South of the Border: Day
Road trips are good metaphors for how I view life in general—it's less about the big picture and more about the little moments along the way—but finally making it to South of the Border was the highlight in a year filled with novelty architecture, muffler men and silly roadside attractions. I talked a little about how the trip came together in this post, but I'm still pleased that after talking about it and saying "I need to get there!" for so long, that I finally made it happen.
It turns out that all of the little things I thought were standing in my way—money, time, someone to come with me—weren't so hard to work out once I decided to really make a plan. I get asked sometimes how I do "so much," which is relative of course —and probably skewed by my online presence, trust me there are days when I do absolutely nothing—but I get derailed by my own silly misconceptions and anxieties just like anyone. I had been planning an epic South of the Border road trip for years, but once I decided that I had to get there in 2017, everything fell into place.
It might seem ridiculous to consider seeing South of the Border as my greatest accomplishment of 2017—a year in which I also hiked the Inca Trail, deliriously sick for half of it, nonetheless. But it's less about the destination and more about having the conviction, about having a plan and following through, about recognizing what is right for your own specific life, about finding things that make you happy and about really doing them, about taking control and not being sidetracked by outside input.
There was a large portion of my life where I didn't feel in control of much. I wasn't happy with where I lived and much of my day-to-day life revolved around others peoples' schedules and feelings. It's an easy trap to fall into—gradually, and then all at once—but it can seem impossible to take the reigns again once you feel you've lost them. Of course life is full of moments and circumstances that are out of our control, but having a firm idea of what you want out of the controllable variables can make those unavoidable bumps much less scary.
We stayed overnight in the motel and our room was clean and much bigger than I expected. In the morning, it was foggy and deserted which gave the entire place a sort of post-apocalyptic feel (that I loved). We had breakfast in the Sombrero Room (again, not to be confused with the steakhouse housed in an actual sombrero-shaped building) and wandered around trying to soak in all of its brightly-colored kitsch. South of the Border has definitely seen better days (to be fair, we were also there in October) but everything looked freshly painted and well-loved.
We were just about to leave when my mom suggested that we wait a few minutes until 10 am, when the (also sombrero-shaped) observation tower opened. I was concerned about our time frame for the day, and cautious about running out of daylight but in the end she was totally right. We'd driven too far to leave without seeing everything that South of the Border had to offer. Also, admission was only $2/person and we ended up having the observation deck all to ourselves, so always listen to your mom!
South of the Border might be a silly, outdated, culturally insensitive roadside attraction—useful to most people only for the bathrooms—but it will always mean more to me than anyone could know. This trip marked a sneaky turning point in my life—it wasn't the first road trip I planned, and it won't be the last, but it was the one that made me realize that my life truly is mine.