Monday, March 24, 2008
As Promised, A Review of South of the Border
It was about 9:30 Pm on Thursday the 13th when we pulled off of I95 into a neon jungle of ridiculousness. I had been pressuring the driver at the time to pull over since I saw the first billboard advertising South of the Border's many roadside attractions waaaaay back in Virginia, so needless to say we stopped. I was under the impression there would be rides, but rides their were not. I should have checked the website a little more closely. We parked my stuffed minivan infront of what looked like an open arcade and proceeded to try and go in. It was open...but no one was inside. We walked across the asphalt field that separated the two strips of the roadside stop and tried to go into a fireworks shop. Once again, it was open , but nobody was inside. We saw other, probably confused, motorists in the distance wandering around the property just like we were, but we didn't get close enough to really see them or talk to them so who even knows if they were real. We proceeded to go the pink neon lit ice cream parlor. Surprise surprise it was open...and noone was there! Now, when I keep saying "no one was there," I mean it quite literally, no one was in the building. Every gift shop, restaurant, stand, ANYTHING AT ALL was fully lit up and functioning, but lacking any sort of employees. We continued our eerie stroll though this oddly famous over-the-top rest stop and entered a cafe. Finally, some life. We saw a girl behind the counter mopping, she was a teenager I suppose. She looked up at me and quickly went to the back of the kitchen, out of sight to me and my party. She never came back out. At this point my apprehension with the whole situation had reached levels my road trip-mates had already been experiencing. They kept telling me that we needed to go, but I NEEDED to press on. This whole place was a ghost town. I felt like I was in a scary movie of sorts. The neon burned so brightly you couldnt see anything but the South of the Border signs ans shops. We walked some more and found a statue of a ram, so, naturally, we climbed it. The climbing of the ram might have been the most fun part of South of the Border, which obviously isn't saying much. We figured we might as well use the facilities before we got to our still hours-away destination of Charleston, SC. I walked into the bathroom and each urinal was in a closet. Each urinal was behind a small black door and I felt as though leatherface was going to come out and split my sternum apart with a hook, but alas that didn't happen. After stepping out of the dankest bathroom I've used in my career of public restroom patronage we literally sprinted back to the car and motored away. We were in a daze, confused as to why we stopped and why it remains a destination for so many. Professor Strate warned to watch for shady characters down at South of the Border, but he should have warned of it being absolutely abandoned. We ended up finally getting a bite in Charleston; Pizza, in fact. It was some of the worst pizza I've ever had, and I had almost half a pie. South of the Border left me hungry for more.