ERIK DOES NOT BELIEVE IN TEARS


Savannah – Kudzu, King of the Highway Median.
September 23, 2009, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Editor note: The about me page has been updated.  It includes the google map of the Route for easy access.

Until today, the furthest South I had ever been was Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.  I’ve also been to Memphis, but that does not really count because Graceland was like some kind of psychedelic 1960s meth nightmare.

Detroit and its surrounding suburbs, where I grew up, have a history of serious racial strife.  I have often heard that the Midwest is in some ways more racist than parts of the South.  I confess I accepted this received wisdom unchallenged, as I have limited experience below the Mason Dixon.  Then I met this guy:

Pedro, but he's apparently Irish.

Pedro, but he's apparently Irish.

Descending across the border into South Carolina from North Carolina, you will find “South of the Border.”  The billboards appear some 170 miles before the border, ratcheting up your excitement into a frenzy as you approach.  My friends who have been to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan will recognize this marketing ploy.  Unlike the “Mystery Spot” in the UP, “South of the Border” is not a gigantic sex organ hidden away in the woods.

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Have you ever seen “Carnival of Souls?”  This blonde woman crashes her car into a river.  She pulls herself out of the water, and stumbles into an abandoned amusement park.  The park is shot in moody black and white, and it is peopled by creepy undead carnival-goers that chase the woman around the decayed and debased ferris wheel with murder on their minds.

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“South of the Border” is a lot like “Carnival of Souls,” only instead of zombies it has this horse in a sombrero.

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The location’s mascot is “Pedro” (see above).  Pedro apparently owns several buildings.  There is “Pedro’s T-Shirt World” and “Pedro’s Tamales” (no tamales are served here) and “Pedros Leather Shop.”  We entered Pedro’s Coffee House/Hat Emporium*.

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There are no customers.  The parking lots are vacant, silent.  The only life consists of a handful of melancholy employees, eternally damned by Pedro to clean his floors with foul-smelling tile cleaner.  Leaving “South of the Border,” but not without taking advantage of Pedro’s restrooms, we soldiered on toward Georgia.  And when I say Georgia, I really mean Jesus:

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Jesus smiles upon "South of the Border" as we drive away.

Travel: Washington, D.C. to Savannah, GA.

States: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.

Post-trip meal: Domino’s Pizza and three 24 oz. bottles of Red Stripe.

*A word on my photograph of the Viking Hats.  Emily swears she had this exact hat in college.  What did she use it for?  Unknown.


3 Comments so far
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Please recall that you also had a Viking helmet which I believe you wore to Karnival–the Deutsche Mardi Gras. It was bronze colored plastic, and I think it resides to this day in the cabinet in the basement with your football helmet, Skeletor shield, and fireman’s hat. I think more people should wear Viking helmets, not just blonds with braids and breastplates.

Comment by mumsy

I drove up the East Coast last fall and had been warned about the tourist trap known as South of the Border. The billboards grabbed my attention, but I was ready to drive right on by. Then the car in front of me driven by my ex-campaign co-worker and current travel buddy pulled off the exit. He couldn’t have lived with himself if he let me drive right on by.

Nothing was open when we went, but we wandered through anyway. Racist, yes but also utterly fascinating.

Comment by Michelle

I bet it was actually open when you visited, only you looked at how abandoned it was and thought it was closed. You just didn’t see the defeated employees forever cleaning the linoleum floors of Pedro’s Empire.

Comment by erik




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