May 19, 1999
Chihuahua, Mexico / Texas, USA
5:31am. On the road again, sitn next to Abigail, a fifteen year old chick from "OJ." -- Ojinaga, Mexico. Abigail and her sister, Jessica, 13, and their friend Janet, 18, are on their way home from a day-long shopping spree in Chihuahua.
"Clothes are cheaper here," Abigail says.
"Give me an example," I inquired.
"In Texas, Tommy jeans are $150. I got similar jeans with the Tommy label in Chihuahua for $9."
Abigail quit school a year ago because she claims she was in too many fights and has since been picking tomatoes in Texas for $500 per week-or so she tells me. Im a good judge of character, and I didnt feel she was lying, but $500 a week seems a bit much with the gross availability of cheap Mexican labor. Abigail is an American citizen, born in New Mexico, but rents a house with Janet and Jessica in Ojinaga for $200 per month. Each morning at 6 am a van picks her up and takes her across the border to go to work. Her sister works at a drive-through. Both have fake identification bolstering their ages to the necessary requirement -- nineteen for Abigail.
12:13 pm. Im several miles outside of Presidio, Texas, sitting on the shoulder of the highway in front of Ft. Leaton, waiting for a ride to Big Bend, fifty miles south east. I walked a half mile from the bus station to the border, crossed the Rio Grande, then a couple of miles through Presidio with my thumb out. On the edge of town, a man picked me up in a cluttered car and dropped me here. The pavement burnt my buns. Ive been sitting on this stone for almost an hour. My ass hurts. My fleece jacket is draped over my backpack and camera so the film and diskettes dont melt.
Each minute couple of vehicles pass. I dont have much hope for catching a ride in a car, although I stand up and stick my thumb out anyway. I dont think women will pick me up either. That narrows it down to men in trucks -- half the passing vehicles.
An RV just turned in to the parking area behind me.
The lady in the RV said they normally dont pick up hitch-hikers, but felt I had "good vibes" and could be an exception. They invited me to join them for lunch. What a sweet ride - chilln with air conditioning in a plush recliner, reading Whitmans Turning Leaves. The tar and pebble ribbon we traveled was rated by National Geographic as one of the top ten scenic drives in the U.S.