought you’d just do it on the side of the road?”
“Do what?” I play dumb.
“Don’t play dumb with me! I’m treating you with respect!”
He’s got a point. If I were a young black man, he’d probably be wailing on my head about now. Thank God for small miracles. “I really needed to go. I looked for a restroom, but couldn’t find one.”
“So you just stop on the side of the road and do it right there?”
I grin sheepishly, no: sh*t-eatingly. This goes back-and-forth for a minute or two.
“Next time, find one! Don’t do it on the side of the road, especially in front of a cop!”
He’s got a point. Most importantly, he’s going to let it all pass. Here I’ve just broken the law brazenly, right in front of him, and he spends less time with me than the ICE men do, when I’ve done nothing at all. But where did he come from? I was wearing my invisibility cloak. Uh-oh. Wait a minute. I bet Hardie Jr. forgot his invisibility cloak. That’s what happened. There’s only one problem. I still need to piss. To be continued…