Thursday, March 20, 2008

border-day.... & truly a 'laptop'-posting

To begin, on this first full evening of spring,
I post an "almost-live" view of where/how I am typing this:

I've never truly used my laptop as a "laptop"--more as a small desk-top-machine instead...
But the comfort of the couch has beckoned...and an out-of-town-relative
has taken over the second-bedroom where my desk is, and so here we go...

Today, we took said out-of-town-relative down the road for a foreign-lunch experience;
Tucson is only about 60 miles north of the Mexican border and the twin-towns of Nogales AZ and Nogales Sonora. (Trivia: I-19, which links Tucson and I-10 to Nogales, is the only metric highway in the U.S.; there are kilometer-postings instead of mileage, although the speed limit is still listed in mph...)

On the way, we stopped for a quick glance at San Xavier Mission, built during the last days of the Spanish Empire of the SW, a final flowering of New World baroque, pared down for its desert surroundings in the 1700's:

...some of the smaller barrel cactus in the garden are beginning to sprout their 'crowns-of-flowers':

(I've always found it curious that the prominent handle on the front door to the mission church is in the form of a serpent:)

(The addition of a rattlesnake to the door--an environmentally correct ornamentation, perhaps, but theologically 'challenged', no?)

A large vellum manuscript, dating also from the 18th century can be found in the small museum.
The artist seemed to have problems getting the proportions right.
This capital "L" is adorned with a bloated baby...I guess the truly gifted manuscript-illuminators didn't make it all the way to the Sonoran desert...

This recent addition of a quail-family running along the base of a wall is, arguably,

Then...back on the road down to Mexico.

Or, more accurately--the road down to the border, for Nogales is not a true sampling of Mexico.

It is truly a shame that for so many Americans their first and perhaps only impressions of Mexico come from visiting border-towns--Tijuana just south of San Diego, Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, or Nogales, the principal point of entry from Arizona. The desperation of the third world crowds up to the U.S. frontera, and a skewed vision of Mexico is the end result. Throw in increasingly anti-immigrant sentiment and the whole debate about immigration-reform, and a simple walk across a line on the way to lunch can become a meditation on geo-political conflict steeped in lack of empathy, with envy, condescension and resentment thrown in.

We did, though, enjoy our meal in this restaurant recommended in an article in this week's Chicago Tribune, (really worth reading!), which I stumbled upon just the other day:

The dining room is buit into the side of a rocky hill, (thus the name "La Roca") and it overlooks a colonial-style courtyard:

Across from the restaurant is a gallery/gift-shop, full of some of the finest handicrafts from all over Mexico. This room, with a broken talavera-pottery-wall and massive mesquite furniture, is particularly striking:

And then to cross back to the U.S., you leave the elegance of upper-class Mexico, walk back along a 'colorful' bar-and-'massage-parlor'-lined street to end up waiting in line to go through immigration control. There, a legless-man in a wheelchair is selling gum and letting all the people standing in line know, in Spanish and in English, that there are three lines once you get inside the building...

But the hour is getting late, now, for a border-meditation.

The boundary between 'local color,' and arbitrary unjust 'fate' is a fine line...enough to put one in a pensive funk.

The guacamole was, truly, good...The humanity and lack thereof, on the other hand--makes you want to cross on over, keep moving...but even that act--the division between 'legal' and 'illegal', entry permitted and entry denied, with gross inequities as a spotlight--is proof of the funk-inducing nature of the Mexican-American border.

The old (inherently curmudgeonly, if not xenophobic) adage--'fences make good neighbors' comes to mind. It should be changed to "fences make neighbors weird." Or maybe "fences un-make neighbors"...or, "Good fences will make neighbors go away." But they don't. They never have. Not when the neighbors need work. And not when this side of the fence has more 'fruit' than the other...just watch out for the snakes...

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