12 Jan 2021
I've wanted a pet raccoon for a long, long time. I'm not 100% certain where it started. Maybe when someone sent me Pumpkin on Instagram back in 2014? That doesn't seem early enough though. This feels like a childhood desire. I didn't have any run-ins with raccoons, outside of the occasional trash party, growing up. But I have always loved those beautiful little trash pandas.
Last week, when a friend asked what my Good Place Pick-a-Pet would be, I instantly replied a raccoon. I just love their stupid beautiful faces, their little paws, and how they like eating and sleeping all day. Sneaking about and climbing things? My kind of buds.
For the first time in the 8 years that we've been together, my partner and I are living in an apartment that allows pets. She's allergic to cats and dogs, so our options for a pet are pretty limited. Poodles? Poodles. She's also convinced that we'd make great owners of a small capybara pod. Pride? Pack? I'm not sure of the correct multiple-capybara terminology. But I have a dream. A raccoon dream.
And it turns out, his name is Clyde.
Over the weekend, my partner made a joke about buying a capybara. I was still snoozy and I let my defenses down and I googled "capybaras for sale". Turns out they cost between two and three thousand dollars. And they're social animals, so you need to buy more than one.
That Google Search led me to a bummer of a website called Exotic Animals For Sale dot net. It's as much of a bummer as you'd expect. But while I was on it, I thought, "Hey, let's look for a raccoon. How much do raccoons cost? Can't be more than three thousand dollars."
Male Raccoon. 1 year old. Need to rehome him due to living arrangements. I don't want him to be killed or let go in the wild. I have had him since he was 3 days old and I am looking for someone that will care for him and give him a safe home. He would not survive in the wild. He is not neutered. He needs some TLC. He is my baby.
This is really hard for me to do but I have to do it.
First of all, what kind of asshole buys a raccoon to kill it and/or release a domesticated animal back into the wild? I hate our species so much. Second of all, oh my god look at his stupid face he likes tummy rubs he'd hold paws with me my heart has exploded into a million pieces.
You can't put a price on love, but you can put a price on Clyde and it's somehow only $100. I'd give anything for Clyde, let alone a hundred bucks. The only problem is Clyde is in Nevada. Which is not anywhere near the Yucatan.
Let's Make Some Assumptions
Assumption #1 — Flying with a raccoon is going to be next to impossible. Especially with the Big Three Airlines just, correctly, banning emotional support animals. Beyond that, I don't think meeting our new lifelong bud and then immediately putting him in a terrifying crate and a dark, cold airplane cargo hold for 5-8 hours is going to be getting off on the right foot. Nothing destabilizes a relationship quite like foundational trauma, you know? Plus I don't think we'd have the correct paperwork to get him through customs in Cancun. Which leads us to...
Assumption #2 — Getting Clyde across the border is going to be rough. We'll need him to be quiet and invisible. I don't know if that's an unrealistic expectation for our new pet. I haven't owned a raccoon before. Maybe it'll be like a dog and we can just give Clyde a spoonful of peanut butter and it'll shut him up for hours.
Assumption #3 — No rental car agency is going to let us rent a car in America and take it on a one way trip to Mexico.
Assumption #4 — The fine for getting caught smuggling a raccoon into Mexico has got to be... more than $100USD? I don't know. Who knows if it's even smuggling? Can you smuggle that beautiful of a face?
All these things point to one thing — what? No. Not giving up. It just means a complicated road trip.
Operation Dreams Do Come True
Leg One — A Flight
My partner and I are taking the last week of January off for Birthday Week. (Both of our birthdays are during the last week of January. It rules.) What better gift could we give ourselves than blowing off our relaxing staycation and adopting a raccoon named Clyde? So we have January 22nd until February 1st to get this bud in Nevada and get back to our home in Mexico.
The first step for getting Clyde is getting on a plane. Since we don't know where Clyde is in Nevada, and we're road tripping back, the best course of action is to go for the closest direct flight from Cancun. Adding a layover adds more risk of Covid exposure and more time around people we don't trust.
Which leads us to Cancun to Salt Lake City, UT on January 22. $379/each, so we're sitting at $758.
