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The girl behind the counter told the woman that neither the cappuccino nor the latte contained sugar.

"Okay," the woman sighed, "I'll take the one that has less sugar."

"I can see why," Sedaris whispered, "the zoo has to put up signs warning people about hot bronze gorillas."

As we left the zoo, Sedaris said that in Paris the only thing he missed about living in America was being able to understand "banal conversations."

"Like the woman ordering coffee. That'd go right over my head in Paris. I miss that. 'Which is hotter? Which is sweeter?' Of course, I don't think you'd find many people in Paris who ask questions like 'Which kind of coffee is hotter?' "

Sedaris decided he wanted wrap up his visit to San Diego with a trip to Tijuana. That evening we walked across the border to Avenida Revolución, where every ten steps we were stopped by young men.

"You want titty? You want pussy?"

"Hey, dog, you want to party? I got pussy. 18, 19, 20 years old. You want pussy?"

"Hey, dog, check it out. You want pussy?"

"You want to party?"

Sedaris politely declined their offers. He said he was hungry, so we took a taxi to the Gran Hotel Tijuana. A convention of Mexican allergists thronged the lobby. Some were crowding into a symposium entitled "Emerging Allergies in the New Millennium." Others were eating and dancing at a party sponsored by a Mexican pharmaceutical company. A banner announcing a new sinus medication swayed high above the dance floor.

Peeking in, Sedaris observed, "We can definitely say Mexican allergists dance better than ours in America."

Our dinner at the Gran Bistro wasn't very good. The fried squid Sedaris ordered came floating in a pool of brown gravy. His prime rib, which he ordered rare, came well done. His baked potato was almost raw. A pianist played "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "Misty" while we picked at our food. Neither of us had dessert.

To get back to the border we took a collectivo, one of those taxis that travels a specific route and carries as many people as can fit in. Our collectivo was an old station wagon, and we sat in the seat at the very back. As our collectivo weaved erratically through traffic, Sedaris grew pensive.

"I've been to nine countries over the course of this past year: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Slovenia, Croatia, and now Mexico. On the whole, San Diego and Tijuana were a lot more pleasant than Croatia."

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