Monday, July 26, 2010

In the Heat of the Night - actually daytime.

We drive from Fort Davis to San Antonio. On the interstate the food is all chain restaurants and the road is plastered with billboards so we take Route 90 which happens to pass close to the Mexican border at Del Rio. This is through really beautiful country which passes through green mountains and parts which are as flat and deserted as the Nullarbor. There are very small towns with homely cafes which sell genuine food, untainted by the franchise system which destroys all taste and goodness. Along the road we come to a checkpoint where the border patrol are looking for illegals. Sue is driving so we breeze up to the young guy at the stop line. She winds down the window and blighthly announces "We're English!".

"Can I see you passports?"
"They're in the boot".
"They're in the WHAT?".
"Sorry I think you call it the trunk".
"Pull over there marm".
I get out the passports and hand them to one of the now 5 or 6 guys who have surrounded us. They are passed from hand to hand and each page gets a thorough study from each one.
"You travel a lot".
"We're Europeans, it's what we do".
Looking at me "Your passport's not stamped, When did you arrive?".
"18 July in Dallas". I forgot we cleared immo in LA; that was a cause of confusion. But they are right the immo officer stamped Sue's passport but not mine. Not my problem, I point out.
"Just put the numbers into your computer and you will see where we arrived and when".
One of them disappears into the office with our passports.
No point in being other than light-hearted. Conversation continues with the rest of them.
"Where did you come from into the USA?"
"No TA-HI-TI! The country is French Polynesia."
By now I realise they have seen our Libyan visas - hand written in Arabic - in the passports. This might be a long stop.
"Where are you going now?"
"The GPS is set for Holiday Inn, San Antonio but we don't have a reservation".

You remember 'In the Heat of the Night' when Steiger wants to find out where Poitier gets his money.

"What do you do?"
"Nothing I am retired".
"What did you do before that? You was a professor or something?" [priceless!]
"I was an air traffic controller".
"Work for the government for 44 years and you can have a pension like mine".

Not the brightest thing I ever said, but they see the point.
Guy comes back with passports and announces we can go. We are legit!
We say goodbye, "Maybe your detention centre would be more comfortable than the Holiday Inn Express?" "No sir, we have Mexican Mafia in there". Well I am in the hotel now and I am not so sure that's a big difference....

All the while we were watching the line of traffic building up and one guy at the checkpoint waving through all types of vehicles. Documents were only getting a cursory check. He was accompanied by what we thought was a highly-trained sniffer dog. Highly-trained that is, until the dog smells another dog in one of the cars and goes berserk!

We set off down the road impressed by how young they all were.

Crossing the Pecos....

Texan scenery....

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