We'll need to rent a car once we land in SLC. Like my father before me, I rent from Hertz. I mean, it's not a family heirloom or anything like that, they just treat me nice because I had a bunch of miles once.
Let's just round that up to an even $1,000. Okay. $1,758. To be clear, this rental car is only for a week.
(Why not a cheaper, compact car? Well. I want to give Clyde the room to chill in the car. Also a SUV feels like it's more likely to have damage already done to the interior, which means if Clyde does anything, we can try to pass it off as previously there.)
A close friend, and Team Taco Member™, lives in SLC. So we'll stay the night at their place, and get an early start the next morning for Clyde. Thanks for the room, Jessa.
Leg Two — An American Road Trip
January 23 — SLC to Carson City, Nevada
Why do I think Clyde is in Carson City, Nevada? Well, there are forests and stuff there. But really, I'd just like that to be true because I've never been to Lake Tahoe, and this seems like a great chance to go. Maybe meet up with my favorite internet corgi, Arrow, for a walk? I don't know.
We get Clyde tonight. It's a celebration. He and Arrow become best buds. We become best buds.
The Biltmore is $99. Dope. $1857. I've never stayed at a Biltmore but it registers as fancy in my brain.
January 24 & 25 — Lake Tahoe & Yosemite
I've never been to Yosemite either! I imagine a day is exactly enough time to pretend like I've seen it now. Just a drive, a hang, a bottle of wine by the massive windows at Yosemite Valley Lodge with our new raccoon. What more could a man need.
(I don't think any of these places have pet policies — and if they do, they certainly don't allow raccoons. The plan is to sneak Clyde in via a duffel bag after we already check in.)
$2078. This is fine.
January 26 — Happy Birthday, Love!
To celebrate my partner's birthday, we're spending it in a car driving to the Grand Canyon. Maybe we'll find an Impossible Burger along the way? Who knows. Worse case scenario is I buy a set of birthday Cinnamon Twists from Taco Bell.
Clyde will almost certainly ruin the birthday sex we're going to try and have at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.
January 27 — To The In-Laws We Go, I Guess
Well, since we're here, let's drive to Tucson so my partner can see her parents. I have a Twitter friend there who likes drinking too much. I'll get drunk on his patio. My partner can get drunk while trying to talk to her parents about why Joe Biden sucks, but not for the reasons they think he does. She'll have a terrible time, but Clyde will keep her company.
We're drunkly sleeping somewhere, somehow, without paying for it. Holding steady at $2191. Shit. I forgot to include the $100 for Clyde. Okay. $2291.
January 28 — Marfa Lights Anyone?
My partner has never been to Marfa. If we're going to go all the way to Marfa, we're going to stay at the Hipster Nonsense that is El Cosmico. Clyde is going to love the trailer.
$2,471. But it's fine. Because it's almost my birthday and I own a raccoon.
January 29 — ATX or Bust!
The final leg of our American Road Trip gets us to my best friend's house in Austin. We return the car. We have a raccoon named Clyde. We're halfway home. We're almost out of time to get home. This is going great.
We spend $29 on a Torchy's Take Out order. $2,500.
January 30 & 31 — Birthday Hangs
Listen, I understand that it looks bad that for my partner's birthday we were in a car driving from one pretty location to another through a desert eating Taco Bell and that for my birthday, we're with my best friend and family. You're forgetting the most important part though — we still have a raccoon named Clyde.
Leg Three — A Mexican Road Trip
This is the hardest part of Operation Dreams Do Come True. As previously stated, we're not going to be able to drive a rental car from America on a one-way trip to Mexico. So to recap where we're at right now — we don't have a car, we're out of vacation days, we have a raccoon that we need to get illegally across the border, and we're probably pretty exhausted by this point. I imagine Clyde is being a bit of a dick, what with living in a car for days and not being the entire center of my attention because I've had to be driving.
But I have a solution for all of this.
What's the solution? Great question, thanks for asking. I'm going to convince my best friend to drive us to Tulum. As the first member of Team Taco™, I'm sure he's committed to getting me back to Mexico and back on track for 2021. Plus, how could he say no to Clyde's face? Or my face?
