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Adventures of Crossing and Uncrossing The Mexican Border

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Sheri and I are up at O' Dark Thirty (4am). Well she is anyway. I get up after three or four attempts. 'Sheri, I thought we were to get up at five?' 'Kelly changed her mind and wanted to make sure we get to the airport early.' I'm driving her, Kelly and David to the Tijuana airport. Heck, I don't even like the sound of Tijuana.

I grumble but with the sweetest smile I could muster, 'That's nice dear.' Sheri said let's take your car. Ok. We load up after I unload a ton of stuff - wet suits, towels, thermal liners and garden tools - from the back seat.

It's very cold. In fact Kelly tells us later that it's the coldest morning since right after the last global warming cycle millions of years ago. We head over to Kelly and Dave's to pick them up. Sheri turns on the wipers to clean the windows - but without water - making the windows more streaky. I said the streaks are on the inside of the glass. Lots of complaining.

Turns out my heater barely works. We get to Kelly's, pick them up and get going. Kelly insists on driving. She says, 'Why are these windows so messed up?' It's on the inside Kelly, I said. Polite cursing. Kelly, 'There's no heat. I can't feel my fingers.' Yes, my heater doesn't work to well. Do you want me to drive? No, she says.

David, 'Take a T-shirt and wipe the inside of the glass.' We use my thermal top but it's no use. Any heat back there yet? NOOO!! David, 'Try cleaning the window with water.' It worked. I'm amazed and everyone is grumbling at me, ' . . . on the inside, huh?'

David says this is colder than the deep, snowy, windy winters he experienced in Montana. Did I just see someone skiing in the carpool lane? Kelly thinks she can feel the wheel - maybe. We just merged onto the 805 South. Kelly, 'Everyone get their iPhone maps out and plug in 'Tijuana International Airport'. Later we realize that we wanted to map CBX, the US side of the airport.

We merge onto the 905 heading East toward the airport. Everyone is looking at their own map app and announcing 3.2 miles, 2minutes, 2.7 miles, 1 minute, no mine says 5.2 miles and 4 minutes. Kelly - Quiet, I can't think. All of a sudden we're crossing the border. Yikes. We pull over by some official buildings. This isn't right I said.

Now we're all loosing it. David hands his phone to a guy so they can use the translate app to communicate. Kelly goes into the building to try and find someone who speaks English. I spot an official truck with flashing lights and flag him down. He was heading back where we came from and I'm thinking he could lead us out of here. He motions to follow him. I get back to the car and David is standing outside with the translation app guy. I get in. Kelly comes back and says we have to go through. But that's Mexico I say. But Kelly will have none of it so David gets back in and off we go. I wave to the guy in the truck with a 'I'm not in charge' look.

We drive through the border. No one is checking us. We get to airport. Kelly's worried because I don't have my passport. Also she wants me to exchange phones with Sheri because there is only 1% charge on my phone.

I take out my ID and credit cards. But then Sheri says her flight pass is on her phone. I give back her phone and get mine back. But in all the commotion and simmering panic, I forget to put my ID and cards back in and they end down deep in the center console.

Kelly has me punch in my address on the map. They go, I go. The map, instead of taking me to the same check point we just went through, takes me west along the border, rt. 20, to Tijuana. I'm thinking, this is interesting.

By the way my phone is, somehow, still at 1% and no charger.

I get lost in a maze of loops, round-a-bouts and turns. Finally, I see the line. I hop in and after 200 feet, an official waves me off to an exit off-ramp. Porque! Porque! I said. But he keeps waving me off. So off I go.

A little ways up the ramp, a taxi guy is waving for me to follow him. Oh, oh I think. He sees my situation and wants to make money to get me back to the border. I pull over, he gets out with a piece of cardboard that has English writing which says, "for thirty dollars, I'll take you to the border". Motive confirmed.

I decide to do this. He takes me about five miles further west as I can see the Mexican border wall on my right, but there is a high wall splitting the road to my left preventing any turn around. I'm starting get a little worried. Actually I started getting concerned when I got waved off the road leading to the border.

Just when I'm thinking he is taking me to Ensenada, I follow him through a break in the left wall and we head back towards the border with a ton of other cars. But all of sudden he exits down this sketchy side road that runs parallel and 10' lower than the main road. I'm flying through water all over the place but I've got no choice but to keep following. Suddenly he turns right and we enter a very run down neighborhood. He pulls over, comes to the car and wants his 30 dollars. I only have a twenty. I tell him that's all I have. Where is the border? He takes the money and points in a general direction and leaves.

