When I opened my email on Wednesday morning, there was a message from my dear friend Megan who I worked with in South Africa last year. She had taken a last minute flight from Colorado to New York City to visit our other friend Sarah, and they wanted to meet up. I was about to burst with excitement, because even though New York City and South Carolina aren’t exactly next door to each other, if anyone could make a meetup happen, it would be us. I scrambled to get my shifts covered at work for the next two days while Megan and Sarah picked a place (Outer Banks, North Carolina), called the tourism office, and rented a house in Kill Devil Hills. In a matter of an hour we had a plan and my work was taken care of. After a late Wednesday night at work, I still leapt out of bed Thursday morning, excited to see my friends. After we worked together last summer, I caught up with Megan during my road trip through San Francisco last October, but I had not seen Sarah since we parted ways back in the village. It was bound to be a fabulous little getaway.
While Megan and Sarah had a 9-hour drive ahead of them, mine was more manageable at just over 6 hours. And, though debatable, I would venture to say that my route was far more interesting. Why? Because it included stops at rural gas stations (which means interesting characters to meet), religious and political signage that can only be found in the south, and then a stop at South of the Border.
South of the Border is what you could call a tacky tourist attraction that lies on the North Carolina-South Carolina border, in SC. If you have seen the movie Forces of Nature or driven down I-95, you might have heard of it. At one time, there were billboards for it up and down the entire East Coast. Now, there are probably well over 100 billboards that make it impossible to pass without notice.
It is tacky and super kitschy with its stereotypical Mexican decor and names, without so much as a single Mexican in sight. Pedro, in his sombrero and Mexican getup, is the mascot for South of the Border. At this time of year, it looks virtually abandoned. The amusement park rides are shut down and there’s barely any cars in site. I ventured into Pedro’s Pantry for a drink, but decided to pass on Porky’s Truck Stop as well as the hat shop. Have you ever been to South of the Border? Or seen one of their billboards? If not, I’m sure you’re dying to go now!