After Hours Booze In El Paso And The Back Door To Mexico
Wanna know what rock bands, a legendary recording studio, last call, a dark, deserted highway and a great deal of luck have in common? Keep reading ...
Sonic Ranch is beyond legend. Surrounded by a pecan orchard in Tornillo, not far from the Rio Grande and the Mexican border, it has seen some amazing artists doing their thing.
I'm not even going to try and name them all but everyone from locals to mega, MEGA - stars have used this facility.
One national band was there for quite a while recording their album and, once they were pretty much done with it, they decided it was time to party. So, they called me. No names, sorry ... I rarely do that unless I include photos.
...and the ones I have from that night might get someone in trouble. Sooo ...
Anyway, it's party time, the records almost done and, somewhere around midnight, we realize we're out of liquor. We were also low on beer and, it being a weeknight, no whiskey could be purchased after 9pm. It was also too close to midnight to make it into town for beer.
Liquor laws in Mexico are different than in the US though, so ...
That's when I remembered having heard of a little known port of entry in the area used by locals and peeps coming in from points east, (Van Horn, Sierra Blanca, etc), to get into Mexico without coming all the way into El Paso.
Someone from Sonic Ranch called his grandfather who told him where it was and, with not all that great of an idea where we were heading, off the bands manager and I went.
Somehow, we found the crossing and, sure enough, a teeny, two lane bridge appeared before us spanning the Rio Grande. I swear, I don't think 2 cars could cross it at the same time and was so old and creaky, both of us were sure we were going in the rio.
Our directions indicated we were on the right track, and it was too late to go anywhere or do anything else so, on we went. As that bridge and it's single light tower faded out of view, it got pitch dark.
Driving from nothing, through nothing, toward nothing ... in a darkness so thick you could cut it ... was starting to get to both of us but we didn't cave and eventually got to a little place called Casetas.
Basically a wide spot in the road, it had a couple of basic stores, (I'd never been there before and haven't been back since so I can't tell you much more than what we saw that night), with basic things.
The "anchor" store sold animal feed, groceries, booze and had a pharmacy.
While the pharmacy was very tempting to my east coast companion, I said we should stick to our original plan, get our alcohol and get the hell off this Rob Zombie film set before it got any later.
I wasn't even sure we'd make it back over the bridge with the booze since, by this point, it was around 1:30am. Turns out it didn't matter as this hamlet was shut down for the night. Not a soul out, no lights, nothing. There didn't even seem to be any animals moving around.
Then, a small figure drifted out of the darkness. As he drew closer, we could tell it was a young boy, around 8 years old. A little dirty and either drugged or half asleep, he walked toward my side of the car and I swear he never made a sound.
Not his bare feet scraping on the ground, no keys or anything jingling, nothing. Silence..