by two cruisers
June 21, 2006
The second place our El Paso friends take visitors is Mexico. We did not need to show a passport or change our money at the border crossing since this was just a day trip. I would not have driven over on my own, but our friends were well acquainted Juarez. Our first observation driving streets near the Port of Entry bridge was…it looked like El Paso. Since NAFTA, American hotels and restaurants moved quickly over into Mexico.
Another observation is that the whole town was undergoing destruction and construction. Our goal was to visit an upscale new market. We found the building but it had already been abandon. Next stop the Old Market! Parking is at a premium and unofficial parking attendants would hold a spot for you and assist with directions to get you squeezed into an impossibly small spot. Of course they expect a reward and frankly it was worth it. A hardware store across the street from the market was a fun place to pick up souvenirs. In the market itself at first we just walked at a steady pace up and down the aisles. Clerks will follow you and try to lead you back to their booth. They know what things the Americanos like and call out to you, "Vanilla!", "tablecloth!", "necklace!"
We settled outside at a table and had drinks while we listened to a live band and watched the shop owners pursue tourists seated at tables. I ordered a Coca-Cola. It arrived in an old fashioned capped bottle that was opened at table side (they know we have heard the sanitation rumors). Mexican Coke is made from sugar instead of corn syrup so it does taste different. I did go back in to find a decorative plaque I had notice in our first walk through.
By being indecisive about which one I wanted the price fell and a plaid woven shopping bag was thrown in to the deal. Returning to El Paso our friends warned us to be very straight forward when asked where we were from. Just say America! Don’t say I’m visiting El Paso from Iowa. That can get you pulled out of line and into the "interrogation room". We behaved ourselves. The crossing into Mexico went quickly, but trying to enter the USA found us in a tightly packed holding pattern. Leave the air-conditioner on and the windows up as many adults and children go from car to car begging or offering to sell.
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