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Great Moments-Busted at the Border

Jeremy Martin
From the Print Edition:
Laurence Fishburne, Jan/Feb 00

It's not as if it was going to fund Fidel Castro's next birthday party. After all, it was just one cigar. One head-spinning cigar as it turned out. But, when my spring-breakin' buddies and I were stopped at the U.S. border last April--by a border agent with a striking resemblance to Erik Estrada no less--I could only think of one thing: ¡Ay Cohiba!  

The trip was supposed to be a getaway, a chance to enjoy Southern California women south of the border, Sol cervezas under the Mexican sun and, of course, fine Cuban cigars. There's no better place to do those things than Tijuana, a hands-on "Pirates of the Caribbean" for college kids on spring break.  

This was intended to be an escape from the drudgery of work and school for our group, which included myself and two sets of brothers--Frank and Gabe Zarate and Chewy and Camilo Lopez. We were old high school friends, but our school days in a tiny San Joaquin Valley (California) farm town never prepared us   for what was coming.  

"Where ya guys been?" Ponch asked, not showing any indication of the CHiPs weighing heavily on his shoulders.  

"Tijuana."  

"Where ya guys from?"  

"Outside Fresno."  

"Where ya guys staying?"  

"In San Diego."  

Quick questions. Quick answers. All honest and to the point. We weren't looking for trouble. There was enough trouble, in all its hourglass shapes and shot-glass forms, in the other direction. Our four-day vacation was nearly over, and we were crossing the border for the final time. We were headed home.  


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