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.

Mexico City, again

dflrWE ARE HEADING to the nation’s capital next week for a few days. I don’t want to go, but I’m going anyway. It’s a necessity. We have an apartment over there.

My child bride bought it in the late 1990s with the help of her then-employer, the Mexican highway department.

The price was subsidized, and she paid just about $10,000. Now it’s worth about $50,000 due to the neighborhood’s moving significantly upscale even though it’s on the oft-gritty, near northside.

It’s very small and would fit into the Hacienda’s living room. Literally, I measured. But it has two tiny bedrooms (only one has a closet), a living room/dining room space, a minuscule kitchen, a small laundry area on a tiny back balcony, and a bathroom that is so itty-bitty the sink is out in the hallway, not the bathroom.

It was still not paid off when we married, but I paid it off a few years later. When we got married in 2002, she rented the apartment to a coworker and his wife. They stayed there, paying just the measly mortgage payments, until December of 2006 when they bought their own home. We decided not to rent it again.

So in January 2007, we drove over, painted the place in Hacienda colors, bought new furniture and appliances, and planned even more improvements that we have never gotten around to doing. The first couple of years we spent lots of time there, but the visits gradually tapered off to near nothing.

The first few years, we drove there. Yes, I have driven the Hellish streets of Mexico City.  A lot! It is stressful, to put it mildly. The only accident I have had in my years in Mexico happened in Mexico City, a minor fender-bender — but still. I have had my car towed three times in this country. Two of those tows took place in Mexico City.

Finally, around 2011, I decided not to drive there anymore. Now we take buses, and when we are in Mexico City, we get around mostly in taxis but occasionally on the subway, the Metrobus and jitneys called peseros. I prefer taxis, but those experiences depend a lot on the specific cabbie. Sometimes it can be hair-raising.

We once had a cabbie who would just about fall asleep at each red light. I was watching him through his rear-view mirror as I sat in the middle of the back seat. And between red lights, he would floor it till the next corner. We never made it to our destination. We got out, and paid what we owed.

He’s probably dead now, killed in fiery explosion.

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The Taxis

Taxis had a particularly bad reputation in Mexico City about seven or so years ago. The scuttlebutt was that you hailed one on the street at your peril. Some robberies and worse had occurred.

However, if you stood on any Mexico City street corner, you would spot tens, or hundreds if you stood there a bit longer, of taxis racing by with customers sitting in the back, safe and sound. No blood, no nuttin´.

So we did hail them on the street, and we lived to talk about it. A good system I used whenever possible was to stand on a corner and wait till a cab deposited a customer nearby. My thinking was that if that customer was not murdered, we would not likely be murdered either, and we never were.

But in recent years, the city government appears to have improved and better regulated the taxi system. With some exceptions for special services, all taxis now are painted the same color scheme, not like the rainbows of former years, and all honest cabs have special license plates. Most are honest.

And they use meters. All in all, the system works great.

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The Deed

We’ve been trying to get the deed to the apartment in our hands for a few years. The place has long been paid off, but getting the deed has to be done in person in Mexico City, where we visit infrequently now, at the office of a special kind of lawyer called a notario.

With the help of a neighbor, who tracked down two of the notarios who do the deeding for our specific location, we will be visiting the office of one of them on Monday. In the World Trade Center.* We have heard through the gossip pipeline that it’s gonna cost us between $2,000-$2,500. That’s U.S. bucks.

But we won’t be paying that on Monday, I imagine. We’re just take one more baby step closer to having the deed one distant day. When we have it, I would love to sell the apartment to avoid ever having to set foot in Mexico City again. Not a fan, amigos.

There are some fascinating things there, but the incredible hassle of merely getting from Point A to Point B via the maniac traffic or jammed subway in that tumultuous city is more than I want to mess with.

You can have it. Actually, for a price, you can have the apartment too. Special price for Moon fans.**

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* Yes, there is a World Trade Center in Mexico City, and its name is in English. Like the doomed one in New York City, it is very tall. Luckily, the Mohammedan population of Mexico is a fraction of one percent. They don’t much like it here, and that’s fine by me.

** $38,000, furniture, appliances, one parking spot included.