The warmer weather recently, coupled with the start of spring break, bring back memories for us of past trips to the beach. Ironically, the beach trip my children and I remember most wasn't over spring break and didn't even involve me. This means that the account of the trip you are about to read is based on what my kids all told me rather than anything I actually experienced. That said, I also need to make it clear that I wouldn't be writing and posting this if I felt any of it was inaccurate; my offspring are intelligent, accurate, and all had the same story, and I believe them completely.
During Christmas vacation visitation with their dad at the end of 2002, my ex-husband and his wife borrowed a large RV from his brother and told the kids they were going to the beach for a few days. The kids said they were excited about the trip and getting to ride and camp out in their uncle's fancy RV. They loaded up and made the long drive down to South Padre Island.
My children said their first surprise was that upon arriving, their father and step-mother parked the RV, had them unload their bags, and checked them into a hotel. The kids said they were disappointed about not being able to sleep in the RV, but as soon as they discovered their fancy hotel (the Sheraton) had a "really cool pool" and was located right on the beach, they apparently decided it was an acceptable substitute.
The kids said their next surprise was discovering they weren't on this trip alone with their father and step-mother as they'd thought. At some point, they met up with their step-mother's sister, her husband, and her son who'd driven down from their home in Boerne in a separate car. They then started using the car to get around in instead of the RV.
While riding around in this car, all of my children said there was a small suitcase or briefcase in the back seat. They were emphatically told they were not to open or even touch the case for any reason, and they said being told this frightened them; no one would answer any of their questions about it, either.
I think they said it was on the last day of their trip that their dad told them they were going down to the border to cross into Mexico and have lunch at a favorite restaurant of his. They loaded up the RV, drove down, and pulled into a parking lot that the kids said was right beside the border. Their dad parked the RV and then went over to pay the attendant an additional sum of money and heard him ask that the attendant keep an especially close eye on the RV. Then they all crossed a footbridge into Mexico and spent a few hours eating and looking around.
Apparently it was quite sunny and warm that day, because the kids said they all returned to the RV hot and tired. They climbed inside and prepared to leave, but to their surprise, the engine wouldn't start--the battery was dead. Their father herded everyone outside and called his automobile club to send someone to jump-start them. The kids said both their father and step-mother were very angry and kept saying over and over again the the battery was dead because someone had left the lights on inside, even though the kids tried to tell them they didn't think they'd done this.
To make matters worse, the auto club took a long time to arrive (the kids described it as "hours", for whatever that's worth). They were hot and thirsty, but their dad and step-mother refused to let them go back into the RV for a drink. The eldest said they were all also bored and remembered having left a pad of paper and a pen just inside the door, but when they tried to reach in for it, their step-mother ran up and started screaming at them not to go back inside. (The children all described it as screaming, the oldest said her step-mother "lost it bigtime", and they all agreed it was "scary".) Thankfully, someone eventually came and jump-started the RV, and they were finally able to leave.
As they were heading back home, the RV pulled up to the highway checkpoint inside the border (U.S. side). The kids said there was a very long line of vehicles in front of them (including other RVs), and they assumed they'd be stuck there for some time. Instead, to their amazement, officials waved them on through; my oldest two children claimed theirs was the only vehicle that was never stopped.
After returning, the children decided they all wanted to cut their visitation with their dad short and return home, so he brought them back early. Once they started telling me about their trip, I became alarmed, because it sounded a lot like drug trafficking. Trying to question them about the details of what they'd experienced had to be very carefully done in order to keep from frightening or upsetting them further, and I had no lawyer to discuss the situation with, but gradually over the course of about a week, the kids told me more and more and I also heard them discussing the trip with each other and learned a few additional disturbing details.
As you can imagine, I was extremely upset by the thought that my children might have been taken on a drug trafficking trip. Eventually, I decided I'd better inform law enforcement and let them handle it, so I wrote a letter about what the kids had told me and sent it to the FBI in San Antonio. However, I mailed this letter to a special post office box the FBI had asked me to use rather than to their main office, which in retrospect may have been a mistake. I also contacted a woman I knew from my church whose husband had high-level law enforcement contacts about what the kids had said. (I now know this was definitely a big mistake!) Of course, I never heard anything back from the FBI about it, and the woman from church told me not to talk about it.
Since this happened, I've learned that RVs are commonly used for smuggling. In fact, one RV was recently found to contain a total of 7.5 million dollars worth of cocaine. (Yes, you read the figure correctly.) With that much in a single RV, well... I'll let you do the math. Kinda puts a whole new spin on "Winter Texans", doesn't it?
My former brother-in-law often parks his RV directly across the street from the entrance to our high school football stadium on game days. He erects tall flags in front of it that can be seen for quite a distance, and then he and his family and friends hold big parties until the game begins (and sometimes longer). His close friends on the local police force are usually nearby.