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2003-12-23 - 7:59 p.m.

I just got back from the beach. I wish you could've seen this place. It is not beautiful, probably not even pretty. Nonetheless it is just about perfect. It is like the beach version of somebody's backyard in South Austin. Scraggly, weedy, bare in some places, overgrown in others, but it's got shade in the right spots, there's beer and a grill, christmas lights and music, kids and dogs, with the bonus of sand and clear, green water. All the stuff you'd want around if you were going to just sit around doing nothing for a couple of days. It was great, it was dreamy, I slept on a hammock under a palapa on a hill. At night, the waves sounded like someone pulling the covers over me over and over and over again.

But it didn't start out so great.

The original plan was to chill. But the best laid plans ... blah blah blah. And this plan wasn't all that well laid anyhow.

I left my visa on the bus. I left my visa in my glasses case in a bag full of what looked like trash on the bus. I have left things on the bus before. It is a particular problem on overnight bus trips like this one. You're tired, a little dizzy, 10 or 13 hours later, you just want to get the fuck off the bus. I left my jacket on the bus between Laredo and Zacatecas. No big deal. I left my prescription sunglasses on the bus between Mexico City and Vera Cruz. Bigger deal but it wouldna killed me if they hadn't been recovered. Which they were, in fact, four hours later.

The lost visa sent me into a panic. I still have no idea what would have happened to me if I was caught in Mexico without a visa. But the visions! Thousand dollar fines, deportation, prison, revenge wrought on me by some poor soul whose cousin had been tormented by La Migra on our side of the border.

I couldn't bring myself to tell the ticket agent what I had done so I just said 'I left a bag on the bus. It has something important in it. It looks like trash.' He called the next bus station down the road, yes the bus had arrived, yes they would look for the bag. A few minutes later he informed that someone had found the bag and thrown it away. He said 'It looked like trash.'

Yes, in fact, it was partly trash. The leftovers of snacks I had brought with me. (There are no trash cans on Mexican buses so you can either leave your crap on the floor or you can keep it with you until it is time to go.) But it wasn't all trash. It was my visa!! But I couldn't tell him that ... I am a stupid gringa who left her VISA on the bus. Instead, I was effectively telling him, I am a crazy gringa who wants you to retrieve a bag of TRASH for me.

He said it would be brought to this station in a 'ratito.' This is Spanish for 'a little while' which could mean anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours.

About a half hour later, I came back. 'Is it here?' No, not yet. He explained to me 'It didn't look like there was anything important in it. She threw it out. It looked like trash.'

'Yes but there is something important in it. There's an estufa.'

'An estufa!?!'

'I mean estucha.'

(estucha = glasses case

estufa = stove)

'OK, come back at 11:30. It will probably be here by then.'

Checked into the hammock, showered, was visited by new visions of terror. * The ticket agent would become convinced that there were drugs in the bag and I'd be surrounded by federales when I went to retrieve it. * The glasses case would not be in the bag and I'd have to turn myself into the authorities. They would torture me for being stupid and crazy. * I would not turn myself into the authorities and if asked to show my visa, I would just play really really dumb and hope the immigration officer liked my blond(ish) hair.

When I finally got back to the station at noon, the counter was really busy. The periphal vision of the ticket agent must be a scientific miracle. Without turning away from his computer screen, without once looking me in the eye, he reached under the counter and, pinched between the very tippy tip of his index finger and thumb, he held up my beloved bag of trash. Intact.

I immediately ran out and made five copies of the visa, just in case I lost it again. Crikeys.


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