Archives for posts with tag: El Paso Texas

Austin is as beautiful as El Paso is not.

The people in downtown Austin look like they just walked out of the East Village.

The last time I was here Joe and I stayed at The Driskill Hotel. This time around I am spending the day writing before I move on.

I would like to have stayed a little longer but fate well and truly intervened.

I am exhausted.

Yesterday, after I was released by the ICE guys with my passport re stamped I spent an hour by myself. It was blissful.

The Dane and his ex picked me up from the small Sierra Blanca cafe at the edge of Interstate 10 where I had eaten unexpectedly delicious Huevos Rancheros with the cops.

Reunited with my fellow travelers, back in our luxurious transportation. The Dane, Lucie and I headed back to El Paso where we parked ourselves in a coffee shop…like I am doing now…and The Dane anxiously attempted to help Thomas by calling his friends, family and officials.

As we drove into El Paso I noticed something strange and scary.

All the palm trees were dead.

Trees that formerly decorated the forecourts of the huge car dealers on Montana are now just sad, brown stumps.

The same is true of commercial and domestic palms. Palms of all varieties…dead. Their bark ruptured, waiting for the woodsman to take them down.

What killed the palm trees?

Global warming? Climate change? El Paso just had the worst winter…ever. It killed palms, mesquite and cactus.  If I had doubted climate change before…this was indeed the smoking gun.

I am persuaded.  Climate change exists.

We would spend all day and most of the evening in El Paso at either the coffee shop or at the alien detention center where, at 7pm, we were allowed to see Thomas.

He looked miserable and cried a bit but anyone who has been to boarding school can attest this is just first day nerves.

Unlike boarding school they wouldn’t let us sit in the same room as the ‘detainee’ so we spoke on telephones peering at Thomas through bullet proof glass.

He held his hand up to the window like Billy Hayes in Midnight Express but unlike the film Lucie didn’t rub her tits over the glass and Thomas did not jerk off looking at them.

Nor did we hand him a book stuffed with dollars.

For me it was a total waste of time.

This idiotic boy had deliberately over stayed his visa, not renewed his passport and had the attitude of any entitled prick who thinks he should be allowed to stay anywhere he pleases.

I was even more pissed at The Dane for getting me involved with his half-baked friend. His ex Lucie was really sweet and had a great attitude. I have no complaints about her.

I just knew the moment I met Thomas that he was going to cause trouble.

An immature, exhibitionist thirty-one year old man who cater/waiters for a career is not someone I necessarily want to know. No, I am not being a snob. I am just angry. You will be pleased to hear that I did not lose my temper and remained remarkably calm.

Whilst they were fruitlessly contacting embassies I wandered around El Paso in the searing 110 degree heat checking out Kinsineta couture…see above.

I bumped into Nicholas, the manager of the El Paso hipster coffee shop who offered to not only help us out by visiting Thomas in detention but also offered to show me around. I leapt at the chance. If only to hang out with a relatively normal human being.

As they were moping over poor incarcerated Thomas, Nicholas took me to the very authentic Chico’s Tacos which was amazingly tasty and cheap.

We were both well fed for less that $5. Check the wiki link above. He then drove me to a mountain that over looks not only the city of El Paso but into the violent border town of Juarez, Mexico where there are (apparently) several drug related cartel murders every day.

“It is a miracle when there are no murders in Juarez.” Nicholas said sadly. “I love my country but we are not very good to each other.”

He told me about gunmen bursting into schools and shooting students. Weddings and funerals where the same happens. Endless, brutal Cartel related murders. He told me that the children of the Cartel roam El Paso boasting who their parents are and scaring the locals.

From the mountain we could very clearly see the controversial border fence that separates the USA from Mexico.

“Everybody in this town is involved with smuggling.” He said, looking over the vast, hot landscape. “People and drugs.”

I dropped Nicholas at his car then returned to The Dane and Lucie who had now finished with Thomas.

Inspired, I took them to Chico’s which they loved. I fed the dog and for the next four hours I drove through the night toward Austin from El Paso.

Lucie took the helm at 1am and I slept fitfully in the back of the SUV.

When I woke at 7am we were in Fredericksburg. A charming Teutonic historical town, tastefully planned and well manicured. We sat in the German Bakery and ate buns and drank hot, dark coffee. It was such a fucking relief to be out of El Paso and experiencing a different, altogether more understandable world.

Frankly I couldn’t wait to leave The Dane. It was not his fault per se but he and his friend took a risk with our vacation/trip to NYC that is not easily forgiven.

Thomas will go home to Sweden where he will hopefully grow the fuck up.  Even in the detention center he was imagining that he could marry his girl friend at the facility and they would let him go back to his studio life in Brooklyn.

Yeah right!

I am in Sierra Blanca, a two-horse strip of nothing near El Paso Texas.  I should be in Marfa looking at art but life has a remarkable way of getting in the way of ones intentions.

Yesterday started off badly and ended up even worse.

We woke up in the New Inn Willcox.  The four of us.  Grumpy and tired.

We set off for Marfa, ended up in Las Cruces by the Rio Grande.

This tiny, charming place made famous by the forests of pecans and pistachios planted around the town.  There was a small street market where we baked in the midday sun.

I found a dedicated AA meeting-house.

Bagel was worried by our travelling through these southern border towns because his Swedish passport was well out of date.   We scoffed.  We weren’t going anywhere near the border.  Yet, the proximity still scared him.

After lunch everyone was in great spirits, the road was clear, we were making good time.   Lively, intelligent conversation.  That was until we were funneled into a homeland security border control and everything went to shit.

Big time.

We were routinely stopped and asked if we were US citizens.

None of us are.

Of course within minutes they discovered that Thomas’s (Bagel) passport was out of date and he had over stayed his welcome in the USA.

Then, to my horror they told me that my passport had problems and I too was detained.

Detained.  For the next twenty hours I underwent a harrowing scrutiny.

I must say however that all of the border control agents, the ICE patrol guys and every single official I came into contact with was courteous, kind and helpful.

Quite unlike any British police officer..except the detective I met last summer with the sociopath.

These men and women have a tough, demanding job but, from what I saw, within that tiny little office at the edge of Interstate 10 there is a good family atmosphere.  They seem to mainly deal with cannabis infractions.  The sniffer dogs leaping on anyone with weed in their car.

Each dog is an official agent and has it’s own badge.

Just as I was leaving they brought in ten young goth men and women.  Their tattoos and piercings at odds with the uniformed officers.

Again, I only saw the agents be utterly polite, once going out of their way to fetch an elder lady a wheel chair.

My situation was more complicated than Thomas’s as he had simply over stayed.  So, after many, many phone calls I was released with my passport re-stamped correctly.

Thomas was not so lucky and is now languishing in an alien holding camp with a thousand other illegal aliens.

Of course all I worried about was the Little Dog who had to sit in a huge cage whilst they were processing me.  He looks a little traumatized this morning.  If I had been traveling on my own they would have called the pound.

It does not bear thinking about.

So, here we are.  In El Paso at a cool coffee-house near the convention center hooked up to the internet waiting for 6 o’clock to roll around so we can visit Thomas.   The Dane is obviously worried about his friend so we are obliged to curtail our trip.

This means that I will be in New York for the premiere of Transformers 3 and other choice events.

I have a great deal to achieve this coming week.  I have hospital appointments, friends arriving from London and LA for my birthday party.

I am just thankful that the border immigration folk expedited my passport problem.