I left the hotel in the hopes that I could receive some sort of assistance from Calexico's Department of Housing. After securing my laptop and luggage in a self storage unit I had rented for a month, I made my way to HUD. Much to my dismay, they were not taking applications for apartments - huge ass sign was posting that fact at the door. The clerk was pleased as punch as she stated there were absolutely no services she could offer me.
I sat apprehensive and depressed in a local park surrounded by crackheads, biding my time until the men's shelter opened at three that afternoon. My hope's were low. I accepted the fact that I most likely had to sleep outside for a month until I got paid. What a bore.
Luck would have it, they did have bunks available and I was allotted a two months stay.
The low building was nestled in a pleasant neighborhood. A mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe scowled down at you from the main entrance. As I waited the few minutes before they unlocked the door, I was serenaded by a local crackpot - he of ratty clothes and cascading beard, yet beautiful voice - with various Mexican folks songs he claimed to have penned. After signing various paperwork, I was shown the dorm that housed fifty men - most migrant workers from across the border who tilled the surrounding farmlands of various produce.
After settling in, I walked out back for a smoke where I was greeted by a handsome, young Mexican washing his clothes in a plastic bucket. He smiled that smile, "You a Mexican or a gringo?"
"I am an American, like you." I joked.
He laughed and asked how I wound up in Calexico.
"Obviously, I made a wrong turn."
"Like all of us, huh?" He smiled.
We chatted and I found his name was Javier and he held a job harvesting broccoli at one of the local farms. After a messy dinner of what I suspected was chicken, I returned out back for another smoke only to meet another American. A shirtless, old thing - obviously queer - named Carl.
"So, how was your day?" He lisped, puffing on that smoke regally. I thought just the tone was hilarious and I burst out laughing, exclaiming in lieu of recent events, he made my day.
Though these guys - even the raucous crew in the dorm - were homeless, they emitted such positive vibes unlike the sad sacks who dwelt in El Paso. What a breath of fresh air.