Sunday, April 23, 2006

kuyima part two

When we finally begin descending into San Diego, I am awestruck by the topography. I had no idea there were mountains and valleys cut into the earth in beautiful rolling vista lands of desert. We land and then begin the next leg of my journey - trying to figure out how to get to Tijuana.

A nice volunteer gentleman, probably 75, assists me with directions, which he rips off a pad. I can't imagine how many have come before me. It is nearly 3:00PM, and I have to get to the ABC bus terminal by 6:00PM. I jump on a bus - the PlaneTripper or something jazzy like that - and arrive at Broadway and something, right in front of a Starfucks. I'm thinking I should grab something to eat, as I don't know what I'll find in Tijuana (which was nothing), so I purchase a tarragon chicken sandwich with sliced apples and a big fat strawberry and a vanilla iced latte for the road. I barely sit down on the chair outside when an orange trolley drives up (which turns out to the be the blue line). I suddenly feel like I'm in Amsterdam, having no idea how to pay to ride, even though I had a transfer (I was supposed to pay an extra 25 cents, but didn't know how). I find a seat - thank god, as I am beginning to feel quite weary and more sick as the day progresses. (I still feel like shit as I write) What I see on the 45 minute trolley ride toward the border blows my mind - to think that anyone - let alone people in my own country live like this - mobile home and trailor parks, covered in grafitti, garbage everywhere, and front lawn junk yards serving as post-modern sculpture gardens with run-down cars as the center piece.

The people riding the trolley with me are also downtrodden folk who look like they just walked off the pages of a John Steinbeck novel 50 years ago hence. One woman, who reading a book with a bright blue and yellow cover, wears a sleeveless top. She has raised bumps all over her skin. I've never seen anything like it. Everyone speaks Spanish - but pleasing Spanish, not the dialect spoken in my NYC neighborhood. Two women sit next to me and talk the whole way to the border - about what I have no idea. A group of school kids - Anglo and Mexican all hanging out together, speaking English and Spanish - it's beautiful to see and so different than NYC, where you only see Anglos with Anglos and Latinos with Latinos.

When I arrive at the border, I am completly confused. I decide to sit down and eat my chicken sandwich, as I am not sure I'll be able to take it across the border with me (little do I know what's to come). I eat my sandwich and apples and spy across the way a Mexicali bus that the book said would drop me right in fron tof the bus depot. I see all these people walking up and around this spire leading them into Mexico and figure I'm too weak at this point to do it myself. The book said it costs $2.50 to ride the bus. I go over and see a little man standing in front of the bus welcoming folks in. I get on and think I've entered a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, hoping this isn't the type of bus I'm going to take 15 hours south to San Ignacio.

The seats are all raggedy and the floor is filthy dirty - old men, very poor, wearing dirty, stained clothing load themselves slowly onto the bus. They look like they walked off a movie set for an old Western. The images that I've seen recollect all these snapshots in time: movies, books, posters, television shows. I feel like I've stepped back in time. As if the latter half of the 20th century as well as the beginning of the 21st century has passed them by without even a desire to keep up with the hustle and bustle of (post) modern day life. And I had this longing to be part of it - to stay in this time warp where everything moves slowly; where there isn't this drive to be the best, look the best, sound the best, etc. . . I realized in company with strangers just how much New York has warped me and my drive to succeed - how I've changed in three short years (four, I guess).

We drive what seems backward, toward San Diego, and I wonder if I've gotten on the wrong bus. But I forgot to add that the little man - who turns out to be the driver - walks up and down the aisle before he takes off with a wad of US dollars and a fistful of coins, collecting the $1.75 fare from each person. The book was wrong. I'm nice and comfortable and think that we're on our way over the border when suddenly he pulls into a shopping center in front of a grocery store. Suddenly, hoardes of women board the bus, carrying large shpping bags filled with food and Valentine's Day decor.


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