Well, at least I'm back in the general area of the border. But later when I was thinking of that neighborhood, the houses were low level ranch style, the street was wide and the light hitting that spot was ethereal. A little work and that could be a great place for folks.

So I reset the map and actually end up on the same overpass that I started on and can see the line of cars for the border just like before. The one I got kicked off of. So I hop back on again. But as I am approaching the guy who waved me off before, I see a side ramp to the right heading towards the border. I take it as I don't want to have to drive miles in the opposite direction again. But it essentially gets me turned around. I pull over at an open spot next to an intersection and notice the gas gauge registers less than a quarter tank. I start to pray. Master help me.

Jake calls me, miraculously my phone still works. Jake has me reset the map again but because of the low charge the app misbehaves. I'm following along the blue line, then all of sudden I'm off the blue line. I pull over near an intersection and Jake says to share him on find my phone. Now he can see me. Jake is a smart man. Now a police car pulls up. I say, where is the border. He points to the right and takes off. I don't know if he wants me to follow him. But I don't think so. So I said Jake I'm going to turn right up ahead. And sure enough, there is the line for the border. Hurray.

I merge in and after a little ways I see a sign for I5 going to the right. Now I'm wondering where is everybody else going. But I take the turn and I'm like heading into more neighborhoods. I come up to an intersection with a red light. What do I do? A thought says go up alongside this truck ahead and ask. The fellow lowered his window and I ask, again, where is the border and he very politely says turn left here but stay in the middle.

He lets me go in front when I make the turn. I see three splits and my mind is racing which one, which one? But my new friend is trailing me, honking and pointing to the correct split - geese. So I take the split but by gosh there are several more - the architect, I think, had one to many shots of tequila. But señor angel is driving parallel to all this crazy infrastructure and is honking and pointing to the next correct and, thank goodness, last split. I wave thank you and send mental, heartfelt thanks to him and to God and Guru who helped me through him.

And the phone is still working after almost two hours of 1% charge. Wow! So Jake and I are still talking, joking about this whole thing. He can see me and that I'm on the right road to the checkpoint. I know I'm close, because there are mountains of serapes, hats and colorful carved things alongside the road. We finally get to the first check, an American guard. I roll down the window and say Fantastic! He just looks at me with accumulated boredom. I tell him my situation and he just waves me on to the next check point. So I drive up to the cubicle and the official holds out his hand and says identification or passport.

I have neither, I say - my drivers license got lost in the shuffle back at the airport. So as I continue to explain what happened, I can see a little smile on his face. I'm already thinking this is a good sign - thanks Master. What is your last name he says. Ragland! I say. What is your first name? Cole! I say. As he is entering this into the computer, I get back to explaining what happened. I got you he says with a bigger smile.

Then he leans over and says, Now . . . . would you like to go home? Yes!, Yes!, Yes! I say. He points over and says there is the I5. Wahoo! Can I get out and give you a hug I'm thinking of asking him, but I say thank you a ton of times and enter into the US.

I can't tell you what a feeling of euphoria I had. Citizens, especially college age kids, teachers and politicians who complain about America should experience the same thing. Then they would have an immensely greater appreciation for this country.

So as I'm barreling up the I5, I split off to the 805 to avoid traffic - its around 8am. But soon I'm in the commute. I decide to pull off at Plaza Blvd in National City. Right away a Starbucks. Hooray. I walk into the door and go straight for the restroom - It's been a while. But good gosh there is a combination lock on the door. So I go back to to the counter and I ask the young lady what the magic number is. 1001 she says. That relief was one fine moment.

Relieved, I decide I want to go to a park first and then come back. So I asked this lady standing by where I can find one. Right up the street, make a left and you can't miss it. Thank you so much.

As I leave, I yell out to the crew, I'll be back. So I found the park, a very nice one, pick a spot and started my Energization Exercises. After that I am sufficiently relaxed and recharged. I begin to mediate and inwardly give thanks to God and Guru for guiding me safely through the mornings adventure. Refreshed mentally, physically and spiritually I head back to Starbucks.

I very nice barrister asks me what I want. Coffee my dear with two inches of heavy cream and two bags of raw sugar. I'll also have a double bacon cheese egg sandwich - hold the bacon please - and a chocolate croissant warmed up. Properly provisioned for the trip home, I head up the freeway. By this time its 11am and no traffic.

I get home and start cleaning my car especially the windows as it was a major topic this early morning. After that, laundry, some weight work, more meditation and thanks. At about 4pm, the body says it needs rest. So I lie down on the floor and close my eyes and think about what a wild and interesting day this was. What a hoot.

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