Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Logbook: Southern Border

Southernborder2On Sunday morning I boarded the Amtrak Crescent and had a pleasant 12-hour trip to New Orleans. Arriving at about 7pm, I walked about four blocks to a modestly shabby Holiday Inn and parked myself for the night. I took a few minutes in the morning to walk around the city to see what it was like “in the wake of Katrina.” I have to confess that I’ve never really liked New Orleans and it has always struck me as a run down kind of town. It seems pretty much the same as it has the other half-dozen times I’ve been there, so I can’t really say I saw any Katrina effects. Again, I didn’t look around very much -- and didn’t really want to -- so I’ll just leave it at that. By noon Monday I was on the Amtrak Sunset Limited bound for San Antonio. After another satisfactory 17-hour train ride -- which included about seven hours of sleep -- I arrived in plenty of time to transfer to the bus station, check my bags, get some breakfast and go through security.

No, that’s not a typo. We went through a pretty rigorous security check before getting on the bus to Laredo. I have no idea what it was all about, and can only imagine the possibilities of -- what? -- hijacking a bus? The best part of the experience was finding out that snickering at mindless “authority” is a universal language. As one of only two “whites” to board the bus, I found myself making pleasant eye contact and exchanging contemptuous expressions with many of the Hispanic passengers. We all had a good laugh and I trust we were laughing at the same thing. A 3-hour non-stop bus ride later and I emerged from the depot in “downtown” Laredo where, I must confess, I gave myself a break by taking a cab about a mile out of town to a passable Day’s Inn that I saw on the way in. After 2+ days of more or less continuous travel, I’m going to take the rest of the day to get my land legs back, update this website and take it easy. Tomorrow I will explore Laredo, check out my border crossing options and develop a plan for leaving the USA on the first foreign leg of The Voyage of Macgellan!

No comments: