Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Exotic (08/08/13)
TITLE: Amazing Anomalies
By Janice Kelley
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The crisp, dark night fades quickly as the blazing sun edges closer to the horizon. The fireball gently peaks into the morning sky and then ascends in all its glory to dawn a new and beautiful morning in southwest Texas. As I edge my car onto the highway I wonder what new and exciting adventures lie just up the road?
At first glance the land looks stark, naked, dry and lonely. There are no tall, stately oak trees reaching their branches to the sky. No plains of tall corn waving a welcoming to the new day. Here and there a patch of green brightens the landscape with only a hint of spring to come. Then, as I crest a hill, a wonder of this desolate land stands majestically before me. Scores of yucca plants with their huge, beautiful, two-foot-tall blooms cover the landscape, each flower crowning a sturdy plant, each bobbing their morning greeting.
Traveling north the highway stretches leisurely past pecan groves, branches naked, lazily resting before the beginning of their spring work, and over streams and canals protecting the life-giving water within their walls. Soon there are high fences on either side of the road, fences stretching for miles enclosing thousands of acres of land where cattle graze and antelope roam. My heart flutters at the sight of a herd of kudus and bongos, native to Africa but at home in the heart of Texas. Deer are quietly eating breakfast. I pass ranch gates creatively fashioned out of stone, wood and curly metal. Other gates are utilitarian and plain. Each gate safely guards land and ranch house and buildings where sturdy people live, work, rest and play.
The road leads to a Texas town, steeped in western lore of long ago, bustling now with 21st Century activity. An Air Force base makes its home here, medical facilities dot the landscape providing life-giving help to folks in the town and those for miles around, and the town serves as a winter oasis for Yankees looking for warm weather. At a busy intersection I turn the car left, traveling with others to the land south of the Border. We all come to a standstill as the international bridge looms before us. I wait my turn, pay the toll and slip easily into the long line of vehicles crossing the bridge. There is activity everywhere: lines of cars face me waiting to pass through customs, Border Patrol, Customs Agents, people walking to Mexico, people walking from Mexico, police vehicles standing ready, search dogs obeying their masters’ commands. As my wheels touch the bridge, “no man’s land” stretches underneath me, then the majestic Rio Grande, and finally, just ahead, the “stop” and “go” lights of Mexican customs. The light shines green and a military figure waves me through.
Before me lies the colorful, touristy business district. Shops and taverns are prevalent. I have been here many times before when the street was alive with cars, pedestrians, shoppers. Shop owners stood in front of their stores welcoming customers and hawking their wares. Vivid reds, blues, greens and yellows of every tint greeted shoppers in blankets, serapes, pottery, paintings, hats, each beckoning to be bought. Today the street is nearly empty of cars, shop windows are dark, doors locked, restaurants closed. A nearly ghost-town lies before me the aftermath of drug violence and fear. My heart goes out to honest merchants who are paying the price for those who are dishonest.
Traveling north on the Mexican river road I approach the Amistad Dam. The structure is massive and long and just beyond lies the huge and beautiful Amistad Lake where bass fishing is world famous. At the middle of the dam stands two large monuments proclaiming the south side belonging to the United States of Mexico and the north side the United States of America. Built in the 1960’s, the dam is the joint effort of both countries and appropriately named “Amistad,” Spanish for “Friendship.” Here I produce my Passport Card, declare any Mexican purchases, and claim my United States citizenship to the U. S. Custom Agents on duty. The agents are attentive and alert as they faithfully protect the interests of our country. Satisfied that I am no threat, they wave me on. A few thousand feet further the wheels of my car roll off the dam and onto solid United States soil.
After a glorious day of wandering through God’s great creation and man’s ingenuity, I am home.
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