My Jai Alai

August 10. The top of the Southwest was reached in Dateland, AZ, home of the Cougars. Sure, the cougars at hand are not of the kind one would date – and the dates in question are rather of the kind that grows on trees.

The car’s thermometer showed some insane 108°F while we stopped for gas, and that would be the last time we’d ever reach temperatures of this sort. After that, it would be California, big cities, the ocean and lots of Mexican food.

The second time we drove by the Mexican border on Interstate 8, the border patrol must have been particularly intrigued, so to speak, by the shadow of Vinnie in the back seat. It being night surely didn’t help. Amused, the officer kept repeating that it was an immigration checkpoint, and I kept saying I knew – until after a couple of more dumb questions he let us go. He probably thought our answers were even dumber.

When I say “Mexican food” I’m not talking about the food we stuffed our faces with the moment we hit San Diego’s Old Town. The real star was the parrillada we had the next day at Los Remedios (formerly known as La Cantina de los Remedios), in the radiant city of Tijuana, Baja California, México.

I had been there before, in 2002, accompanied by a friend who knew her way around town, and now it was just a five-dollar cab ride from the border. Guacamole and nopales aside, I confess I loathe Tijuana. Being subject to the constant attention of anyone makes me feel deeply uneasy. It’s not her, it’s me – as they say. And the very least is the creepy self-proclaimed taxi driver who, a few blocks from the Jai Alai, offered to take us to very young girls who’d entertain us. (I’m only paraphrasing here.)

I wonder how he knew we were Italians – why else would he have mentioned the very young girls?