Friday, December 23, 2005

Out In The West Texas
Town Of El Paso...

...I fell in love with a Mexican gal.... That was a #1 pop and country hit by Marty Robbins in my birth year, 1960. It's also a curious story song, since it is sung in first person, but the singer is killed in the end. I stopped in El Paso (pictured left top), stuck in West Texas' extreme corner, kind of in New Mexico's armpit... Draped around hills, the city has a decidedly Mexican flavor, a bit downscale, but the very adobe downtown historic center is charming.
Less charming was my inane inspiration to 'pop over' the Mexican border and check out Ciudad Juarez. Easy to get over, very hard to get back. The first obstacle is the total lack of useful signage, free-for-all drivers for whom lanes and traffic lights are just casual suggestions, clueless traffic cops. I kept going round and round, in circles, unable to find my way back, having to extricate myself with three point turns as dozens of angry Mexicans cursed the whore that bore me (their words, not mine... sorry, Mom). I finally found Avenida Juarez, which you can't get to through most cross streets, because.... it's actually a twenty-block line to cross the border into the US (pictured left, bottom), in which I sat for an hour and half, desperately needing to pee, and rueing the moment I thought this jaunt was a good idea. Ciudad Juarez' vivid colors, street vendor economy, and chaotic, downscale bustle might have been enjoyable under other circumstances. However, after 6 days driving our nation's ultra-efficient, well-signed and well-organized roads, it was a bit of a shock being thrown into the Mexican maelstrom. I am NOT counting this two hour waste of time as a 'foreign trip,' by the way... So, at 2pm, I sped like a bullet the 400 miles remaining to reach my family in greater Phoenix, Arizona, and arrived at 8:30pm, tired and cranky, and ready for a late night dinner. And that's my trip, folks. 2,457 miles of it...

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