Wednesday, 25 February 2009

22 February 2009

mysterious Spanish streets. It was only Nuevo Laredo but it looked like Barcelona. “Man those guys are up all night” whispered Neal. We hurried to get our papers straightened. We were warned not to drink tapwater now we were over the border. The Mexicans looked at our baggage in a desultory way. They weren’t like officials at all. They were lazy and tender. Neal couldn’t stop staring at them. “See how the cops are in this country. I can’t believe it!” He rubbed his eyes. “I’m dreaming.” Then it was time to change our money. We saw great stacks of pesos on a table and learned that eight of them made an American buck, or thereabouts. We changed most of our money and stuffed the big rolls in our pockets with delight. Then we turned our faces to Mexico with bashfulness and wonder as those dozens of Mexican cats watched us from under their secret hatbrims in the night. Beyond was music and all night restaurants with smoke pouring out the door. “Whee” whispered Neal very softly. “Thassall!” grinned a Mexican official. “You boys all set. Go ahead. Welcome Mexico. Have good time. Watch you money. Watch you driving. I say this to you personal, I’m Red, everybody call me Red. Ask for Red. Eat good. Don’t worry. Everything fine.” “Yes-yes-yes!” squealed Neal and off we went across the street into Mexico on soft feet. We left the car parked and all three of us abreast went down the Spanish street into the middle of the dull brown lights. Old men sat on chairs in the night and looked like Oriental junkies and oracles. No one was actually looking at us yet everybody was aware of everything we did. We turned sharp left into the smoky lunchroom and went in to music of campo guitars on an American Thirties jukebox. Shirtsleeved Mexican cabdrivers and strawhatted Mexican hipsters sat at stools devouring shapeless messes of tortillas, beans, tacos, whatnot. We bought three bottles of cold beer---told at once “Cerveza” was the name for beer---for about thirty cents or ten cents each. We bought packs of Mexican cigarettes for six cents each. We gazed and gazed at our wonderful Mexican money that went so far and played with it and looked around and smiled at everyone. Behind us lay the whole continent of America and everything Neal and I had previously known

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