South of the Border billboard
Creative Commons/Photo by Joe Shlabotnik
South of the Border billboard

The big hype

Faith & Inspiration

About 170 miles from a roadside attraction called “South of the Border” I saw my first sign for it—a billboard with rainbow stripes made decades before such a symbol meant gay pride. I wondered why the owners would start advertising so far from the site. Must be a very famous place I haven’t heard of, I thought.

Many miles later down I-95, just as I had almost forgotten the first apparition, a second one appeared, of unmistakable color scheme and Mexican theme. Then, more miles and McDonald’s hamburgers later, yet another harbinger of the Mexican mecca assaulted our eyes. “This is going to be great!” I thought.

Subsequent billboards, each with a different come-on, cajoled and promised with puns: “Time for a Paws,” “Give Pedro the Business,” “You Never Sausage a Place,” “Whoa!” “The Sky’s the Limit,” “El Cheapo Fuel Stop,” “You Never Had it so Good.”

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Finally we were approaching! Just south of the border (of North Carolina), there it was: the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and Nirvana all rolled into one. But when I looked closer I saw a seedy-looking motel, gas stations, and a small amusement park that had seen its better days.

The online reviews were “mixed,” as they say. Most described a destination a few notches down from the hype:

“… Tacky, run down, not much open.”

“Stone statues … gag gifts … crazy hats … fireworks.”

“A good spot to get out of the car and stretch your legs.”

“A very slight smell of grease throughout.”

When the Holy Spirit describes the afterlife to us as “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4), do you think He understands Himself to be addressing people weary and jaded from all the world’s hype?

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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