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South of the Border

May 13th, 2010 (12:04 am)

current mood: drained

I'm sitting in a Wingate hotel room outside of Savannah, Georgia, after a very long day of driving from the Washington, D.C., area. Tomorrow I should reach Cocoa Beach, FL, about five hours farther. Traffic was light the whole way down and the weather was great -- perfect conditions for today's nearly 600-mile road trip.

I couldn't resist stopping briefly at South of the Border. Have you ever been to this place? It's an overblown rest stop with a Mexican theme, just south of the border between North and South Carolina, in Dillon, SC. All along I-95, through both states, motorists are bombarded with a string of billboards touting its pleasures, complete with cheesy art and groan-inducing slogans ("You never SAUSAGE a place!") that nonetheless were much worse back in the less politically correct past, when they featured a horribly stereotypical caricature of a mustachioed Mexican man in a serape. "Pedro" is still there on some of the billboards, and he's still a stereotype, but he's not nearly as offensive as he used to be.

You can see South of the Border from the interstate. If curiosity doesn't lead you down that exit ramp, then you're probably just not paying attention. The place boasts a 200-foot observation tower shaped like a sombrero, enormous fake cacti lining the roads, many buildings with signs shaped like sombreros or other kitschy Mexican-flavored icons, a grande helping of green and pink neon, oversized and imaginatively painted plaster animals, a 100-foot high statue of Pedro straddling the entrance (you can drive between his legs) and a huge banana-yellow water tower featuring the attraction's initials: S.O.B. This overdecorated outrageousness graces touristy attractions including a miniature golf course, souvenir stores, t-shirt shops, fireworks stands, restaurants, and more. All in all, it's an overdose of nonauthentic Mexican Americana. Ole!

I'll post photos next week, when I'm home and can upload them.


Posted by: White Raven, with or without a 13 (whytraven)
Posted at: May 18th, 2010 06:13 am (UTC)

Ah! My kind of place :)

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