Roadside Online

Day Twelve: El Paso, Over and Out

If El Paso had something besides a rush hour, that’s when we sought to depart, so we lingered over Hobbs doughnuts addressing 41 “We made it” postcards, one to Luis, who had stamped us on our way from Niagara Falls.

Twelve days’ anxieties boiled over into a roaring argument over the best way to exit El Paso, ‘though we both knew the secret word was “quickly.” Still friends, somehow, we checked out and found Route 62 as Paisano Drive. We had nine and a half miles to go. At the post office we sighted our first Mexican license plate, attached to a low-riding car on treadless tires.

The way was pretty clear for a while and then there were more Border Patrol cars than direction signs and suddenly we knew we had lost it. We U-turned into the parking lot of El Paso’s grand old railroad station. Polly urged Doug to seek directions; he just couldn’t find a way to inquire, “Which way to Mexico?”

We backtracked, reversed, parked and walked. Route 62, we determined, was Stanton Street. From across the Rio Grande, a steady flow of Mexicans entered, one slow step at a time. We tried hard to not look like the law.

Here, then, The Other Road does not so much end as just fade away among Mexican pedestrians, as mysteriously and surely as an illegal seeking a new life.

“I really want to leave,” said Polly. No argument. “I’ll drive,” she said.

A few miles out of town, we were stopped at an inland border checkpoint. A big handsome patrolman leaned into our packed Mitsubishi.

“That’ll be a one dollar, please,” he said.

Polly nudged Doug, who extracted his wallet.

The patrolman unleashed a big “gotcha!” grin. “Just kidding, ma’m,” he said. “I saw your New York license plate and thought you might be homesick for a toll.”

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