Ciudad Juarez Stories and Tips

The Good and Bad of Juarez, Mexico

The outdoor restaurant we tried Photo, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

The town of Ciudad Juárez is just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. In fact, El Paso and Juarez were part of the same town until the 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo split the town in two along the Rio Grande.

The interesting thing is that you only need your driver’s license to get in and out of this part of Mexico. You do not need a passport if your stay is less than 72 hours and you do not travel past the 18-mile limit. It costs 50 cents to cross the bridge into Juarez and come back. It takes $4 to get you car into Juarez and back. I would advise against bringing your car in, as you may not be riding it on your return trip! People without bags are not questioned - if you do have bags, you are questioned, it seems. English is generally spoken, though Spanish is helpful. Taxis are available. You can use U.S. money. The border area is popular for food, clubs, bars, gambling, and shopping. Website: http://uscis.gov/graphics/fieldoffices/elpaso/poes.htm

The good: One if the best things about heading across the border is that there is some of the best Mexican food there. You will not find that cheap jarred processed guacamole here. The tacos, nachos, and mole are a treat to your taste buds. Mariachi bands may play while you eat. I ate a plate containing different Mexican food such as tacos and enchiladas.

Cheap Mexican beer, ‘Cerbeza mexicana,’ and places to party are other reasons to visit. I drank two of the local beers, Negro Modelo and Bohemia. The beers were OK, but not as good as a Corona with lime.

If shopping is your thing, there are some bargains to be had. If you are a good bargainer, you can get things quite cheaply. Knowledge of Spanish helps, in fact if you are of Spanish descent you will probably get a better price. While here, we headed to an indoor market which had many souvenirs. I tried on a sombrero for fun. What caught my eye was the Dia de los Muertos statues that were being sold. I had to have one. As I am not a good bargainer, I asked Roy to help me with the price. They started asking for $120, then $100, then $75. Roy got it finally for my price of $60. The market still sells candies with Mexican chili. Yes, these are the controversial candies which are banned in the States due to the fact that the chili contains lead. We walked around the market and picked up some Spanish mix tapes.

It is a place where you can catch Lucha libre or Mexican wrestling! It is too bad they only have shows on Sunday.

There are a few places to visit, such as the cathedral. The cathedral was built in 1945 and had to be rebuilt in 1975 due to a fire. Since 1957, the cathedral has been the seat of the Bishop of the Diocese and has been dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. The south side of the cathedral features a beautiful stained-glass window representing "the Grace of God in the salvation of Mexico through the Virgin of Guadalupe," as well as the miracle of the roses.

The bad: There are not many tourist attractions, and the city itself is smoggy. Once you travel across the bridge, you see many homeless who ask you for money.

It is one of the places where the maquiladoras, or sweatshops that NAFTA helped to create, thrive. At these sites, women workers are harassed, since they have no protection; some workers have even been murdered. See http://www.motherjones.com/news/mustreads/1999/07/070599.html

It is the site where over 300 Mexican women were killed or have disappeared and the people in charge were slow to act: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/895598023?ltl=1130606425

All in all, would I visit it again? The answer would be yes, but I would recommend traveling with friends.

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