The Other Side | Palm Desert to Mexicali (Grand Road Trip Leg 6)

Sunset in Mexicali.

The first time I came to Mexicali was in 2007. I remember it like it was 14 years ago. I was 23 years old, freshly graduated from the Universidad de Washington, where I had just majored in Spanish and Portuguese studies, despite having never studied Portuguese. My Spanish was the best it’s ever been, since I’d just studied in Mexico City the year before. The idea was to go from Seattle to Buenos Aires by land and write a book about it. That book never materialized, though parts of a rough draft of it did, mostly written in a coffee shop in Victoria, BC called the Moka House and also a the UVic library, where I would also read Jane Eyre until I fell asleep and then meet my girlfriend for a late breakfast, which usually consisted of hashbrowns smothered in ketchup and sausage.

On that trip I was actually in San Felipe, a couple hours south, and realized that if I wanted to go further south in mainland Mexico I’d have to go all the way back to Mexicali and get a bus. So my host, a guy from my parents’ church originally from San Felipe, found me a ride with a couple going north and next thing I knew I was at the bus station in Mexicali and for 50 bucks I got a one-way ticket o Mazatlan, a bus ride that would take 24 hours.

In Mazatlan I stayed with my friend’s grandmother, and then on the bus to Guadalajara from Mazatlan met a guy named Jeff from Vancouver, who I’m still friends with to this day. We got black out drunk on tequila in Guadalajara, and the only thing I really remember is sitting around Jeff playing the guitar and singing. The next day I felt awful. And the next day we were supposed to do a tequila tour. Those were my first memories of Guadalajara. After Guadalajara I went to Mexico City, and then my girlfriend at the time and I went to Puebla and Puerto Escondido. Eventually I did make it by land to Buenos Aires, albeit with a boat ride from Panama to Colombia.

Now, here I am 14 later, back in Mexicali, this time with my ’97 Subaru who BARELY got a Temporary Import Permit today letting her/us go anywhere we want in the whole damn Republic. The world is our periwinkle. And this barely happened because APPARENTLY my car has a damaged frame. Which means I probably don’t even have a clean title. Which I was a bit dismayed/surprised to learn. But at the same time I’m thrilled I even GOT a TIP (Temporary Import Permit) because I thought you needed the title to get a TIP and it turns out all I needed was the registration.

So now I’m in Mexico. I have Mexican car insurance. I have permission to go ANYWHERE I WANT IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY, and that might be exactly what I do.

But first I have to decide: Am I going to eat tonight.

You see, I’ve been fasting all day today, and I’m coming up on 24 hours. This has been one of the easiest fasts I’ve ever done, because I’ve been distracted by 1) driving all day, 2) crossing the border, and 3) getting a hotel. I’ve had water and a little bit of green tea, but no calories. And while I would LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE to eat tonight if I don’t eat tonight I could possibly do my longest fast ever, and tomorrow might be the perfect day to do it because tomorrow I might spend all day driving to Hermosillo.

Oh yeah, I’m probably not going to Baja.

I love Baja.

But, like, I’ve been there a bunch.

And I’ve never really been to Hermosillo.

And Hermosillo seems kinda dope.

Cuz it’s, like, the desert.

And it’s Sonora.

And if went there I might go to Chihuahua.

Which when I was younger I thought was pronounced, “Chi-hoo-a-hoo-a.”

Fajita.

You don’t really realize how ridiculous the border wall is until you spend some time on the other side of it.

If I don’t eat tonight, what am I gonna do? Just sit in my hotel room all evening? You see because if I eat then that’s something to do. That’s my evening. I eat and then I come back and I watch “Alone” for awhile and then I go to sleep. But if I don’t eat, then, well that’s an empty existence. But then again my whole life revolves around food. I’m like a golden lab.

OK, I’m gonna take a shower. That will feel nice. And drink some more green tea infused water. I forget that you can’t drink the water in Mexico. Which means if I want water I need to brave crossing the busy thoroughfare in front of my hotel. And I don’t know if I’m up for that. And let’s be honest, if I go to a grocery store right now there’s no WAY I’m not getting food. Ugghhhhhh this is so difficult. Why is fasting so hard.

OK time to chill.

I’m in Mexico.

So fucking stoked.