didn't have my registration. I said, "Absolutely," and gave him some paperwork
from my last maintenance tune-up. He looked over it carefully, or at least
that's what he thought we thought. I already knew what was coming. "I
can give you the ticket here, or we can go to the station," the officer
said, "but if I give you a ticket here, I can't give you a receipt." "We'll
just pay for it here," I said, imagining my car-keys thrusting into his
eyes. "Six hundred pesos." I gave him sixty dollars. "That's sixty-four
dollars," the officer with the large head and poofy-jelled hair said,
"enjoy your stay in Mexico."
brother and father would rant for some time about 'what's right' (taking
the offer to go to the station), I figured that the politics of corruption
are for Senor Fox, whose status in Baja California is that of hero and
corruption-killer. Three unfinished bottles of tequila, some limes, some
pears, some avocados, those were for us. The infringements that disciples
of power enact toward us is a matter of punishment of time. Six hundred
pesos is nothing next to thirty-days in Jail in Sinaloa, or years of courtroom
battles in California because some fuck decided to enter your life into
the legal system.
at the border in the salt-mining and whale-tourism town of Guerrero Negro,
the Officiales in yellow-chemical suits sprayed the truck with herbicides
and said, "You have any contraband? Fruits? Vegetables?" "Yes!" we said,
opening the cargo door. "Here's some tomatoes," I said, giving him the
contents of our cooler. "And limes, and pears. Oh and here's some oranges.
You want our avocados too?" "I think I see another pear in your cooler,"
the Official said. Hours south, past fields of red-rock volcanic lava-tubes,
distant volcanoes, and the palm-lined citrus town called San Ignacio,
we stopped at a datil stand to buy palm dates.
ratty dogs followed us to the stand, where weathered men were playing
Backgammon and sipping Tecate. The store owner threw rocks at the dogs,
and issued them to leave us alone. Hans said, "never throw your date-seeds
out the window. Bring out everything you bring in." Pulling away, the
store owner picked a few more stones for her dogs and they yipped and
jumped. People, and the way they treat their animals, is a tell-all of
their own lives. We passed Volcan Tres Virgenes, the third largest peak
in the Baja's, listening to Miles Davis' and John Coltrane's Flamenco
Sketches. When we passed a zone of knobby pencil cholla, and the high
notes kicked in on the piano, I looked over at Brother Hans, and back
at Father, none of them talking. I realized that home is not a run-down
house in LA with a palm tree and a grill, or even a fireplace and some
snow - but a collection of family, together wherever that may be.