The Economic Adventures of a Transborder Street Musician

Heading down south for the big Pesos.

So it happened… November 10, 2007

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Museo ex Aduana 


It had been there for a while, hidden in the back (or in a furtive somewhere) of my mind, I could almost feel it slowly crawling towards my brain muscle structure to suddenly emerge as an actual action when the time, or the need, was exact. And so it happened on Thursday as I stood there, literally just stood and stared there. 17 minutes after Government class, 13 to 20 hours before our paychecks, and 5 and a half hours before having to drive to work, I just stood and stared there in the living room. I stared at the center table, the encyclopedia, the colorful and helplessly irrelevant coasters on the dinning table, the fucking TV, the books, the toy blocks, the paintings, and out the windows from which I could see the real menace of them all: a gasless vehicle.

So, three minutes later a saw myself, as if suddenly awakened from sleep-walking, riding my bicycle towards downtown with a (earlier) borrowed guitar strapped to my back. I guess you could, if you wanted to, imagine me looking down, front, and sideways as if caricaturesquely confused while my feet moved frenetically in what appeared to be automated pedaling cycles. You don’t have to imagine me thus, but it could add a slightly comical twist to your reading if you are a slap-stick kind of person. So anyway, I was thinking about all kinds of stuff while I pedaled away to downtown. The plan that from such cycling thoughts emerged was this: arrive at the downtown border bridge on El Paso St.(in El Paso Tx), park my bicycle, walk across the border in to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, spot a space where I could sit, drop my hat and begin to play my songs. Simple thus genial, I thought. So genial I didn’t even think about bringing the extra 30 cents that I’d have to pay to cross the bridge back to the States. My (borrowed) guitar, 35 cents in my pocket, an almost illegal amount of adrenaline in my blood and myself made it across the border and into Downtown Juarez. Well, actually, the 35 cents had to stay with the lady at the pay booth.

You might ask yourself at this point, since I mentioned geniality and all that, wouldn’t it be simpler to avoid the border crossing thing and just play in the streets of downtown El Paso? Well, there’s the rub (and I do mean rub, no Shakespearean connotation intended). I’m still investigating thoroughly the legalities of it but I have been witness of tickets being handed out by police officers to street musicians in downtown El Paso. So for the time being, I’m sticking to Mexico, it makes this blog sound so much more interesting, or at least not as painful. I’ll be following up on such issues in this blog, plus the places where I play, the people that I encounter and of course the money that I make for it is such that we are interested in, aren’t we? So down to the basics of it all for now:



Day 1 


Amount of money made: $3.88 (ouch)

Cost of crossing the border: .35 cents going plus .30 cents coming back.

Total gain: $3.23 (OUCH)

Time played: 1 hour 45 minutes. (As R. Starr would say “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”)

Actually doing it: priceless. (plus we made it to the gas station and to work)