Adventure in Mexico
Jenny Lee McGinn
Copyright 2020 by Jenny Lee McGinn
been to Mexico?
was an unplanned, completely out of the blue side excursion a few
years ago, and I am happy to say that we lived to tell the
tale…otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. In fact,
it is quite possible if events ended differently, the incident most
likely would not have made any front page news, and certainly not in
began rather innocently when I traveled to New Mexico for a two week
business trip to train police officers for an instructor course. Most
of the team arrived Sunday while I arrived on Saturday along with
another colleague, also a dear friend, in order to set up the
classroom ahead of time. I was especially grateful for the early
arrival as this was my first time flying in nearly thirty years and I
did not want the additional stress of not only flying but settling
into my hotel room and preparing for a two week training all in one
day. I enjoy the setup process not to mention the extra time with my
partner whom I do not see often. She and I are like two peas in a pod
with many similarities and interests. Some parallels include sharing
the same middle name and birthday. She has a twin sister and I tell
her I am her other twin just two years younger. Where we differ
slightly is in adventure. Although I am all for and welcome
spur-of-the-moment trips, sometimes I like a little advance planning.
Lindsay, however, likes those that simply reveal themselves
organically on the spot without any serious thought.
landing in El Paso and greeting each other, we loaded our luggage
into the rental car Lindsay had already acquired. We were hungry and
ready for our first adventure- lunch. Being in Texas so close to the
Mexican border, we wanted to have authentic Mexican food, so
naturally we selected a very non Mexican sounding restaurant, “Good
Coffee” to celebrate our arrival. Food ordered and served, we
discussed various sightseeing options in the area prior to driving
north to the training site in New Mexico. I commented that I wanted
to see “the wall” separating Mexico from Texas. I had
never been this close to Mexico and we were sitting but a few mere
miles away. Lindsay took it one step further and suggested we see it
up close and personal. “Why don’t we just drive to
Mexico?” she suggested. I was hesitant but relished the thought
of seeing another country right at my fingertips. She sensed my
slight balking at the idea as I said I really wanted to see the wall,
but she reminded me that I recently renewed my passport and should
put it to work. A year prior at a training in New York we took a side
trip to Niagara Falls but couldn’t see it from Canada as my
passport was expired. Thoughts quickly ran through my mind about
being so close to another country and this time having legal
documentation to go. Images of actually driving across the border was
exciting, adventurous, and spontaneous. I was in.
which was a delicious Mexican entrée, we entered our car and
drove the few short miles to the border. It was amazing! There it
was--a large sign welcoming us to Mexico! We weren’t stopped to
show any identification and that baffled me; we simply drove across
the border into another country. I had been to Canada many times
growing up and although passports were not necessary back then, we
were stopped at the border every time in both directions. We decided
to do a self-guided tour in the car with no plans of getting out to
walk. Snapping photos as we trekked around on main roads, I took in
as much as I could. It was the first time I saw speed limit signs in
kilometers. We briefly discussed driving to the city of Chihuahua
because Lindsay had friends there, but it was three hours away and we
still had a drive north to the training location.
were impressed how clean the streets were, free of debris and trash.
We observed several fascinating performers, undoubtedly, to separate
tourists from their money. One very talented young man juggled
multiple balls while riding a unicycle in the middle of a traffic
intersection. When his lane turned green, he expertly dismounted and
trotted into the medium to wait for the next opportunity to display
his talent. Not everyone traveled around town in a car. Of course,
there were motorcycles, trucks, and bicyclists, but one fellow used
an unusual vehicle. He was not a tourist but a local. We knew this
because of his mode of transportation. He operated a decked out
electric wheelchair, complete with a triangular reflector and break
lights, and he was in a traffic lane no different from the
automobiles. He was prepared for all types of weather with a
makeshift plastic covering to stay dry. Upon initial observation
while stopped at a traffic light, my first thought was he was a local
performer or vendor. However, on closer inspection of his vehicle, I
realized I was most likely wrong. Hanging along side of him was a
colostomy bag in serious need of emptying. I immediately felt bad for
him but simultaneously applauded his ingenuity to remain independent.
of the more beautiful sights were all the family oriented parks with
plenty of open space and playgrounds. It was impressive how many
there were. Several horsemen with matching ponies stood throughout
the parks, possibly offering tourists rides for a small fee. The
horses and ponies were beautiful in various shades of brown and tan.
