Austin is as beautiful as El Paso is not.
I would like to have stayed a little longer but fate well and truly intervened.
I am exhausted.
Yesterday, after I was released by the ICE guys with my passport re stamped I spent an hour by myself. It was blissful.
Reunited with my fellow travelers, back in our luxurious transportation. The Dane, Lucie and I headed back to El Paso where we parked ourselves in a coffee shop…like I am doing now…and The Dane anxiously attempted to help Thomas by calling his friends, family and officials.
As we drove into El Paso I noticed something strange and scary.
All the palm trees were dead.
Trees that formerly decorated the forecourts of the huge car dealers on Montana are now just sad, brown stumps.
The same is true of commercial and domestic palms. Palms of all varieties…dead. Their bark ruptured, waiting for the woodsman to take them down.
What killed the palm trees?
Global warming? Climate change? El Paso just had the worst winter…ever. It killed palms, mesquite and cactus. If I had doubted climate change before…this was indeed the smoking gun.
I am persuaded. Climate change exists.
We would spend all day and most of the evening in El Paso at either the coffee shop or at the alien detention center where, at 7pm, we were allowed to see Thomas.
He looked miserable and cried a bit but anyone who has been to boarding school can attest this is just first day nerves.
Unlike boarding school they wouldn’t let us sit in the same room as the ‘detainee’ so we spoke on telephones peering at Thomas through bullet proof glass.
Nor did we hand him a book stuffed with dollars.
For me it was a total waste of time.
This idiotic boy had deliberately over stayed his visa, not renewed his passport and had the attitude of any entitled prick who thinks he should be allowed to stay anywhere he pleases.
I was even more pissed at The Dane for getting me involved with his half-baked friend. His ex Lucie was really sweet and had a great attitude. I have no complaints about her.
I just knew the moment I met Thomas that he was going to cause trouble.
An immature, exhibitionist thirty-one year old man who cater/waiters for a career is not someone I necessarily want to know. No, I am not being a snob. I am just angry. You will be pleased to hear that I did not lose my temper and remained remarkably calm.
Whilst they were fruitlessly contacting embassies I wandered around El Paso in the searing 110 degree heat checking out Kinsineta couture…see above.
I bumped into Nicholas, the manager of the El Paso hipster coffee shop who offered to not only help us out by visiting Thomas in detention but also offered to show me around. I leapt at the chance. If only to hang out with a relatively normal human being.
As they were moping over poor incarcerated Thomas, Nicholas took me to the very authentic Chico’s Tacos which was amazingly tasty and cheap.
We were both well fed for less that $5. Check the wiki link above. He then drove me to a mountain that over looks not only the city of El Paso but into the violent border town of Juarez, Mexico where there are (apparently) several drug related cartel murders every day.
“It is a miracle when there are no murders in Juarez.” Nicholas said sadly. “I love my country but we are not very good to each other.”
He told me about gunmen bursting into schools and shooting students. Weddings and funerals where the same happens. Endless, brutal Cartel related murders. He told me that the children of the Cartel roam El Paso boasting who their parents are and scaring the locals.
From the mountain we could very clearly see the controversial border fence that separates the USA from Mexico.
“Everybody in this town is involved with smuggling.” He said, looking over the vast, hot landscape. “People and drugs.”
I dropped Nicholas at his car then returned to The Dane and Lucie who had now finished with Thomas.
Inspired, I took them to Chico’s which they loved. I fed the dog and for the next four hours I drove through the night toward Austin from El Paso.
Lucie took the helm at 1am and I slept fitfully in the back of the SUV.
When I woke at 7am we were in Fredericksburg. A charming Teutonic historical town, tastefully planned and well manicured. We sat in the German Bakery and ate buns and drank hot, dark coffee. It was such a fucking relief to be out of El Paso and experiencing a different, altogether more understandable world.
Frankly I couldn’t wait to leave The Dane. It was not his fault per se but he and his friend took a risk with our vacation/trip to NYC that is not easily forgiven.
Thomas will go home to Sweden where he will hopefully grow the fuck up. Even in the detention center he was imagining that he could marry his girl friend at the facility and they would let him go back to his studio life in Brooklyn.