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Monday March 19, 2001

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The Lessons We Learn

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By Jessica Lee

My truck was stolen over spring break. Yes, mi coche es su coche. Laugh if you want, because I too was one of the innocent and ignorant Americans who was sucked into the drunken mania of Rocky Point.

Out of nothing but tradition, March 10-18 was marked on all our calendars as a break from the dullness of school.

I wasn't the only one who had to face an unfortunate circumstance, however. The death of a UA student should make us think realistically about indulging in spring break wildness. And, we all should feel really fortunate to be back.

Puerto Peľasco, Sonora was the destination (aka Rocky Point by us American gringos). It is a medium-sized Mexican town that has been slammed by a hurricane of U.S. tourism in the last decade or so. New resorts and condominiums scatter the beaches and hill sides.

For spring break, it is the place to be.

I, along with thousands of other college students, packed my bags, turned in my last papers, hopped into my tan 1986 Toyota with a camper shell and took off for the border.

We must all wonder at some point in our college careers how this one week in March can turn into such craziness. Besides the beach, there is only one thing really different between Tucson and "the new Cancun." For nine days, college students suddenly claim a new freedom. If you are over 18, but under 21, you now qualify to be part of the demographic of dumb, pathetic, college idiots.

You can now walk into a bar and order a small rum and Coke for $3.

Hooray? American drinking laws have led to this great freedom that all UA students can now take advantage of in Rocky Point.

So, there we were. My two best friends and I decided to spend our last night at the local favorite bar, Margarita Villa, where from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., shots for a quarter appeal to us college kids.

We arrived at the cantina around 9 p.m. and parked in the designated parking lot underneath bright streetlights. Nothing could go wrong.

Once 1 a.m. rolled around and the house of all-night karaoke was ready to shut down, one thing in my life disappeared. Yep, the lot was empty and my baby truck was gone.

Sometime in the few hours of drunken debauchery, some ol' Jose took off with my ride.

While waiting around until 2 a.m. for the female bartenders to shut the place down, I further embarrassed myself by crying on some strange guy's shoulder. I was lost in a strange town, surrounded by a semi-foreign language, and for one of the first times in my life, I was having to put my trust in strangers.

The owner of the bar took me down to the local policia, where the bartenders agreed to translate my story to the Mexican police.

The station was a chaotic scene filled with an ambulance, sobbing sorority girls and old police cars.

I recounted my story to the Mexican lady who repeated it to the reporter, then from the reporter to the Mexican lady, then back to me.

I learned my first lesson of the night. The only way to communicate the color tan in Spanish is by using the phrase, "color de cafe con mucho leche." The truck I loved was now the color of coffee with a lot of milk.

Yet, while I was worried about my truck being found somewhere near the border stripped of its parts, I could hear my peers trying to calm themselves out in the hall. Although my wheels had been stolen, it suddenly didn't seem very important.

The second lesson I learned was that my truck was nothing but a huge chunk of metal. Nothing but a material object that can easily be replaced.

Later that night I heard about a car accident.

Yesterday I read the headlines in the Wildcat. One of us UA-ers didn't return in any vehicle.

And suddenly I was really sad and really grateful.

Now that we have made it through spring break, we need to reflect on what exactly turns that week of March into a time when we are willing to risk everything just to have some fun.

We must be ready for the consequences of such a perilous vacation. I might have lost my truck from the lure for adventure. But, I don't care.

I still have my life. And that is worth much more.