The great escape

Steve McQueen made a “Great Escape” over a border. Me too!

WHEN I LEFT America in January 2000, I thought I was merely moving to another country to start a new adventure.

While that was true, what I did not realize at the time was that I, just like Steve McQueen in the photo above, was making my own Great Escape. But I wasn’t escaping from the Nazis. I was escaping from the United States.

When I hightailed it, things were fairly normal above the Rio Bravo. Bill Clinton was president. The economy was running well, and people were getting along pretty good.

There was no Black Lives Matter. There were no Antifa thugs running riot in the streets. There were no geriatric socialist presidential candidates. Conservative speakers were not tarred and feathered on university campuses.

There were no Safe Spaces, and public restrooms were either “Gentlemen” or “Ladies” or sometimes “Setters” and “Pointers.” Humor had not been banned.

Still standing were the World Trade Center in New York, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. And nobody outside Illinois had heard of Barack Hussein Obama.

Farther afield, there were no Mohammedan mobs being invited into European nations, nor to the United States either. Gays were not suing Mom & Pop bakeries over wedding cakes.

You got your porno on DVDs through the mail. It took some cash and effort. Nowadays it requires neither.

There was no Twitter, Facebook or iPhones.

Television dramas and sit-coms were not expected to kowtow to thought police. I read recently that the wildly popular sit-com Friends could not be made today, and it’s true.

The cast was all white. They poked fun at ethnic groups. The show’s crimes against PC were relentless, but nobody cared back then. We just laughed and laughed.

Seinfeld too would be verboten.

But the laughter has faded away. You must avoid saying certain true things, or you run a real risk of losing your job and/or friends and your social standing.

Everything went to the devil after I moved south. I’ve witnessed it exclusively via the internet, not in person.

Man, oh, man, I got out of there in the nick of time.

Watch your step

THERE’S A street project right off the main plaza downtown that’s been going on since last autumn, which is a long time because the renovation is just two lengthy blocks.

This project interests me, and I take a stroll by there almost every weekday after sitting at a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.

In the United States, it would have been done far faster, and the entire work site would be blocked off so pedestrians and gawkers like me could not walk all over the place.

Around the workmen. Hopping over wet cement.

Here, no effort is made to keep pedestrians out of the work area, and none of the workers sports a hard hat. The main reason the project is taking so long is that there is little mechanized about it. It’s strictly manual labor.

If a passerby trips on something, falls and busts his noodle, he should have watched where he was going. He does not sue the city. We are not litigious that way.

The work started last year with an extensive excavation. New sewer and water lines were buried deep as were electric cables and wires in fat orange conduits.

Part of the reason the project is taking so long is the detail work, primarily on the sidewalks.

I should have photographed some of the detail, but I didn’t. This is fine rock work that will last a century.

There is sunken lighting for a nice nighttime look.

About the only nod to modernity are wheelchair ramps.

This photo shows the area where most of the stone is being worked to make it usable. It was a rose garden outside the church/hospital to the left before the renovation began.

Big stones are cut to size by hammer and chisel.

The scenes of the first two photos are at the end of the block down thataway, the far side.

We don’t have the reams of rules and regulations here that are so prevalent above the Rio Bravo, rules and regs made necessary by lawyers and government meddling. No environmental impact study was required.

Bugs were just squashed.

Here, if you need something done you hire some guys and do it. There are always guys available, plenty of idle hands of men who never grasped the need for schooling.

Just around the corner from the renovation I noticed this sign outside a tiny pharmacy. Look what you can have done. (Excuse the photos’ blurry edges. I had the camera set for that effect, but I did not notice till later.)

You can measure your blood sugar and blood pressure, or get a pap test.

You can get a medical certificate, maybe to get out of class. A problem with your toenails? No sweat.

A wound will be bandaged, and if you need an injection, they’ll stick you with the appropriate needle.

And all will cost next to nothing, and no pricey doctor reference is needed, but a doctor is likely there. Just go in, pay a buck or two if you want some medical advice or a prescription.

Living here is easy. Even if renovating a street takes forever. It will last forever after it’s finished.

Oh, the irony

MEXICO, IT TURNS out, is not keen on illegal aliens.

At least, the ones who want to stay in Mexico instead of doing the expected thing of riding atop a train to the Rio Bravo, jumping off and swimming across. When they do that, well, no sweat.

We rob them and screw them along the way.

The Trump Administration, a gift that keeps on giving, simply by being in office, has resulted in a significant drop in border invasions. Illegals have second thoughts. Many are detouring to Canada, thanks to young, clueless Trudeau.

But many are Hondurans who, after sneaking into Southern Mexico, are deciding to go no farther. After all, Mexico is a real step up from grisly Honduras.

As a result, crime and social problems are soaring. Surprise! So Mexico is deporting illegals back where they came from.

Sometimes diversity ain’t so sweet.

Figures show that Mexico has deported 16,332 Hondurans since January. More details available here.

Oh, the irony.

All nations need border walls.

Just like home

SEVENTEEN YEARS ago when I packed my two bags and flew to Mexico alone to reinvent myself in late middle age, I arrived in a spectacularly strange world.

Many of the things I was accustomed to simply were not available down here, and most of those things were commercial. I am a fan of capitalism and the goodies it offers.

Flash forward from 2000 to 2017 and — oh, my — how things have changed. Just about anything you can buy above the Rio Bravo is now available Down Mejico Way.

There is even a Mexican version of Amazon.com even though I much prefer our homegrown MercadoLibre.

The list of Gringo chain stores in Mexico is too lengthy to repeat here, and it seems to grow longer each year.*

I was particularly delighted when Bed Bath & Beyond, one of my favorite stores when I lived up north, opened recently in the nearby state capital. I shop there often.

There are eight BB&Bs in Mexico. Six are in Mexico City or its environs. A seventh is in Cuernavaca, the not-too-distant Mexico City playground,  and the eighth is in our capital city, the only one relatively remote from Mexico City.

Why were we chosen over the considerably larger burgs of Guadalajara or Monterrey? God knows.

Mexico commercially improves on a daily basis. You can now get most of what is available to the Gringos up north. Plus, we have great tacos, fresh avocados and beautiful babes.

Best of both worlds.

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* Very incomplete list: Best Buy, Sears, Costco, Walmart, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chili’s, Sirloin Stockade, iHop, Home Depot, Office Depot, Office Max, KFC, DQ, Starbucks.

(Note: We don’t depend entirely on the Gringos for great shopping. For example, the Mexican chain El Palacio de Hierro — The Iron Palace — will knock your high-end socks off, especially the flagship store in Mexico City’s Polanco.)