I realized that I have discussed many of my international traveling exploits, but I’ve never talked about the first time I ever left the United States. Like many who grow up in a border town, my first trip outside the country was just a stone’s throw away, in my case, to Tijuana, Mexico. Unlike many who grow up next to a country whose drinking age is 18, my first trip across the border was after I turned 21 AND with my parents.
How ironic that one of the few places the public transportation in my city will reliably take its citizens is out of the country.
With the land cheap alcohol only a trolley ride away, it makes it tempting to head south and bring the libations back home. The problem is US Customs will only allow 2 bottles per person to come back across the border.
I don’t remember the reason behind the trip, if it was for a party or simply restocking, but my parents were so happy when my friends and I finally turned 21. We then became willing, completely legal mules.
In return for simply carrying two bottles of alcohol across the border at the end of the trip (and immediately handing them back over!), we received transportation and a great meal. We were young, hungry college students, and this was international travel we didn’t have to pay for! We were in.
All I really remember about the trip was feeling uncomfortable with how pushy the merchants were when trying to sell their wares and the REALLY good food (although I was afraid of food poisoning). At that point in my life, if someone had told me that one day I would frequently be traveling throughout countries where I didn’t speak the language all by myself no less, I would have called them a liar. I’m so glad I outgrew the fear and embraced life.
As I was writing this post, I consulted with my fellow former mule, and he pointed out that my mom then was our age now. Wow! What different lives she and I have led!
Unfortunately, there was only one border run. If I remember correctly, Tom did the math and realized that after adding in transportation costs and the amount of food young adults can consume, there really wasn’t much (if any) cost savings. At least I made out with a fun memory.
What was your first international experience? or How different a life are you leading compared to your parents?