I was glancing at the front page of today’s Dispatch and saw that, as of tomorrow, you need a passport to travel to Mexico and/or Canada. Yet another step in the War on Terror (which Gore Vidal says–quite correctly–is about as realistic as a War on Dandruff).
I’m just happy it didn’t occur 22 years ago. Psyched by repeated viewings of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, I was determined to go to San Francisco for spring break 1987. (The crew of the Enterprise time-travel back to 1980s San Francisco to recover humpback whales in that particular installment.) I had been to California in 1983, by bus from Boston to Los Angeles, to spend a week just outside San Bernardino, but I had never been to the Bay Area before.
I had an enjoyable trip, fell in love with Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley, had a good visit with a friend with whom I had corresponded since 1979, and decided to take the southern route back to Ohio. (On the way out, I went from Athens to Columbus and then took I-70 most of the way west.) I had a three- or four-hour layover in El Paso (There’s a literary allusion there–answer it correctly and impress me for life. Open to all but Hilligoss), and realized that right there across the Rio Grande was Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. I walked across the LBJ Bridge and about 1-2 blocks into town. My only purchase was a fifth of Dos Gusanos tequila at a liquor store, which cost me $1.10. (I apologized for only having American money with me, but the proprietor was quite happy to take it.) When I came back, the border guard asked me how long I had been in Mexico. I told him, truthfully, about 15-20 minutes. Did I buy anything? I held up the brown paper bag with the bottle in it. (Brandishing a bottle of liquor in a brown paper bag–It doesn’t get any more O.U. than that!) He pointed to a small booth nearby, where I paid an $.85 duty, and then headed back across the Rio Grande, which looked like chocolate milk, back into Texas and the Greyhound station.
That type of spontaneity won’t be possible as of tomorrow.
On this day in history: On this date 340 years ago, Samuel Pepys discontinued his diary because of his fear (which turned out not to be true) that he was going blind. Here is what his entry for the Great Fire of London looked like: