HOW TO GET YOUR KID OUT OF A MEXICAN PRISON (with a rainbow blanket as souvenir)
NOV 29th. Yesterday I went to a Mexican prison to bail out my son. The cops, lawyers, judicial system is more like a cash register than a penal system. They are raising hard currency from our kids but for the good of Mexico I guess. (AndI thought I gave at the office hiring gardeners.) Anyway, I wanted the kid back so I paid the 400$ cut by sharp legal scissors exactly to fit the size of his crime --trying to sail away in a boat that wasn't his. He told he me was going to FIJI to get away from California. That it was just 32 days away. SO it's the best thing that he foundered on rocks of harbor, exiting it, and got caught.WHEW AM I LUCKY!
I get into the prison and surprise! I find that he didn't want to leave. Now don't get me wrong. We are making him leave, me and the system but my son the Mystico Christico Schizo, Luis Jr. did not want to be rescued if it meant returning to the California Penal system. And as he'd run away from an L.A. half way house which he'd earned with four years of being top nutcake in Patton Mental hospital, (Suitcase full of diplomas from them, awards and scrolls and such.) but he did not think PATTON was a worthy place to go back to and an incident occurred at halfway house that made him BELIEVE they'd send him back. So he'd left the halfway house as a mild infraction, a sip off someone's glass of vodka, which HE HIMSELF confessed to his social worker. "IT LOOKED LIKE ORANGE JUICE." The worker was real dour and it scared the kid. He felt it didn't look good. He might have to go back to Patton. But now, after fleeing to Mexico and grabbing someone's small sailboat (turned out to belong to Mexican Navy,) and now prison, he would have to go back to square one, PATTON, no doubt about it.
"LEAVE ME HERE, MOM", please, he begged urgently, weeping thruout our 20 minute meeting. Imagine a kid who'd prefer beatings and starvation in a MEXICAN PRISON to PATTON! I almost would have. Such work to raise money, pull strings to get him out and he'd prefer a Mexican prison to the four star accomodation's at LA's premier mental facility?
I didn't do the Jewish guilt thing and say that to him nor did I explain how it took American Embassy and Tijuana Consulate and all the Saints in heaven to get his bail reduced from 2k to 400$, and then two Embassy consuls ---one to drive, ---one to ride shotgun --- to accompany us l00 miles south of Tijuana where the Consul was, to Ensenada where the prison was, and then to get Mom into the prison to see him.
There were two State Dept officials, Elisa the Mexican and Kristi. The daily riff for these ANGELS of succor is, they have to drive this PERILOUS AMALFI COAST from Tijuana to Ensenada, a toll road, two lanes of super speed, no stop, no contrary traffic, walled in, just an hour long hundred mile arrow flight a yawn if it weren't for the immense serene landscape.
They make this trip to Ensenada every time a gringo gets in trouble there. And they visit the prison and take vitamin pills for the living 25 other jailed or IMPRISONED AMERICANS (Or they bury the dead. They had a sports fisherman's body, the ship had gone missing, but the body finally showed up...God knows how, and it needed shipping home I guess. Kristi the BALLERINA Angel Consul would keep rolling her eyes and saying 'we gotta get him outta there immediately!' As if she knew some horrible secret of doom that was liable to happen at any moment in prison.Something she knew and wasn't telling.! !
People would stop bombing American embassies if they saw how devoted these employees are to the scurviest of their citizens. Like low-FLYING angels, zooming over this incredible oversize landscape in a white Ford Taurus risking death, to come with jail keys when Moms have cash, and vitamin pills when their families forget them.
The terrain between Tijuana Ensenada is on a large scale. Not pukey little hills like the Alps not some folklorico coastal winding road lke the Amalfi coast of Italy but IMMENSE mountains reaching to God as if THE ROCKIES had become round huge breasts, placid D-cup hills and perhaps some MAJOR CLIFFS had been added on the ocean side that dropped thousands of feet to the world's biggest smoothest most flat ocean, with equally huge inlets, bays. Not cozy bays like La Jolla, TERRIBLE, frightening, nightmarish BIG bays and thousands of feet down from the winding road.
Elisa drove a new Ford Taurus ahead of us, l00 miles an hr at times, and we're in this JEEP that isn't supposed to do sixty, four cylinders that are geared up to sound like six and now we're calling its ruse and demanding it perform like it had eight. Elisa drove the Ford supposedly just in front of us, but as she went l00, she soon got way way out miles in front. She's a Mexican nat'l with a flamenco castanet penache, flashing eyes and the imposing stature of an Olympic spearthrower, whom we'd later watch penetrate prisons and legal courts greeting all, warm and humorous with every employee except maybe the pair of cross eyed leering helldog career drunk guards at the prison's outer door whom she ignored, going straight upstairs to the warden to demand this mother get to talk to her kid. And then Kristi, the face and figure and swan neck of a ballerina, the quiet Grace Kelly type who'd segued from teaching to the State Dept due to perfect bilingual Spanish..... But I'm getting away from myself.
I heard about my son November 4th, from another prisoner's family who called me from Long Beach. I began to write lawyers and officials in the Baja California government (whom I could find on the internet ) and contact U.S. Consul/Embassy/ State Dept in Tijuana.
My escape plan was multi-pronged. I sought to have the boy's Mexican father pay the bail, get him out, a father whom he'd never met and find legal aid if I needed court things done for me. (I didn't, Embassy did it all.) Then I was also writing family members and friends to raise bail money.
I thought this BAIL matter was just a few bad cops seeking a huge mordida ---at first. No, it's the Mex legal system. It's about bail money. You pay the bail money to the court. The court is a cash cow and lawyers run it..
I had no way to get down there, I'm unsmogged, untagged, uninsured but a gal pal volunteered her jeep. My astrologer picked the best day Nov 28th, saying 'Moon conjunct Uranus, you can't avoid the fact, there's going to be a big surprise, an unexpected left turn but as your SUN is right under it, that's good." I said I was friendly to Uranus being Aquarian and he to me so that was D-day.
Consul Kristi had emailed she wanted us in her office after breakfast because the cops who returned the prisioners left at 3pm. All payments had to be done before that time. I woke at 5 am and in darkness, made a jug of coffee, filled the refrigerated aluminum bag with blue ice and Thanksgiving leftovers, baggied up, fed my cats, set up feeding stations with kibble in case of any kind of delay on mother's part. Turned on radios, lights, locked all bedroom doors.
At first light, I drove across the Valley to the Hollywood Hills, crossed through them on the 405, empty because the day after Thanksgiving no one was working. I arrived at Bab's house in Sta Monica. 8 am-ish. She is a brave school teacher, (ARIES) who fearlessly volunteered for this. We loaded her car and took off, laughing as we realized we two L.A. internet ladies never had consulted MAPQUEST. We had no idea how to get there. Freeway must go to the border, let's just get on it.
She barreled. This mid 90s JEEP was gunning. I could feel those three Aries planets in the destiny house, Sun/Venus Jupiter conjunct. She was born for Speedway driving or NASA. She drove like she was RIPLEY in ALIEN driving SPACE WARP speed. We got to Tijuana at ten or eleven, not sure which, Jeep doesn't build dash clocks very well. We entered Tijuana on the sumptuous EAST side of the town, Avenue of the Heroes with palisades of statues, parks, new buildings. This had been a slum 'til Tijuana got prosperous.
We found the heavily armed Consulate. Who knew the American State Department had archangels hidden in their huge, fortified offices, girls whose permanent job is to get americans abroad out of trouble. AND their case load is huge. These two cities Tijuana and Ensenada are like SPRAWLING hybrids of Calcutta and NEW YORK without the tranquility of India nor the sterile linear predictability of New York.
TIJUANA AND ENSENADA have become bloated, IMMENSE tumors....the size of L.A. but not neat. The word City planner doesn't exist in their language. Sprawling shack cities filled with cemeteries, mile wide, car graveyards another mile wide. And Mexicans. Tourists only are found on the Avenida Revolucion.
The embassy girls were in a hurry, they get their car. Elisa drove. Up into and thru the posh housing developments, like our Hollywood Hills, but where L.A's hills are green and wooded, Baja is rock, gravel and sand, inhospitable to growing things, treeless, arid but posh Normandie, French, Renaissance noveau riche mansions were set elbow to elbow, each with high fences, barbed wire atop fences as kidnappings are endemic. Dogs would have a hard time finding a place to walk in these yards but they were present, Rotts, Shepherds, Pinschers.
Somebody was making huge money and wanted to live well up above and away from the slums but no matter how rich, they had to look down on it, twenty miles of slum shanties extending in every direction. Lurching our way thru Tijuana's mountain top exit took a half hour.
Then, an hour drive on a toll road through the biggest, round mountains I'd ever seen and we were in Ensenada. The angels drove us up miles of shanty dirt roads going straight up mountains, to the Judges's office (next door to the prison.) We picked up my son's legal papers, then drove down hill and across town to a cashier then back up hill to the prison. It looked like a big body shop, cement walls, iron doors and tin roof.
Elisa pulled some strings and I was told I could talk to my son, and I was told to wait. I began talking to a guard animatedly and I turn and there's Luis laughing at the sight of his momma. NOBODY had told him why he was being taken from his cell. He had a copy of Milarepa under his arm which Hari Prem had mailed him from the high desert of New Mexico.
I thought, what a great prison. They let them get books! UNLIKE a string of places he'd been in before. Luis realized I had 'paid for him to get out'. He looked at me with grief. "But I would rather die than go back to Patton. I want to stay!" WHAT????? A few feet beyond the iron door I could see wired yards, prisoners like dobermen pinchers...hundreds of them, thin. Stunned creeps, shuffling skeletons like in Auschwitz, men discarded by evolution, removed from the breeding pool. Luis held out his tupperware dish of soup, thin thin soup. A Few pieces of fatty pork lay in it, three curled tortillas on a dish. "Yuu can have my lunch." I polished the spicy soup. Great stuff, While he chewed thru the granola bar like a cartoon buzz saw. "I don't want to go back to Patton. THEY DOPE YOU UP, You just pace, pace, walk the floors in circles like a pound dog. They don't allow you to receive books in the mail. The dope steals your soul. Please." His eyes filled with tears. LEAVE ME HERE.
YOU LIKE THIS? I could SMELL him. I WAS SMELLING filthy clothing and seeing it too. His underwear had become the color of his skin. His bodywas thin, How did you get here? I took a bus to Tijuana and walked the rest of the way. Water's the thing. I had to drink it off the highway. That's what you want, not food. He said.
I remembered that he'd suddenly come off meds. What was that like? FINE. He said. great. No problem. Oh surely, you were ....dizzy or isn't there some side effect? I had sent away for 4 dozen videos on the effects of anti psychotic meds, why hadn't I watched more than just one? It was a
weekly educational TV show that some doctor did funded by the Pharm companies....like two years of some dr's talk show. And the first show underscored the fact that AP drugs give the patient a quick road to heart disease and overweight. Luis had gained 50 lbs at Patton and the weight was gone. I was looking at someone trim and tanned, brighteyed, where at patton he always looked like a fat leering drunk "I don't want to go back. I don't need meds. I'm fine. " I believed him but The book work can't be undone I told him, I paid the 400$ bail, the immigration police will be here in a while to take you to the border to hand you over to the Americans and the word from your Public Defender is, Patton Mental hospital once again.
He just went wild, painting for me the horrors of a year in downtown LA in Twin Towers LA's huge skyscraper cement and iron holding tank, waiting while courts machinery ground nightmare slow, nightmare years slow, and considered doing that all over again. That ate up one year the first time. One year, in a city jail waiting for courts and judges and PD's to show up, and months between their visits and repeated court visits and no books allowed. My typed letters too small and pain creating. BUT NO BOOKS allowed. I just got Hawaii by Michener and Centennial by Michener and no way to give them to him. NONE. Because the state won't let one. And at Twin towers, vicious, attempted homosexual rape, which Luis fought off with no help as guards didn't come for an
hour of his screaming for them and fighting the guy off. Another time at Twintowers he won at chess and the prisoner threw the board on the ground then BROKE LUIS' nose. Smashed the most perfect nose ever into a pulp.
I said, I know Twin Towers and patton had drawbacks, but how can you take this, want this over coming back to CALIFORNIA? He said "At Patton they drug you silly; everyone just shuffle thru the halls or some pace in circles, day in day out. I just curled into fetal position in bed.The drugs turn off all the lights inside you, you become a drugged hibernating animal. All humanness is gone. You can't imagine it. I'm thinking, I have four dozen videos on those drugs that I ordered and couldn't bear to watch. The doctors practically rat out those.....effects. Meaning, they reveal that you are baically cooking the guy's brain like a potato, pouring cheese sauce over his gray matter until he's less than a vegetable, a blurry mess. And leaving him there to rot. NOT rehabilitating anybody. That
is lying yammer. Their job is to taper him off and see if a year of good food, exercise, studies have paid off. NOT turn him into garbage disposal material.
I remember back to the days when he became schizophrenic. He did it the way all Americans do, not eating well enough if at all, not sleeping long enough, doing gallons of black coffee all day and
working long long stressy hrs, driving a hundred miles a day in traffic and then at home unwinding, drinking a six pack of dutch beer all night, living alone in his first apt, and I'd visit and never ever find FOOD in that fridge. Then, he started to get bozo on us. Maybe drugs weren't the way back. Maybe? FOOD? SLEEP would have been?
I asked him, where were you going? He said, "I knew I had to get away from the State of california and i was going to Guanajuato deep in the heart of Mexico, to see my father."
Maybe I shouldn't have told hi the truth but I did. "We had the San Miguel Consul call your father at his home asking him to get you out, he said he didn't know me, had no children with this unknown woman and that he, didn't know you, named after him or me. My son was deeply shocked. I felt like I'd cut the roots off a redwood.
Barbara and I left stunned. Drove slowly down the dirt road in this jungle of body shops and car graveyards distributing clothing to the poor. Pre-departure I had asked all my neighbors for old blankets, adult clothes, kids' clothes to distribute. Neighbors made three deliveries to my sidewalk marked boxes, bags and boxes were set on hood of my car, didn't see the people, but it must have been the five or six houses I'd visited. I had made little cards asking specifically, giving my phone, addie. Got these big boxes/ bags...great clothing some amazing twelve year old never soiled one thing he wore. TWO NICE bed pillows. I put some of my pillow cases on them so they look nice. A nice table cloth I'd have kept...white made a great tie dye subject but who has time? I used to tie dye a lot. Give it to the poor.
Coming in from the Ensenada highway which is on a mountain top, you come down a half hour hill road covered with shanty towns. We stopped here and there and gave things to surprised people wearing rags.
We got to the back side of the city itself more of that odd 50 mph gridlock. Miles of it, whizzing you past the mercado publico where we wanted to investigate the price of bees honey and brooms and red wine. There were no parking places anywhere, the place was jammed and moving at 60 mph. At no time could we everSLOW the car enough to find the shopping center's driveway or see if it were a GIGANTE supermarket. Now way to get out of the car to buy the straw broom, bee's honey, Baja's red wine, kitchen tools of peltre or enamel over steel, that we were looking for.
The border was a half hour wait, 8 lines of people 100 cars long drug sniffing shepherds nose to wheel, juggling 7 year olds dodging car bumpers to earn a dollar, and hundreds of vendors. Well the mex really work that line! There are kids juggling, kids with chatzkes, piggy banks, which I always crave I am a piggy bank nut. I ALWAYs save as I can't bear to break pottery. I once broke one by error and it had 80bucks. and there are dozens of young mothers with multiple kids with them, begging. And salesman wi. every kind of blanket and crap slung all over them. WELL the blanket, bed sized, rainbow lines, brilliant colors, like a navajo blanket almost.....I HAD TO GET RID OF PESOS. I had 22 bucks in pesos I DID NOT WANT to take back to USA. They calculate that will happen. Every gas station gives you pesos back, every toll house on roads-- so Barbara and I each bought a rainbow striped blanket big enough to cover a couch or bed, 20$ Looked like real wool. (Got it home, label says acrylic and poly. ) Oh well, if it were real wool, it would have been worth a thousand. We wear costume jewelry don't we? And now I have a palpable souvenir of this whole event.
We headed for L.A. Somehow time had been psychdelically reduced to hash. The drive back seemed like it was maybe a half hour long. Now we ate dinner. Before leaving L.A. I had packed an aluminum carry all bag with day old leftover roast turkey, stuffing, a cucumber salad with a yogurt/ mayo dressing, bible bread a head of washed dark green salad, all baggied and in a box, all fresh with a brick of solid blue ice. Thanksgiving leftovers. A jug of grapefruit juice sugared with mint so that it tasted like pineapple juice. A jug of black coffee so that I could drive in a straight line and we didn't have to stop for anything but to fill the tank a few times.. Like a Zephyr from hell we got as far from this new prosperous Mexico as we could.
Trip cost HIGHWAY TOLLS, 15$ ----GAS 4 tanks, $88 ----kid 400 ---blanket 22 View of future PRICELESS
<===REST OF STORY ABOUT THIS RESCUE IS AT ENSENADA DIARY