by Marcia Kaoru Wilbur

for my little sister, Sue who claims to have enjoyed my writing and said, “I don’t know why you do that technical stuff!”

Episode 1 – March 16, 2021: Mexico Raspberry Pi Lab Adventures

Mexico was fucking amazing!

I touched the ground in Mexico City, single mixed Greek Yankee Japanese woman from the US… a “cheena”. Immediately, upon exiting customs area, I was met by a man who spoke English. He approached, I thought he was a taxi service worker.

I sat in the back of the car, knowing this was a scam. The locking of the doors echoed clickkkkkkkkkk! Thud. This guy drove like a maniac. They could have at least blindfolded me! The way this guy drove… Was supposed to be a 2 minute ride. Supposedly, taking a cab was safer than walking to the bus depot. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…. right!

I was ferociously texting my point of contact, Adam. This was the worst driver in all of Mexico! What company would let this guy drive! Reality sunk in. I may be in a little bit of trouble…

Escape plan mode: on

Defcon: 4

The reason for the trip was to set up and maintain a few school labs, check out the college lab, meet with college staff in Oaxaca. All those years in Arizona and never once did I go to Mexico.

Dad told us not to go there, especially Tijuana. So, I avoided it…until this GNU Linux crusade. See, I didn’t need the internet. I didn’t need electricity… When you can rock offline… it’s life changing.

Life. Changing.

All those years in poverty, all those cold and hungry nights… rigging my equipment with paperclips and old storage… cleaning out the dust bunnies so I wouldn’t overheat and get shutdown during a chat in irc. Oh, I had experience with old, slow and broken equipment… it was called… my boxen. Not like the EdgeLord I recently designed.

All those missed opportunities, taking work as a technical writer just to get my foot in the door. Someday, someone will recognize my talent – I tried to convince myself. I was learning while there, anyway. I ended up going off on my own terms, being flown for migration and programming contracts, put up in 5 star hotels, wined and dined. Right out of the gate, I was sent to San Francisco in 2003 for LinuxWorld. 15 years later, and now that I had every financial luxury… now, I landed here – in this 3rd world country because of the story I heard about the last trip which indicated they really needed someone with tech. They did.

I mean I could list all the issues… starting with their inability to resize/truncate an image to trusting someone who knew Ubuntu to bring a repo. He showed up… without dependencies, with old vulnerable versions as well. Servers were missing at one site. At another, simply connecting the computers to the server and adding a link solved some of this lab’s issues. An earthquake had hit one lab. There was a need.

Here I was…by choice! Granted I was a little disappointed this was nowhere near sea turtles or fishing…

But there I was in the back of the car, the 2 men in front, knowing they were trying to get me somehow. You know, I’m a survivor. I’ve been beaten for less. I lived on MLK and Bonanza in Las Vegas back in the 90s, as an Asian in the ghetto during the Rodney King riots – I wasn’t scared of these 2 Mexicans. I knew I was there for a purpose and I would fulfill this purpose. These fools just wanted my cash… One was the confidence man, the other the wheel man. Classic scam.

“Ok Miss we are here. He is calculating the price.”
The car was locked.

We were in front of the bus depot in Mexico City. I just needed to get out of the car. All I had was a backpack and laptop bag so … I considered the window… as a last resort.

“55 dollars”

“55 dollars! pesos?”

“US dollars.” He was trying to fast talk me about why.

“Listen, I was told this was a 2 dollar ride. Clearly, you took the long route and no. I don’t have 55 dollars cash.”

Bitch, I’m a Connecticunt. I don’t keep cash in one place when I travel. Duh.

He didn’t believe me, I pulled out some pesos and 2 american dollars. Far too large a tip for this heist. He kept insisting. So…

“I have a credit card. Do you have square? Square? Venmo?”

They looked at each other and pointed to the ATM outside and I was like… whoa, they have this racket planned out well… but I insisted.

“No ATM! Square!”

They just gave up and unlocked the car. Well, it was their fault for not taking venmo or having square!

Episode 2: Bus Depot – no habla