El Otro Lado

Last weekend I took my first real vacation since joining the foreign service. My family has a summer home in the Adirondack Mountains about an hour and a half away from the Canadian border, so I went from one end of the country to the other. Despite a series of unfortunate events caused by Delta Airlines, I managed to have a lovely vacation. I hate to rant but after the abysmal experience I had with Delta if I can scare even one person off using that airline and save them the pain, then I’ve done my duty! After losing my bag and spending 3 days continually telling me that it would be delivered in a few hours, it finally turned up in Vermont. I flew in to JFK, I was flying out of JFK. If I’d been given the choice I’d have preferred to get it there. Instead they made me spend a day driving to BURLINGTON, VERMONT to get the bag, never mind the 9 times they told me they would

The Vermont Wildflower Farm billed as the "seediest place in Vermont"

deliver to me. To top it off the “lovely” customer service rep informed me I was basically out of luck and if I was truly blessed I would be reimbursed for the $30 worth of supplies I bought to shower and continually wash the 2 outfits I had with me. Never mind the money wasted on gas and the fact I spend 3/4 of my vacation waiting for a bag and trying to get in touch with Delta. The best part is if you try to call their complaint line you get “due to high call volume we can not take your call at this time.” I bet. Anyway that’s my story, I’ve sworn off Delta, proceed with caution when booking with them!

However, make lemonade right? So the impromptu trip to Vermont was not wasted. We visited a wild flower farm, a teddy bear factory, a vineyard and farm store for cheese. I found a pouch of wildflower seeds that are supposed to be specially selected to grow in the Southwest… we shall see if it can survive Juarez. To improve my mood I also acquired a cow-spotted bear for the bear factory. The drive to Burlington was a bit longer than it should have been because the bridge between Vermont and New York was washed out, which meant we had to take a car ferry! Which was pretty cool. It was funny being up at the other border, instead of Spanish everyone was speaking French and in place of a million Chihuahua plates there were a plethora of Quebec plates.

Inside the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor in Chestertown, it just oozes charm.

After reclaiming my luggage we trekked back to our cabin which is near a tiny town called Chester. Actually the Cabin itself is near a town called Horicon which is so tiny I don’t there are actually any businesses in it anymore and I don’t think it is even on the map. Comparatively Chester with its grocery store and 2 restaurants is the big city. My favorite place is a old fashioned soda fountain with a view of the mountains out the window.  It’s not a trip to the mountains without my yearly sundae! It was pretty much a low key weekend, spent visiting with family. My Aunt and Uncle have the cabin across from us, so it is a bit like the family ancestral stomping grounds. The cabin itself is over a 100 years old and until recently didn’t have such fabulous amenities like running water or at one point, a floor in the kitchen. Since it’s my home leave spot it’s nice to finally have a functional place. I’m sort of looking forward to home leave in about 2 years, it will be kind of fun to go from one border to the other. Oddly I’ve only been to Canada once. I think next summer I’m going to have to bring my passport and trek on up to Montreal, since it’s so close.

After all the hassle with Delta and the fact that it is a long trip up to upstate New York, I was glad to get back to Juarez. To

Sushi, Juarez style! Meaning deep-fried and featuring chipotle sauce, chili peppers, and bananas. It actually is really tasty.

celebrate a couple of friends and I went out to savor the delights of Juarez sushi. You know you are back in Mexico when you get jalapenos wrapped in your sushi and it’s topped with chipotle sauce!  We also seem to have made friends with the waiter at Sushi Express. When we walked in he asked us where the rest of our friends were. The music also seemed to change to “American friendly” meaning a lot of Lady Gaga once we arrived. Ah.. it’s good to be home. Back to work tomorrow!

1 Response to “El Otro Lado”

  • Gloria Anzuldua’s book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, contains a poem called “El Otro Lado.” It goes something like this:

    Al otro lado esta el rio
    y no lo puedo cruzar
    Al otro lado esta el puente
    y no lo puedo atravesar

    I like this simple poem. Then there is this one, from the same book. Maybe it applies to Juarez sushi:

    To live in the Borderlands means you are neither hispana india negra espanola ni gabacha,
    Eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed
    Caught in the crossfire between camps while carrying all five races on your back not knowing which side to turn to, run from;

    * * *

    Cuando vives en la frontera

    people walk through you, the wind steals your voice,
    you’re a burra, buey, scapegoat, forerunner of a new race, half and half-both woman and man, neither a new gender;

    To live in the Borderlands means to put chile in the borscht, eat whole wheat tortillas, speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent; be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;

    * * *

    To survive the Borderlands you must live sin fronteras
    be a crossroads.

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