Monday, April 7

Arriving in Mexico and My First New Friends...

We arrived in El Porvenir on Saturday night just as the sun was setting.  We had picked up David (our translator) in Fowler, CA, just outside of Fresno, where we stayed Friday night at the Fowler Presbyterian Church.  We were on our way from Folwer by about 8 am in order to get to our destination before sun down.  Crossing over the border is a much simpler process on Saturday than
we would experience a week later but the Mexican authorities did want to make sure to search the trailer that Rusty was hauling behind the van.  After a quick search, we were officially in Mexico!

I had ridden in a car many years ago in Mexico and remember the crazy driving that happens there.  Now I was the driver.  Upon crossing the border we were met with "Alto" signs (stop), and frequent ones.  Stop lights are very few in the area we were at, and though the traffic signs and signals seemed to be more like suggestions to most drivers, I certainly felt safer driving in Tecate than I did driving in LA.  Our first stop was at a local gas station where we did a little money exchanging.  Looking back I would have probably exchanged more, as the exchange rate was rather shady in some areas than in others.... but more on that.

Our next stop was in a town just off the road from Tecate to El Porvenir.  Getting to that first stop was not easy.  On the highway, if there is shoulder that is also defined as a "passing" lane.  I put that in quotes as there really isn't enough room for 2 cars but they make due.  David lets us know that this highway is in great condition compared to the way the road once was.  The road is also full of trucks, fast and slow, as well as many tour buses taking Americans to Ensenada through the recently made wine country.  We arrive at our first stop just off the highway, on a dirt road subdivision.  All the homes in Mexico are much like this one.  A fence surrounds the perimeter of the house and most houses have well put together fences made of brick, stones and rot-iron.  The fences serve 2 purposes:  1. They keep the dogs in and out.  Dogs roam the streets in Mexico looking for something to eat and somewhere to go, and everyone has a least one, for companionship and protection.  2. The fence serves as a way to keep the bad guys out.  Every night the fences are locked, as we would like our front doors.  Crime is not a serious problem and the well fenced houses serve to detour would be vandalizers.

The house we arrive at is Grandma Beatrice and Carmelo's home.  In the home is one of their daughters whom lives in California, a son, Micheal and Michael's 2 children who are in Middle School and High School.  Carmelo wastes no time in letting all of us know that he is 92 years young and his wife is spry and very excitable younger woman (probably around 86).  Michael it seems as had a very difficult life, in and out of prison with substance abuse issues, he responds incredibly well to our visit.  Though it's my first time at their home, Rusty, David and the group has been there many times before.  We spent a few minutes in greeting, made sure to invite them for dinner later on in the week and then it was off for the last leg of our journey, about a 20 minute drive to our destination at El Porvenir.

By the time we arrived, they were getting ready to send out a search party as our stops, including lunch at In and Out Burger in LA, had made us a little tardy.  Our guest home was a little over 2500 square feet, an original children's home, with bedding for everyone of our 29 people.  After unpacking and picking out rooms, we made our way to my new favorite spot, Gregorio's Taco Stand!

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