Its been about seven months since we left San Diego for Mexico, and now that I'm back for a short visit I've noticed a few things:
1. It's really cold up here. People are wearing jackets. I came up with only shorts and tee shirts and I'm cold.
2. The border crossing was painless. There is a sign posted at the entrance to the US side of the border that promises that the US personal will: A. Be happy to see you and will try to be welcoming. B. Will treat you with courtesy and respect. There was more on the sign, but the line was moving to fast for me to read the rest. I did think that they met points A and B.
3. The papers here are in English. I can read the headlines. What a treat.
4. San Diego has a great public transportation system. The trolley from the border into town was great. There were about twenty stops between the border and the last stop, where I got off, and all of them had plenty of parking and connecting buses. The trolley runs right thru downtown.....on the surface. None of the hugely expensive deep bore tunnels that Seattle seems to think are necessary
5. Things are big here. I went past Petco Stadium, the home of the San Diego Padres (I think), and it was huge. Who would think that Petco was selling enough dog food to pay for the naming rights.
6. The Navy owns most of the waterfront here. There are literally miles of shipyards filled with exotic looking naval vessels. We passed one building, probably half a mile long, that was occupied soley by defense contractors.
7. I saw 36 policemen on the trip in from the border. I began counting at one of the stations where there were 27 cops all standing around looking for troublemakers. I wish I had taken a picture. It must have been some sort of special operation. There are a lot of cops in Mexico, but they never have the presence that I saw today.
8. Things are neat. No litter anywhere. It may not be as perfect as Disneyland, but it's darn close. Public spaces are pristine and most of the houses and yards I saw were very neat and tidy. I think Mexico is about 50 years behind the US when it comes to clutter and litter, but they are paying attention and they are catching up quick, double timing it.
9. The US is rich. We went through some very modest neighborhoods, poor even, but nothing approaching the level of poverty in Mexico. Well off Mexicans have homes that are as splendid as those of well off Gringos, but the homes of the poor are profoundly worse then those of American poor. Looking at the way we choose to spend our money, I don't know if we can maintain such a high standard if we aren't smart with our wealth. For example the naval presence here is overwhelming. So is the expense.
What or who is it that scares us so much that we arm ourselves to the teeth, while we neglect so many pressing needs, like our children's education. I can't imagine a worse threat to the peace then a horde of unhappy, uneducated, unemployable American kids with unlimited time on their hands.
Oops, that sounds political......