It has been several days since I’ve returned to Humboldt from Mexico. It’s been a rough adjustment. When I left there was an autumn chill in the air, but I returned to a cold winter drippiness. I miss the feel of the sun and the warm wind, the sound of the lilting voices in the taquerias and the constant rise and fall of the waves on the Sea of Cortez.
This was a journey that started over two years ago. Through no one’s fault but my own, I was exceptionally unhappy. Late nights spent curled in a sobbing fetal position gave way to a slow realization that I had shoved myself into a box that just didn’t fit. Mark and I became friends during that time. He was funny and easy to talk to. I tried not to show how miserable I was, but one day I was feeling particularly wretched and was talking to him on the phone.
Through hiccups and sniffles and ragged breaths I told him how much I hated my life. “I just want to run away. Why don’t you come with me. We’ll head for the Sea of Cortez and never come back.” His response was simple. “Okay.”
It was my first inkling that maybe someday we’d be more than just friends.
Several months later I moved to a little handmade hippie shack where I could finally breathe again. A couple of months after that Mark and I began spending a lot of time together. A few weeks ago we set out at 4 a.m. to finally visit the Sea of Cortez together like we’d talked about, even if we were planning on coming back this time.
Thanks to LA traffic, it took us nearly sixteen hours to reach National City where we spent the night. We planned to cross the border early in the morning and to have our first glorious bite of a fish taco before 10 a.m.
I cheered excitedly as we crossed the border. We knew we had to get tourist visas, so we stopped to try to ask someone where to go. The man at the gate looked irritated, refused to talk to us and waved us through…..and suddenly we were past the declarations area and on a one-way street in Tijuana. There was no way to turn around and get back to the border crossing area. Our only option was to get in the line heading back into the U.S., turn around and cross the border again. So that’s what we did….and three hours later we were back at the border crossing area to get our tourist visas. At least there were churros while we waited.
You would think that getting a tourist visa would be simple. You would be wrong. First you go to the Immigration Office to fill out an application. Then they tell you to go to the bank to pay your fee. But the bank only accepts pesos. So then you have to go exchange your money, and if the one woman who works there happens to be in the bathroom, you wait….for a very long time. After you exchange your money, you go back to the bank, pay your fee and they stamp your application. Then you take your stamped application back to the Immigration Office where they finally give you a card. Then you will spend your entire time in Mexico waiting for someone to check that you have a tourist visa. No one ever will.
Tourist cards placed securely in passports, we got back into the car and immediately proceeded to get completely lost in Tijuana.
Somehow we managed to find the Transpeninsular Highway and finally had our first glorious bite of a fish taco before 3 p.m.
We stayed in Ensenada that night. Exhausted from the long drive and somewhat stressful day, we had just enough energy to meander along the boardwalk. The boats in the harbor were filled with lights, people and blaring music. The dock was covered in loudly barking sea lions. It was a strangely beautiful cacophony.
Back on the side streets before falling into bed in our cheap hotel room, we took note of Ensenada’s favorite super hero, who seemed to appear around every turn. All Hail Super Viagra Man!