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bought
packs of Mexican cig- , arettes for six cents each. We gazed and gazed at our
wonder- >,
ful Mexican money that went so far, and played with it and looked around and
smiled at
everyone. Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had
previously
known: about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land
at the end of
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the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic.  Think of these cats
staying up
all hours of the night, whispered Dean.  And think of this big continent
ahead of us with
those enormous Sierra Madre mountains we saw in the movies, and the jungles
all the
way down and a whole desert plateau as big as ours and reaching clear down to
Guatemala and God knows where, whoo! What ll we do? What ll we do? Let s
move!
We got out and went back to the car. One last glimpse of America across the
hot lights of
the Rio Grande bridge, and we turned our back and fender to it| and roared
off.
Instantly we were out in the desert and there wasn t light or a car for fifty
miles across the
flats. And just the dawn was coming over the Gulf of Mexico and we began see
the
ghostly shapes of yucca cactus and organpipe on all sides.  What a wild
country! I
yelped. Dean and I were completely awake. In Laredo we d been half dead.
Stan, who d
been to foreign countries before, just calmly slept in back seat. Dean and I
had the whole
of Mexico before us.
 Now, Sal, we re leaving everything behind us and entering^ a new and unknown
phase
of things. All the years and troubles! and kicks and now this! so that we can
safely
think of nothing else and just go on ahead with our faces stuck out like this
you see, and
understand the world as, really and genuine!^ speaking, other Americans
haven t done
before us they were here, weren t they? The Mexican war. Cutting across here
with
cannon.
 This road, I told him,  is also the route of old American 1 outlaws who
used to skip
over the border and go down to old Monterrey, so if you ll look out on that
graying desert
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and picture the ghost of an old Tombstone hellcat making lonely exile gallop
into the
unknown, you ll see further . . .  It s the world, said Dean.  My God! he
cried,
slapping the wheel.  It s the world! We can go right on to South America if
the road
goes. Think of it! Son-of-z-bitch! Gawd-damm! We rushed on. The dawn spread
immediately and we began to see the white sand of the desert and occasional
huts in the
distance off the road. Dean slowed down to peer at them.  Real beat huts,
man, the kind
you only find in Death Valley and much worse. These people don t bother with
appearances.
The first town ahead that had any consequence on the map was called
Sabinas Hidalgo. We looked forward to it -eagerly.  And the road don t look
any
different than the American road, cried Dean,  except one mad thing and if
vou ll
notice, right here, the mileposts are written in kilometers and they click
off the distance to
Mexico City. See, it s the only city in the entire land, everything points to
it. There were
only 767 more miles to that metropolis; in kilometers the figure was over a
thousand.
 Damn! I gotta go! cried Dean. For a while I closed my eyes in utter
exhaustion and
kept hearing Dean pound the wheel with his fists and say,  Damn, and  What
kicks!
and  Oh, what a land! and  Yes! We arrived at Sabinas Hidalgo, across the
desert, at
about seven o clock in the morning. We slowed down completely to see this. We
woke
up Stan in the back seat. We sat up straight to dig. The main street was
muddy and full of
holes. On each side were dirty broken-down adobe fronts. Burros walked in the
street
with packs. Barefoot women watched us from dark doorways. The street was
completely
crowded with people on foot beginning a new day in the Mexican countryside.
Old men
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with handlebar mustaches stared at us. The sight of three bearded, bedraggled
American
youths instead of the usual well-dressed tourists was of unusual interest to
them. We
bounced along over Main Street at ten miles an hour, taking everything in. A
group of
girls walked directly in front of us. As we bounced by, one of them said,
 Where you
going, man?
I turned to Dean, amazed.  Did you hear what she said? Dean was so astounded
he kept
on driving slowly and saying,  Yes, I heard what she said, I certainly damn
well did, oh
me, oh my, I don t know what to do I m so excited and sweetened in this
morning world.
We ve finally got to heaven. It-couldn t be cooler, it couldn t be grander,
it couldn t be
any-thing.
 Well, let s go back and pick em up! I said.
 Yes, said Dean and drove right on at five miles an hour. He was knocked
out, he didn t
have to do the usual things he-would have done in America.  There s millions
of them all
along the road! he said. Nevertheless he U-turned and came by the girls
again. They
were headed for work in the fields;, they smiled at us. Dean stared at them
with rocky
eyes.  Damn, he said under his breath.  Oh! This is too great to be true.
Gurls, gurls.
And particularly right now in my stage and condition, Sal, I am digging the
interiors of
these homes as we pass them these gone doorways and you look inside and see
beds of
straw and little brown kids sleeping and stirring to wake, their thoughts
congealing from
the empty mind of sleep, their selves rising, and the mothers cooking up
breakfast in iron
pots, and dig them shutters they have for windows and the old men, the old
men are so
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cool and grand and not bothered by anything. There s no suspicion here,
nothing like
that. Everybody s cool, everybody looks at you with such straight brown eyes
and they
don t say anything, just look, and in that look all of the human qualities
are soft and
subdued and still there. Dig all the foolish stories you read about Mexico
and the sleeping
gringo and all that crap) and crap about greasers and so on and all it is,
people here
are straight and kind and don t put down any bull. I m so amazed by this.
Schooled in
the raw road night, Dean was come into the world to see it. He bent over the
wheel and
looked both ways and rolled along slowly. We stopped for gas the other side
of Sabinas
Hidalgo. Here a congregation of local straw- hatted ranchers with handlebar
mustaches
growled and joked in front of antique gas-pumps. Across the fields an old man
plodded
with a burro in front of his switch stick. The sun rose pure on pure and
ancient activities
of human life. Now we resumed the road to Monterrey. The great mountains rose
snowcapped
before us; we bowled right for them. A gap widened and wound up a pass and we
went with it. In a matter of minutes we were out of the mesquite desert and
climbing
among cool airs in a road with a stone wall along the precipice side and
great
whitewashed names of presidents on the cliff sides ALEMAN! We met nobody on
this
high road. It wound among the clouds and took us to the great plateau on top.
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