Wednesday 21st Oct – El Paso to San Antonio – 574 miles

The longest drive in a day lay before me, El Paso to San Antonio. A 574 mile journey along-side the Mexican border, taking the interstate 10 before moving on to route 90 all the way to San Antonio.

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I was rewarded for my 6am start with a swift exit from the city out on to the open road and glorious daybreak. The sun crept up behind some distant mountains, the road was empty and the speed limit set at 80mph. I’m afraid the pictures don’t really convey the size and space of nearly all my views today, but I tried.

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The GMC and I are targeting breakfast in Marfa, 190 miles away before 9am. However along the way I changed time zone and lost an hour, my early start ruined by a move from mountain time to central time. Imagine living right next to a time zone border, it must be incredibly frustrating.

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Then still on the interstate I was pulled into a border patrol checkpoint. Border patrol vehicles and buildings were a common sight. The US spends a lot on keeping Mexicans out, I would make an unusual looking central American so didn’t think it would hinder my progress. I was wrong.

All vehicles on the interstate 10 were required to pull over and be checked. I think all you had to say in response to the initial question would have been yes, but that would have been a lie.

Border patrol man: “American citizen?”
Me: “no”
BP: “so you’Re a foreigner?”
Me: “yes, a British citizen”
BP: ” really, got anything to prove that?”
Me: “passport ok?”
“Yes” he had a quick look and said “well this doesn’t tell me anything”

I’m not sure what he wanted the passport to tell him, a nursery rhyme perhaps. So he proceeded to question me.

Are you alone? Yes. What are you doing? Driving to San Antonio. Why are you here? Vacation. What is your job? Recruiter. What do you recruit? People for life Science companies. You need to be more specific! Mainly R&D people for Pharma companies. Really? Yes. Are you alone? Yes. Why are you here? Vacation.
You know this passport doesn’t tell me anything. What visa do you have? I don’t, British passport holders don’t need a visa. I have the electronic approval. Show me it. It’s electronic I don’t have it printed out. Right you need to go and park your car while I check out your story.

So I parked waited 10 min, thought I take the chance to have a stretch. Mistake. Remain in your vehicle, was screamed and much arm flapping ensued, until I stopped being a ‘threat’ and got back in the car. Ten minutes later another chap turned up and said “next time print out your electronic approval, now on your way.”

That was my first lovely experience with the border patrol. Shortly after that I turned on to route 90 and things got really quiet. Just nothing there at all, mile after mile of nothing. However one building popped about 25 miles before Marfa it was a Prada store literally in the middle of nowhere. I googled it later as I was a little confused and found the reason: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prada_marfa

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Marfa is was a lovely little town. Famous for art and being in the arsehole of nowhere. I found a cafe and enjoyed the bucolic atmosphere in their garden with a few coffees and some breakfast, but with the lost hour and border patrol stop it was soon time to hit the road for the remaining 390 miles.

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I decided to aim for the town of Del Rio for lunch, the road to Del Rio was empty. I would like to thank the podcast the Bugle for keeping me alive and sane. Endless scrubby desert and dead straight roads.Couldnt help think this would be a great place to depose of a corpse if you had one in the boot.

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After stopping for a late Mexican lunch in Del Rio, the landscape started to change with trees appearing, then farms reappeared and everything got greener as I approached San Antonio. No crazy hailstorms today but did confuse the parking attendant by driving down the left hand side, which was met with a very confused look.

The hotel was good and within a short walk of the Alamo and the River Walk area. Went to a cool bar called howl at the moon which had some very talented musicians on dueling pianos. I was very happy to have a short drive the next day up to Austin. Also the Spanish for do not disturb amused me.

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