Laura, Gen and I lurched forth to Jacumba in the middle of a San Diego
morning, untangling the confusing mesh of highway intersections until we struck the true course on I-8 east. Soon the lush humidity of the coast
thinned and then collapsed against the onslaught of altutude
. The air dried and began to sparkle. The coastal clouds, stopped by the geological border patrol broke into clumps and dissipated
leaving cool bright light shining on desert rocks. Foot to pedal through fast air the 70 mile journey squinted past us in a flash.
We exited to tiny paved roads and wended through the archetypal ruins of the desert. Parched lean-to
s and abandoned piles of rust that may have been automobiles once
dot the landscape like native flora. Shortly thereafter we pulled into a nondescript parking lot in front of a building that looked like a bleached-out 40's convienience store. But behind the dark green cluster of juniper
trees is the small entrance to the spa and hot springs
. Though it may have been the celebrity destination of choice in the 1920s and 40s, it has aged
. That and the fire that took it's toll back in the 80's make it hard to imagine Clark Gable
kicking back here with a martini
in his hand.
But all of that was forgotten when we stepped into the pool, which is continuously filled and heated by the sulphur springs. Enveloped in the warm pungent
water we floated easily as our silver jewelry quickly blackened from the sulphur
. The water felt like water, but different, everything is slippery and more bouyant
. It was quiet, everyone calm. At $8 a day it is the bargain of the century.
After a soak in the jacuzzi
we showered and began our walk. The air resolved itself into a chill as we strolled down the dusty dirt road leading to the Mexican border
. Because Jacumba is on a flood plain, the border fence, normally 8 feet of rusty corrugated metal, is reduced to an abbreviated form; a small rusty plate upon spindly legs. It is trivial to pass the border
here, so on a nearby rise sits a shed and a few white Border Patrol trucks. It wasn't hard to imagine their binoculars trained on us as we walked along the dusky fence
There were several apparently empty cars parked on either side of the border. This is the place to meet and talk to friends on the other side.
We continued on, watching the mountains first fall into relief, and then into darkness. We breathed the huge clean desert air and picked fronds from the sage bushes. Dodging tumbleweeds
we came upon a large cement cyllinder perhaps 20 feet high. Discerning no other purpose for it, we decided that it was a Border Phallus
. I wondered if there were others like it on the Moon and Europa
A flat gray spray-painted '81 toyota
dove up on the mexican side, deposited a young man, did about 10 doughnuts, and sped off in a cloud of dust.
Back in the motel room we smoked year-old pot and read the Atlantic Monthly in our underwear. The next days adventures in Julian
with the wasabi
mustard will have to be related elsewhere.