June 3-4, 2021
We got up determined to use our Six Flags membership. The weather was cloudy and forecasted to rain in the afternoon but we figured since we had passes if we could get a couple of rides in and lunch we would be ahead. When we got to the parking lot there were intermittent sprinkles that held off just long enough for us to get into the park before it started really raining. We managed to get two kiddie rides in before we gave up and headed towards a restaurant for lunch. We felt a little bad for the people who had paid $30 per person for a one day ticket and another $20 for parking running around determined to enjoy the park despite the rain. We ate our lunch and left the park just after 12 glad that we did not have to pay anything extra for our aborted visit.
Leaving San Antonio it was a long, boring 8 hour drive to get to El Paso. This is the infamous 550 miles of nothing. The road was fine but other than a few gas stations and some very small towns there is really nothing of interest on the I-10 between the two cities. It was quite late at night before we arrived at a Walmart on the outskirts of El Paso.
The next day Holly wanted to get a mani/pedi so we did that before going to Gallegos Mexican Buffet for lunch. Holly had really enjoyed it the first time we went through El Paso and wanted to try it again now that we had spent over a year in Mexico to see if that would change her opinion. From the lens of having lived in Mexico we found the food at Gallegos to be quite authentic and we had flashbacks to Mexico since all the staff spoke to us in Spanish which we were now much better able to respond to. We still liked it.
After lunch we decided to take care of a final little chore from our Mexico visit. When we left Mexico we had not cancelled our visas so Mexican immigration had no idea that we had left. While likely not a big deal, there is a small potential from problems if we return to Mexico and they thought we had overstayed our six month visas. Since El Paso is right on the border we could easily just walk back into Mexico and cancel our visas and officially leave Mexico.
We drove to the border and parked Rover on the street before walking a few blocks to the bridge to Mexico. There were few people there an after paying fifty cent bridge toll we left the US, no customs or immigration. We took the short walk to Mexico and went to the Mexican immigration office there where they cancelled our Mexican visas. Then we walked a couple of blocks to the bridge back to the US, stopping along the way to buy a couple of bags of Pake Taxo snacks. Pake Taxo is a mix of Cheetos, Cheetos Puffs, Doritos 3D and Crujitos and absolutely delicious, full of umami flavor and not sold in the US. If you are ever in Mexico you gotta try some. It was funny being back in Mexico, somehow it felt strange and unfamiliar even though we had just spent a year there and just been back in the US for a short time. In reality, it was no different than any other Mexican town and we were much more familiar with Mexico now.
The bridge back to the US had a thirty-cent toll and no sign of Mexican immigration. We did not see any of the reputed hordes of immigrants waiting to enter America. The bridge back to the US was a little different than the bridge to Mexico with some extra fencing and a couple of US Immigration agents standing mid-span on the American side. The agents weren’t checking anyone and were even nice enough to take our pictures. On the American side of the bridge there were a few dozen people in an orderly line waiting to get to into the US immigration station. Since we had Global Entry though we were able to bypass the line and go straight to the US immigration desk where they swiped our cards and sent us on our way with no fuss. A few minutes later we were back at Rover and on our way out of El Paso.
As we drove we considered how lucky we were. Some people walk literarily thousands of miles with their kids and then wait months or years to get the chance to enter the US. Others go deep into debt to pay traffickers thousands of dollars to try to sneak them into the US only to be immediately caught and sent back to their countries of origin. Some die on the way to the US, others die trying to cross the desert to enter illegally. We were able to just swipe a card and prance into the US for free, not even having to wait in line like most other American citizens. We are truly privileged.
We drove a couple of hours and got to White Sands National Park a couple of hours before sunset. We purchased a National Parks pass for $80 on the way in and had a little photoshoot again. Holly had really liked the pictures we had taken last time we were at White Sand and wanted to get some more pictures. All too soon though it got dark and we went to the Walmart in Alamogordo for the night.