At nearly every intersection were vendors offering snacks and drinks,
some of which were made with fresh fruits and vegetables. I wanted to
purchase a local beverage but we didn’t have a chance to stop
as traffic moved along swiftly.
on the major thorough fares, we were stunned at the various forms of
outdoor entertainment. Myriad soccer games took place on dirt fields
and an actual motocross course was smack dab in the middle of the two
main roads. We didn’t see residential neighborhoods but rather
small businesses and shops. We passed several side streets that were
blocked off and saw people removing the barricades for cars to enter.
We heard music and deduced it must be a festival. We couldn’t
see any activity, but we heard it.
an hour into our sightseeing excursion an unfortunate incident
were stopped at a traffic light in preparation of a left turn on a
street we’d traveled earlier. To the right of us was a police
car stopped and I told Lindsay so she knew. Our turn signal was
properly activated. After the light turned green and we made the
legal left turn, I knew we would be stopped…my intuition was
pulled over as directed mumbling “oh shit” multiple times
and I quickly got Lindsay’s wallet with not only her passport
and driver’s license, but her retired police officer
credentials. I had mine ready if needed. One officer approached our
car while his partner waited at theirs. Stomach fluttering furiously,
I attempted to keep calm. Unpleasant thoughts ran through my head,
but everyone remained professional. He spoke better English than he
led on, and asked if we spoke Spanish, which truthfully, we did not.
When asked why we were there we told him we were sightseeing prior to
going to New Mexico for business. When Lindsay handed him her
identification including her retired creds she said, “And we
is exactly what happened next: He took her information, held it up to
show his partner, handed it back to her, and said to have a nice day.
That was it. We politely thanked him, I put her identification away,
and using the turn signal, we respectfully drove off.
to say, we have no photos of this incident.
our hearts pounding less and fear fading, we decided right then that
our sightseeing was finished and we needed to find the way back
across the border to the United States. Alas, that wasn’t as
easy as getting into Mexico.
were there signs to America. We drove around the same roads so many
times that we knew our way around. We saw one sign that made mention
of the U.S. but nowhere was access to cross the bridge. I finally did
see the border wall, two different ones in fact, but from the Mexican
side. Feeling less adventurous, after an hour I was about to leap out
of my skin. It was getting later and I feared we’d never get
out of Mexico. It was about this time we were thankful the city of
Chihuahua was too far away.
turned down a now familiar blocked-off side street to ask for
information. After fumbling through our desire to cross the bridge,
two men speaking Spanish discussed our dilemma amongst themselves.
They nodded at each other then moved the barricade and let us through
to the festival…which wasn’t really a festival at all.
It was music and performers with lots of people milling around, but
they crowded the streets hoping passers-through would purchase
something on their way to America. We saw in the distance the bridge
to the United States with a long line of vehicles ahead of us, but we
were on our way! I was so grateful I told Lindsay that once on
American soil I wanted to hop out of the car and kiss the ground.
entering Mexico, when we arrived at the border, the officer asked us
for all of our identification and passports. He eyed us suspiciously
and authoritatively asked what we were doing in Mexico. His eyebrows
rose questionably when we explained who we were and why we were
there. He approached our car and peered into the darkened windows and
asked if we had any weapons, which we did not. I reckon in retrospect
it must have been a reasonable question about why we were there.
After all, here we were, two middle aged Caucasian women driving a
fancy black Yukon with Colorado plates…nothing else would have
shown we were tourists short of a sign stating such that said, “Stop
us, please.” After checking us in and conversing for several
moments, we must’ve convinced him that we were not drug dealers
or weapon traffickers. We appreciated his thoroughness and only hoped
he was as thorough with other people who looked more suspicious of
evildoing than we. Cleared, we continued on our way to freedom, which
brought on an entirely new feeling of being blessed to be an
made it to New Mexico without incident, and as we drove across the
state border I thought about how Dorothy felt when she made it back
to Kansas, “there is no place like home.” At the training
we shared our tale of adventure and only then did we learn how
fortunate we truly were. Several officers local to the area informed
us that many Mexican police officers despise American law enforcement
and our stop could have resulted much worse, the grisly details of
which I will spare. All in all, it was an adventure of a lifetime,
however, one I will not take again in this fashion. It was by far a
most unforgettable and exciting experience.
I mention that the border in which we crossed lead to Cuidad Juarez,
I reside in rural Pennsylvania and enjoy writing
poems, songs, and short stories, often for other people on special
occasions. I have two faithful pups who are by my side as much as
they can be! Spending time with them as well as my family and friends
is important and when weather permits, wind therapy on the motorcycle
is an excellent way to de-stress and free my soul.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Another story by Jenny
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