It was summer of `79 and I was stationed at 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego. Being on shore duty was great. No watches, no duty sections, it was just like working a civilian job only we had to have our hair cut short at a time when it just wasn't worn that way by our generation. Me and my friend, Jim were both
assigned to the sheetmetal shop on base and everyone thought we were the most unlikely pair of buddies. He was so hot tempered and always getting into fights and
I was so easy going. But I was from Massachusetts and he was from Rhode Island, fellow New Englanders and all, so we hung out together.
One day we were riding gocarts down in San Ysidro and after awhile got bored with it so we decided to visit Tiajuana.
We were gullible young bucks, both still under 21, and we had heard all kinds of exaggerations about the liberality in Mexico, least of all not being that you could walk the streets drinking alcoholic beverages openly and no one cared. As it happened, I was into tequila at the time. it had been my hard liquor of choice since I was 18(That was still the legal drinking age in Mass. when I was that age), and Jim had told me about this mexican brand called "Los Hermanos". It had a blue horseshoe on the
label and it was said to be fermented from mezcal extract in it's most unadulterated form. He said it was actually hallucenogenic.
Well, there we were walking the main street of Tj passing a bottle of it back and forth and we were feeling good and wanted to be pals with everyone we ran into when one such individual happened to be this obviously shit faced drunk blind man with a banjo hanging from his neck. In spite of the fact that he had nothing but sewn shut sockets where his eyes had once been he was in a joyously good liquor induced
mood, blubbering things like "Vaya con Dios!" and "Bendece todos!". Well, we figured what harm could a little more do? And we placed the bottle in his hand, helped him guide it to his mouth, he took a long pull, thanked us, and was on his way.
About 5 minutes later we were stopped by a motorcycle cop, who confiscated the bottle and detained us until a cruiser arrived. We were frisked and taken to the
station. Now not long before, the movie "Midnight express" about an american student arrested and imprisoned in a foreign country had been out and that's all I could think about as we stood in front of the desk of this guy with a sign on it that read "COMMANDANTE" with the two grim faced cops who had brought us in standing there in their grey uniforms right in back of us as we waited for an interpreter. It was when they brought in the interpreter that we first found out what we were really arrested for. Some people saw us putting the bottle into the blind man's hand and guiding it to his mouth for him and reported we were forcing him to drink. Fortunately for us this interpreter was a decent person with some authority and after hearing our explanation and taking pity when Jim started crying,he reasoned with us that "There are some people you should just know
better than to give liquor to". Then they let us go, but they didn't bring us back to
where they arrested us and the streets of Tiajuana are like a maze!
We walked in the direction we thought the border was in and soon it was dark. We were walking along a highway and to our right was a fence at least 25 feet tall that stretched on ahead as far as the eye could see. I kept trying to tell Jim that it was
obviously the border but he was being stubborn and kept insisting we were headed for the border. Finally I managed to convince him and the next large hole we saw
in the fence we jumped through.
There we were walking through this prairie land in the pitch black of night and Jim was quite paranoid. He kept saying "Someone is following us back there, I know
someone is following us!" Then all of a sudden, young hothead that he was, he turned around and shouted "Come on you motherfuckers!! I'm ready for you!!" I managed
to calm him down and after awhile we saw lights coming toward us. It was a truck of some kind and the driver got out, shined a flashlight at us and told us to get
down. As soon as I heard english I shouted "U.S. Navy!" He had us slowly hand him our IDs and as he checked them out I explained what had happened. "OK, you can get up now", he said. "You're in The States now, but what you guys just did was plain crazy. This area you just passed through is called The Badlands. The illegal aliens we run down out here are the worst scum Mexico has to offer. There are people out there who would cut your throats for a dollar and probably do worse
if you have nothing."
Lost in The Badlands of Mexico after dark? A lesson had been learned. Drink not with Mexican blind men. Well, at least not in Mexico.