For those of you who've never had the pleasure of driving through the Carolinas on I-95, South of the Border might be a bit difficult to describe. The massive tourist trap, which sits just South of the North Carolina/South Carolina border(get it?), includes a gas station, several restaurants, souvenir shops, fireworks stands, a motel, mini-golf course, amusement park and even a store selling pornography and sex toys.... I would describe the theme as "pre-politically correct 1950's Wetback kitsch". The mascot for South of the Border is Pedro, a Mexican equivalent of a Negro lawn jockey or Chief Wahoo, the idiotically grinning mascot of the Cleveland Indians. Pedro is a caricature - perhaps what our parents might have thought a Mexican looked or sounded like. His billboards "speak" in a thick Mexican accent, like this one -
In fact, I wonder whether"South of the Border" might be what Corey Stewart and his anti-illegal immigrant crowd in Prince William County picture as their own version of Hell!
It's probably been 25 years since I last stopped at South of the Border, and it might be that long before I stop again, but I couldn't resist passing through, and taking a look around. Sadly, "SOB" has seen better days. Even in the middle of the day, much of the place was shut down, even though it was spring break. Many of the buildings were in disrepair, and it seems many other local businesses that once leached off of the tourist mecca have turned the area into a Tijuana ghost town. Just beyond "SOB", we saw boarded-up car dealerships, shutdown sex shops, and other dingy nightspots that once presumably used the allure of South of the Border to bring in customers. Sadly, it seems time has passed Pedro by... But we'll always have his billboards!