Yes, there are a few complications with this plan. Such as: he has a full-time job, our children are people he's still responsible for, one of them has cancer, his partner can't come with us (more on that in a moment, sorry T-Bear), and like... driving from Austin to Tulum probably isn't great? I don't know. This is an adventure we're on together.
We have another constraint — he has a Tesla. Which makes the limit of how far we can go limited to like 300 miles a day before we need to charge the car. And Superchargers don't really exist outside of the States, so we'll need to stay at hotels with charging ports and make sure we stay long enough that the car can be charged overnight to 100%. Oh, and he may not want a raccoon in his car? I don't know. I've met the guy — he's pretty chill.
If I'm being honest, by this point I think Clyde has adapted to the road trip life and is being cool as hell and likes riding on the driver's shoulder for hours at a time? So I don't think the whole raccoon-in-a-Tesla thing is going to be a problem.
Since it's a Tesla, I'm pretty sure my best friend won't let me drive it. But like, it'll drive itself! Kinda! But that just means I'm DJ'ing this leg of the trip, which frees me up to work while hot-spotting from the passenger seat. Dope. Vacation Days problem solved.
February 1 — To Mexico!
Smuggling Clyde into Mexico. Getting INTO the US from Mexico with a raccoon would be dreadful. But getting into Mexico with a raccoon? That seems achievable. There are a couple of moves that we're going to try and succeed with.
#1 — Just gonna give him peanut butter like a pup and see what happens. If we do it in the back of the Tesla, he should be able to hide in a compartment or something? It's a battery-powered car. There's supposed to be more space for stuff like this.
#2 — So this is why his partner can't come with us: we're using the NEXUS lane. All three of us have Global Entry, which allows you to use the NEXUS lane if everyone in the car has Global Entry. Who doesn't have Global Entry in the car? Well, Clyde. But he's a raccoon. We can't fault that. Annnnnd my best friend's partner.
#3 — Another spoonful of peanut butter.
#4 — This one is the most consequential and one we have the least control over. We're white and will look wealthy because we're in a Tesla. We're set.
And now we're in Mexico! With our raccoon!
$60USD for a suite. Solid. $2560.
February 2-8 — To Tulum!
Listen, I'm just planning on winging this part of the trip. It's going to be based on how far the car will be able to go, how much patience Clyde has, and so on. So let's just set some guesstimates and call it good.
$100/day for food and lodging. Based on the $60/night in Laredo, I feel comfortable with that. So $800USD on top of the $2,560 and we're rolling in Tulum 4,600 miles later at $3,360.
We'll need to buy gas for the first 2,500 miles for the American Leg of the trip that I completely forgot about until now. Let's just call it another even $100/day. So $4,060. Couple hundred bucks for food. $4,300.
February 9 — Partner Party
Well, okay, so now we're home with Clyde and my best friend, but his partner isn't here. As a thank you for driving us across a continent, it only seems fair to bring her in from Austin. Then he'll have company when he drives back to Austin! Perfect.
(Sorry for the bad flight times.)
To celebrate the successful smuggling for Clyde into Mexico, we'll take them out for dinner to our favorite restaurant. The last time we went as a group, it cost ~$400.
Bringing the total cost of getting Clyde, the $100 beauty of a bud from Nevada, to $4,998.
Happy Birthday to us.
I've written about my anxiety in the past.
It was the first time in my life that I had an expectation for the future and it didn’t go as planned. Which, for me, is the root of my anxiety. I’m a planner. I plan.
Through that experience, I discovered a nice coping mechanism for me to slow down. Sometimes, when things get out of control, I like to make a plan. Like a plan for adopting a raccoon named Clyde. It's a nice way to feel a bit of control, even when you don't have any.
Are we really going to adopt a raccoon? Yes. Is it going to be Clyde? No. But planning out how to get him slowed me down and gave me something to focus on that wasn't, well, everything else.
Maybe it'll help you when you need to slow down.
This has been an extended "Choose Your Own Report" edition of Taco Report. You can return to the original report or select the other option. If you aren't already a member, you can join Team Taco™ today. It's two bucks a month and I file a new report every Tuesday.