Ah, South of the Border. The first and last time you will ever see a tourist trap/amusement park/Stuckey's-on-Steroids that is located in South Carolina
and based on a southerner's cartoonish approximation of what Mexico might be like.
I don't know how many other people have been here, but if you're taking the I-95 route to Florida, it is not to be missed. There are billboards stretching for 200 miles on either side of the attraction. They used to be in broken English and make jokes about Mexicans, but they had to stop. They also had to stop calling every employee Pedro. They really used to do that.
South of the Border is almost 150 freakin' acres
of souvenir shops, giant fibreglass doodads and unrepentant racism. Pedro is the mascot. You can drive between his legs on your way to the SOB Motor Inn/Pleasure Dome, which is what the Gobbler
could have been if only it had tried a little harder.
Perhaps the 200 foot Sombrero Tower
stands out to you from among the candy-colored rubble. If you've got a dollar, you can give it to the arcade attendant at its base and ride the glass elevator to the top. If you've got two dollars, you can get dust blasted at you in an ancient "hurricane simulator" between Ms. Pac Man and the coin-push machines.
Is there a leather shop? Yes. Is there a store that only sells novelty hats? Absolutely. Is there a store devoted to West African souvenirs? You betcha. Can you buy a dildo in one shop and wander to the next for some ice cream? At South of the Border, anything is possible.
Can you eat a steak in a restaurant shaped like a giant sombrero? Yes you can.
There is even a new "Reptile Lagoon", a distinct improvement from the snake and gator pit attractions of days gone by. The animals looked like they were halfway healthy and decently kept, even if this pignosed turtle is looking a little morose:
Do you think these mambas had any idea they were going to wind up in a faux-Mexican theme park in the Carolinas?
Of course, the ubiquitous "Pedro" statues wear gator-print shirts outside the reptile lagoon.
Here's one yellow SOB:
There are so many souvenir stores, most with names like "Peso Little"(and all of which, oddly, seem to carry the exact same flotsam of anything that can have the SOB logo stamped on it) that a pedway was built so visitors could safely cross from "Mexico" to "Mexico West".
There is an amusement park called "Pedroland", which looked shabby and sorry enough that we kept our distance. If it weren't near 100 degrees with debilitating humidity, I would have gone and gotten more pictures of that. For now, you're just going to have to picture bottom-of-the-barrel kiddie rides that have been given the South of the Border mexicanization treatment.
So, Pedro, it's adios for now, but I have my South of the Border back scratcher, kitchen magnets, bumper sticker, cup, eraser set, gator grabby thing on a stick, oven mitts, shot glasses, coffee mugs, placemats, pencil case, friendship bracelet, hair clips, totebag, t-shirt, hat that looks like a pizza, wallet, flip flops, ashtray, lighter, keychain, rain hat, windchime, pressed penny and snowglobe to keep you in my heart till next we meet.