I knew I was in trouble when I saw four street vendors, pushing their supermarket carts with rickety wooden scaffolding propped up to hold up to view their candies, pictures of Pope Paul II and the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexican flags, potato chips, scapularies, and corn chips. I'd never seen a single professional ambulante at this crossing before. They were moving caravan-style from the San Jeronimo parking lot where the military jeeps stop traffic, heading toward the Santa Teresa crossing. It could only mean one thing: a traffic line at least 20 minutes long. Sure enough, when I turned the corner I saw the line backed up all the way to the front of the Mexican customs facility. I calculated, correctly, about 50 minutes to an hour, and as a consolation I bought a sinfully caloric bag of chile corn chips and tried to sneak in a 30-second siesta here and there in homage to the noon hour while waiting for the line to inch up a car length or two.
I also read the grisly details from the newspaper accounts of the 26 persons who were murdered in Juarez this past weekend. The one about the woman who bled to death from gunshot wounds as the ER people reached her car stuck in traffic three blocks from the hospital was the one that most stuck in my head. All in all I counted 8 rickety supermarket carts. The word has gotten out and so forget it, Santa Teresa will no longer be an easy 2-10 minute wait. When the four lanes from Juarez are finished the lines will be even longer. This turn of events will definitely affect my marginal decision to go to Juarez or not.