Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crossing at Nogales

One day my friend Kathi and I went to Nogales on a booze and cigarette run. While waiting in line to declare our citizenship and our purchases, we witnessed a way to cross the border illegally right under the customs agents' noses.

There were two lines open that day and the third, the line next to ours, was closed. A trashcan had been placed in front of the turnstile. An older Mexican man was directly in front of me. In front of him a younger man. At a signal from the older man, the younger guy dropped to the floor and scooted over to the turnstile and moved the trashcan out of the way. There he squatted just a foot from our agent's back. After another signal from the older man, he got back in line.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Reaper's Line

Lee Morgan II is someone I'd probably enjoy running into at the Longhorn in Amado, Arizona. We'd sit down over beers and he'd regale all present with tales of his life as a Customs Service Special Agent busting drug smugglers while having to deal with corruption on both sides of the border. Mr. Morgan never holds back - not in his language, not in his feelings about both governments, not in naming names. I was curious to see if he would mention an old neighbor of mine who used to work the border and sure enough, there he was, a man Lee has no respect for and he doesn't hide that fact.

I wish more people would read this book given today's illegal immigration fury. Lee writes how important it is to make a distinction between the dope smugglers crossing our southern border and the poor people who come north looking for jobs. He paints the Minutemen and other vigilante groups as racist and a dangerous hindrance for law enforcement. I was sickened by the chapter on the Barnett brothers who own a ranch in Cochise County and who at one point wanted to have "safari adventures for people who wanted to track down illegal aliens."

It's also interesting to read about the obstacles agents face in trying to do their jobs - for instance, they have no radio contact with highway patrol. How crazy is that? Pretty fucking nuts and he'll guarandamntee that!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Airstreams and SOBs

Why I chose an Airstream...

Airstream aficionados - or Airstreamers - speak disdainfully of Some Other Brands (SOBs). You know, all those motor coaches and trailers that look alike inside and out. Can you tell the difference between a Dolphin or a Gulf Stream as you pass one on the highway? No, not until you see its name splashed across its side or back. But I bet you know an Airstream when you see one.

When I started this adventure, I didn't want to be an RVer, someone who lives in any old SOB. I wanted to be an Airstreamer. What do you envision when you think of RVs? Concrete parks with forty-foot motor coaches lined up one next to the other, barely enough room to open an awning. When you think of Airstreams, don't you picture lonely desert highways? That is what I wanted.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nirvana in the Sonoran Desert

When I left Portland, Oregon, six years ago I wasn't quite sure where I'd live once I reached the desert. In Tucson I toured various RV parks around town, most of which were 55 and older parks. As I drove through paved and neatly landscaped parks in my one-ton van, my throat would tighten. Panic would wash over me as I thought I can't live in one of these places. I don't fit in here. American flags waved from nearly every RV site. Lively senior citizens waved from golf carts.

About 30 miles south of Tucson I came across a former KOA recognizable by its A-frame office building. The Santa Rita Mountains rose in the background. In the front of the park were about 50 RV sites; in the back was the mobile home area. People and trailers of all shapes, sizes and ages stayed there, not just overnight campers or snowbirds but people who lived there year round: retirees, working stiffs, disabled vets, druggies. It was my kind of place.

I lived at that park for two years. There I found nirvana. Or my version at least. I was never as happy as I was there. Oh sure, life wasn't perfect. I had my moments of worry and doubt especially when dealing with arrogant bastards, with living in a red state, with listening to rants directed at Hispanic people whether they lived in the U.S. legally or not.

After leaving the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, I went to the Sonoran Desert in Mexico.

This blog is not only about life in that park and life in Mexico but it's about finding your place in the world. It's about finding peace and contentment. It's about finding a spiritual path without having lots of money and the means to travel to countries whose names begin with the letter "I".

It's about trailer park life.