Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Knife? I Don't See A Knife...OW!

My in-laws are big on vacations. Practically every year they go somewhere cool like Florida, New Orleans, DisneyLand...a lot of times they take my husband & I along because we're quiet (at least I am), neat and don't eat much. They've taken me to Orlando, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Jose, Tijuana....and Juarez.

I went to Juarez the first year I was married. I had never been out of the country before (not that Juarez is THAT much out of the country, but still...) and was excited to see everything that I had heard so much about, i.e the cheap jewelry and leather coats! We crossed the border that first day from El Paso into Juarez on a bus. The bus driver was a little Mexican guy who watched everything but the road. He cut cars off, changed lanes without looking, running vehicles off the road, sped...when he came to a stop inside the little garage, he braked inches away from a brick wall. I was sitting in the front seat with my mother-in-law. We both thought we were going to be squished.

I stepped onto the streets of Juarez for the first time and was immediately assaulted with cries of "Hey, Blondie...wanna buy a blanket?" "Hey, Blondie...wanna buy some jewelry? It'll look reeeal nice on choo." Oh, my God! I was terrified! It never stopped...the cries from the vendors were continuous! Then they started in on Jeff...at the time he had really long hair and was wearing a fringed leather coat.

"Hey Bon Jovi, wanna buy a guitar?" Jeff actually bought the guitar. I think it cost him $17! We bought some blankets and some tequila and a couple watches and some 800mg ibuprofen, which is the real reason I was there! Gimme the drugs, baby! Woo!

Anyway...the second day, my mother-in-law (Pat) decided she was tired of the street vendors, piled us into a taxi and ordered him to take us to good out-of-the-way stores. The first one I found a red leather fringed jacket. It was soooo pretty. I asked how much. "$150."

"Too much," I said sadly, turning away. She immediately began chirping at me...

"How much you pay? How much you pay?" I looked at Pat. I didn't know and I didn't want to say too much and get snookered but I didn't want to insult the lady either by saying something like $20.



"$75," I said. She looked at me then looked at the coat. She got it off the hanger and told me to try it on. After I slipped into it, she smiled.

"$75." Yay! I had made my first barter! I felt exhilarated. I left the store, proudly displaying the jacket.

Our next stop was a little store that mostly sold pottery, antiques and knifes. Yes, knifes. Knifes, daggers, swords, switchblades...all in glass cases. The people that ran the store had actually been asleep and the doors locked but the cab driver knew them and had them open the place up for us. Now we felt obligated to buy something. In a pretty dumb move, Pat & I let the guys decide what to buy. They chose switchblades.

Now, in case you're not familiar with border laws...there are certain things you can't transport over the border in the U.S. Switchblades are on that list. We didn't know they had bought them until we were back in the taxi. Pat & I railed at them for being so stupid for about the first 20 minutes then turned our attention to how they planned on getting it through customs. They were pretty thorough in their searches.

The lining of Jeff's leather coat was ripped so he slipped inside. Pat took her husband's purchase and slipped it inside her bra. Now I was terrified that since Jeff looked like a criminal they would search him good. To my surprise, they barely batted an eyelash at him, patted him down without finding the contraband and sent him on his way. Same with my mother-in-law. The second she stepped over the border into El Paso, she shrieked and pulled her chest inwards. Without an explanation, she ran to the bathroom.

The switchblade had opened up on her! Somehow, she managed to avoid being stabbed, therefore giving away the fact that she had smuggled an illegal weapon into the country. After all this, my father-in-law put his switchblade in a drawer at home and forgot about it. Same with Jeff's...I'm not sure they fully appreciated what Pat did.

I learned a valuable lesson, though. Keep sharp objects out of your bra!

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