Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Great Wall

The plan was to build a wall. But instead of a barrier, it was to be s a community-building project to run like the Great Wall of China for miles and miles, from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, through Laredo to Austin, Texas.

Walking along the first section past Laredo, Eloy Cavazos marvels,"These are truly unique." He was referring to what were billed as Flying Buttresses along the way, set every three miles (the wall was made for long hikes) as the rest stops occurred.

"Heh-heh," was B T Wright's reaction when he learned of the coment. "Reckon them buttresses been around since Roman times." The wall was passing through B T's land and he kept up with what was said in his neighborhood.

"I don't know where Mr - Wright, is it? - I don't know where he studied architecture (nowhere, is where; B T was born in the family ranchouse on them grounds and had not been out of pistol shot from it since) but they taught us at Autonoma the purpose of a Flying Buttress was to offset load, which these don't, thus they are unique in that regard."

He made his point, but some of the neighborly amity seeped out of the enterprise during the encounter. The general idea of the wall was leveling but the fact was not many of the Anglos took well to an old boy made a fool of by a Mexican, especially an educated Mexican.

It was not the first nor last time a thesis to be proved instead buttressed its antithesis, but logic and irony were even less understood on the lone prairie than architecture, so the wall continued.

It's complete now, the Wall. There was of course a ceremony. Instead of the proverbial year in Europe, recent grads might take up the three-month hike along the Great Wall. There are provisions at each rest stop, plus sleeping accommodations. The passports are checked on leaving Monterrey or Austin and not again until arrival at the other. (The way is elevated to fidty feet and so rather difficult to access from any point except for the two entries.)

A survey was taken at both the University of Texas at Austin and La Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey some ten years after the wall was finished. It was multiple choice, and the first question was, What was the purpose of the Great Wall. Of all the respondents, 12% had the right answer.

The next question was, Did the Wall achieve its purpose?

87% said yes.

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