Act One

Date: mid-1970s

Location: Tucson, AZ;  Nogales; Puerto Penasco, Mexico

I was a student at the University of Arizona. College was demanding, frustrating, all-consuming and, like any other serious student, I did not take much time for fun. Then, someone said, “Let’s go down to Mexico for lunch,” a reasonable and economic suggestion since Nogales was only 60 miles south and gas cost 76 cents/gallon.

I ordered cheesy, gooey chicken enchiladas covered in sour cream and a beer, then another beer. Maybe another. Six or more of us laughed endlessly and enjoyed releasing pent-up frustrations. I was tipsy when we started wandering through the shops. Weeeeeee! Look at those pinatas. Look at all that leather stuff. Who wants jugo de naranja? We were laughing, joking, cavorting, spurting out the few Spanish words we had tucked into our overworked brains. Of course, we forgot sunscreen so the group developed varying degrees of sunburn. No one really cared because we had a great time and, for a few hours, the real world faded out.

Less often, usually after finals, someone said, “Let’s go beach camping in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.” That suggestion also seemed reasonable; the sleepy hamlet on the Sea of Cortez was only a few hours south and west. We climbed into several vehicles and landed on the beach in Mexico. While we pitched shabby tents on the sand, we laughed at the retired folks who stayed couped up in RVs, watching television. Those of us who liked to read packed Carlos Castenada, Edward Abbey, and Aldo Leopold. When not reading on the beach: more beer, more laughter, rosy sunsets, the guys and gals flirting as night fell. We took trips into town during the hot afternoons for fresh fish, Cotija cheese, tortillas, and, of course, more beer. Some of us bought cheap tequila and limes, and for an entire weekend, the real world faded out.


Act Two

Date: March 2017

Location: Deming, NM; Palomas, Mexico

Retired now, I am hanging out for a few months in Deming, NM. I travel in a sweet little RV with a digital antenna and a television. After wintering in damp Central Florida and on Dauphin Island, AL, I appreciate the desert sunshine and the dry air. I hike during the peak wildflower season, taste familiar foods, and spend time in a community of other aging boomers.The vibe feels familiar, and I find myself reliving my younger days in the Southwest.

palomas_aerial_image.jpg (336×253)Retired folks feel stress too, no matter how peaceful the surroundings. One day someone in our group says, “Let’s go to lunch in Mexico!” This makes sense, Palomas is only 30 miles south, an easy day trip. We park on the U.S. side and walk over the border. At the Pink House, a long table is waiting for the LoW High RV Ranch gang (that’s us). The first margarita is free and the second only $3.00. We order food–for me gooey, cheesey, chicken enchildas smothered in sour cream–and spend a few hours chatting, eating, drinking, laughing. The old guys and gals flirt, as always. One guy, the one who did not drink, trips and falls into a fountain.We dry him off, check for cuts and bruises. A few of us wander over to the barber or the dentist. Not one of us forgets sunscreen and instead of tequila, we clutch white bags filled with cheap cholesterol and blood pressure meds. Finally, we meander back, across the border. Guards barely notice us, one small group in a wave of aging white folks who make the lunch pilgrimage. Besides, a bunch of tipsy old folks do not fit the smuggler profile. We laugh a few more times, and, for an afternoon, the real world fades.

Back at my RV, I fall into a deep sleep, but first I smile about how some things never change, and I marvel at being back in the Southwest and close to Mexico, the land of laughter, at least for a while. For many in Mexico life is anything but carefree, yet the locals enjoy our presence and our dollars, and they treat us well.



Act Three

Date: Next week

Location: Deming, NM; Palomas, Mexico


After a long desert hike, someone says, let’s go to lunch in Mexico….




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  1. And they say you can’t go back in time! Loved your account of these experiences, which happened so many decades apart. Carlos Castenada…I haven’t thought about that name for several decades, but at one time, he was an obsession!

  2. Oh! How lovely to get to relive some of your past adventures. I have never been to Mexico, despite growing up in Texas, but your piece made me wish I had. 🙂

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