Border Crossing

If you listen to all the media hype (let’s call it what it is), you might think that the world is a very scary place. You may begin to feel that nowhere is safe. You (meaning I) might be afraid to go anywhere.

For example, consider the movie Sicario. If you haven’t watched it, don’t. I only watched the first half-hour and then I stopped it. It was just too dark and gritty for me. I was afraid it was real.

Before I came to Mexico, the idea of crossing the border in a car these days was, in my mind, just crazy. I imagined the border to be rough, corrupt, and dangerous to everyone. Planes and airports seemed much safer. Nobody is getting a weapon into an airport, right?

Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience,” and I believe it.

On the plane from Dallas to Torreón, I sat next to a Latin American woman from Connecticut. She was going to visit her daughter who is living in Torreón. Normally, she told me, she and her family drive down to Mexico from New England a couple of times a year.

I said, “Really? You all drive down?”

She said sure, that you could carry more things from the U.S. to your family and friends in Mexico if you came in a car.

I didn’t ask, “Aren’t you afraid to cross the border in a car?”

As it turns out, people from Torreón drive into Texas all the time. The children at the school all have passports. They love to go to Six Flags in San Antonio. They shop for clothes and electronics and household items. The quality of popular consumer goods in Torreón isn’t top notch. (Of course, it isn’t in the U.S., either.) The things we take for granted in most places, like jeans and table lamps, are quite expensive here. So people who can afford it drive up into Texas to go shopping a couple of times a year.

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Border Town

I was a little nervous. (I’m embarrassed, now.) It was about five in the afternoon when we got there, to the border going into the U.S., and there wasn’t much of a line to go in. We waited maybe fifteen minutes. We didn’t even get out of the car, we just handed our passports over to the man in the uniform. He looked at them and looked at us while the other man in the uniform walked around the car with the German shepherd. Then they waved us on through.

On the way back, we didn’t even have to stop. There was no line and no one checking passports. We barely had to slow down.

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“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” A woman named Dorothy Thompson, who was the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany, said that. I don’t know if it applies to every situation, but for sure, before we allow our fear to stop us from doing anything, it’s a good idea, in my opinion, to get information from other sources besides the mainstream media.

I should have known better. And now,  I do.

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