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How, oh how, have I never been here before? Apparently everyone else in the country is so familiar with this place that it’s general weirdness has totally worn off. All I want to do is make knowing eye contact with someone about how completely bizarre it is that a place like this exists in the world, and how we are all pretending it’s normal. It’s located at the border (or just south of) North and South Carolina, I suppose I’ve just never driven that far north.
I’m no prude, but the whole things seems pretty racially insensitive. Let’s start with this charming origin story.
I’ll save you some time and zoom in on the best bit.
So it seems that in the mid-fifties, this Schafer fellow partook in some borderline human trafficking then no one could be bothered to learn their actual names. They resorted to just calling them by two stereotypical Mexican names, but that proved too much so it was whittled down to one.
Of course, vaguely racists as it may be I’m pretty glad things worked out the way they did. Just look at this place.
South of the Border, or SOB as they’ve taken to calling themselves on lewd bumper stickers, is a large roadside tourist hub, minus the tourist. I’ve only been the once, but was really no one there, especially considering the advertising. Anyone that’s driven anywhere near North or South Carolina on I-95 has no doubt seen the informative, funny, and down right odd billboards every few feet for 100 miles in either direction. “Unused Bagels” was my personal favorite, though “you never ‘sausage’ a place” is a solid second.
Once inside, South of the Border is a complex of restaurants, carnival rides, oddly themed shops, and a motor hotel inexplicably referred to as “Pedro’s Pleasure Dome.”
There are 6 restaurants on the property. Of course I couldn’t try them all, but I did go to the Sombrero Restaurant, as that was the most ridiculous. The food is just okay, but then again it is a roadside attraction.
There are several stores, such as “Hats of the World”, and a weird store that sold expensive world antiquities. There is of course also a general gift shop for all of your South of the Border needs… like y2k champagne flutes.
Of course, the most impressive and perhaps only reason to stop at South of The Border is the amazing photo ops. Large unsupervised fiberglass animals in sombreros as far as the eye can see. It allows for a freedom that harkens back to the days when playgrounds could have jagged metal structures and no guard rails.
So as outdated and silly as it is, it’s definitely a must stop if you’re in the area. In fact, it’s pretty much the only thing in the area and the road signs are pretty insistent so if you’re in the area you’re likely to end up here whether you want to or not, so just embrace it.