On Sunday at 7:00 a.m., we started on our trip to the South, in order to cover a distance of approximately 250 km, which is about 155 miles, and to visit a little bit of the tiny northern portion of Mexico.Dana accompanied us as well. I knew her because I had met hersome time ago at the Sokol organization. She was a widow of Croatian origin, and her husband was Czech. Thus, there were various subjects we could chatter about together. Emily passed her time also singing Englishsongs, such as the one called âśDarlingâť, and thereupon a Czech song âśThat Czech Song of Oursâť. From our car windows, we were able to observe at the beginning of our traveling of about 100 km (i.e. approximately 60 miles) first the cotton and also corn fields. The latter ones were mostly overly dry. As of Kingsville, we saw mainly grass, and here and there some trees. After that, we could see on the ground some maquis [a zone of shrubby plants, chiefly evergreens] or other shrubs and cacti. All those lands were thoroughly heated by extremely hot sunny air. We were told that this was the area which was often used by Mexicans to escape from Mexico to the USA. In so doing, they were avoiding official border crossing check points of the U.S. customs or police officers. Because of the very difficult terrain and absence of any water or other vegetation, they frequently died during such ventures. In addition, they did not carry with them enough food or fluids to be able to survive. Consequently, many of their corpses were often found in those areas.In reality, there was now a large plain area on all sides, and no towns or even individual houses could be seen. I was told that more than several thousand years ago, this territory had been completely covered by a sea. In the course of our trip when we covered a distance of about 155 miles (= about 250 km) by car, we actually crossed only one small river. Indeed, I was very disappointed to learn that it was the famous Rio Grande. Its size at that point was comparable to a little brook.
After a while, we arrived at the town of Nuevo Progresso, situated close to the border of Mexico. This was the destination of our trip. As it commonly happens on both sides of any border line, there were many stalls where you could buy souvenirs. Also, you could find there shops with various trinkets. Their value could amount to one or two dollars, but you could find some articles of higher value at the level of several hundred dollars. Those were products of clay, ceramics, hand-woven clothes, leather goods, or sombreros, etc. It seemed to me that those objects were definitely much nicer fancy goods than the well known Czech garden plaster colored dwarf statuettes, sold in such a large extent and variety on the border between the Czech Republic and Germany. This comparison brings to mind the fact of prostitutes standing near the Czech border, offering their services to wealthy German clients.
Fortunately, this does not occur at the Mexican border. On the other hand,there was a great number of beggars, including small children. What a hard job it had to be in the 90-100 degree F heat, sitting on the extremelyhot pavement. This had to be particularly hard for all those ancient women, stretchingtheir meager hands towards donors. As for the dirt cheap articles, I wish I had had more space in my luggage, because I could have gotten some very good deals there. Alas, I was compelled to limit myself in selecting only small junky articles for my grandchildren. However, for my son, Mark, who is a musician, I was able to get Mexican castanets. For my fashion conscious daughter Jana, I bought a low priced pair of shorts and a blouse with a colorful flamingo design. In fact, all vendors who were crowded close together, were calling upon you to come over, trying hard to sell you just about anything. The lanes between the stalls were protectedfrom the sun by canvas roofs. However, they did little to protect us from the extreme heat.
As it was noontime, we went to a restaurant for lunch. Its name was Canada, and it boasted to be âśthe worldâ(TM)s best kitchenâť.
There,they also offered Mexican dishes which I liked so much. The rest of our gang ordered chicken or fish. Afterwards, we took a stroll, passing through the narrow streets and visiting stores to cool off in their air conditioned premises. I was told that in Mexico, there exist the very rich and the very poor with not much in between. Unfortuantely, the latter prevail by an overwhelming number.
There are many who think that many of them are lazy. However, when such Mexicans escaped to the USA to Texas and got employment, they quickly became skillful at their job. In reality,
Mexicans surpassed Afro-Americans in this respect. It was indicated that regrettably, the latter were not much interested in working, particularly so when they could easily live on federal/state social unemployment benefits. Besides being good workers, Mexicans seem to be also interested in improving their education. Nuevo Progresso is famous not only for its stalls and souvenirs, but also for its reasonably prized medical, pharmaceutical and dental services. Their quality is allegedly comparable to that of the USA.
In the afternoon, we squeezed our way through the overcrowded narrow streets, filled with stalls and stores, and got into our car. Oh my, inside the car, it was at least 100 degress F. When we got to the border, Jerry had to explain to the customs/police officers who I was, because otherwise, they might have been inclined to keep me there. This had happened to other people in the past! Suddenly, I realized that during all of our Mexican trip, I had not heard any Czech. We were returning by a different route. We are passing through the biggest Texas ranch, the King Ranch. More vast, unending, dry wasteland for the next 100 km.
I spent the rest of the trip singing western songs, playing casettes I had brought with me.Translated by Charles Opatrny
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Reportáže z atraktivních míst San Franciska, Los Angeles, San Diega, Orange County a dalších střídají příběhy českých osobností. Najdeme tu jména novináře Jožky Pejskara, spisovatele Jana Beneše, skladatele, fotografa a dobrodruha Eduarda Ingriše, prof. Ivo Feierabenda a jeho otce, politika z první republiky Ladislava, který se zasloužil o zemědělské družstevnictví, profesorky, klavíristky a výrazné vlastenky Marie Dolanské, příběh rodiny Georginy Teyrovské, která se musela se svým manželem Eduardem v roce 1949 proplazit přes hranici, když jim komunisté zabavili nejznámější pražskou barvírnu a šlo jim o život.
Je tu i částečný příběh Jiřího Voskovce, který prožíval své poslední roky v mohavské poušti.
Samozřejmě je zde také putování po stopách Jacka Londona, který zde v mládí kradl ze sádek ústřice, ale v pozdějším věku své úspěšné spisovatelské kariéry si postavil pěkný dům, který je dnes jeho muzeem a nedaleko je i jeho hrob. V přístavu Oakland má své náměstí, sochu Bílého tesáka, chatu dovezenou až z Aljašky a hospůdku, do které chodil.
Knížka představí i Jiřího Knedlíka, který v hlavním městě Sacramentu peče nejlepší lázeňské oplatky na světě, příběh bratra známého spisovatele Oty Ulče Gustava, zajímavé zážitky mladé spisovatelky Katky Dehningové a mnoha dalších.
Čtivé je vyprávění o minulosti i současnosti zdejšího Sokola, o tzv. Československém domečku, o několika Českých školách a školkách a v neposlední řadě o mladých lidech, kteří sem přišli až po roce 1989 a dobře se uplatnili.
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