Tag Archives: Ciudad Juarez

Big surprise in Juarez

Ok… I´m impressed at all of you out there who can keep secrets so well… Or maybe you just haven´t figured out how to post comments on the blog yet.

We just got off the phone with my mother. First of all we were totally shocked that she called and managed to get through to our hotel (although she did say it took 90 minutes). Second of all she was calling from El Paso, Texas!!! They were at our hotel this morning in Juarez trying to check in but apparently there were no rooms (thank goodness we made a reservation just two days ago!) and they didn´t know how long to wait for us so the went back across the border after about two hours. They did get to experience some classic Mexican driving though with buses cutting them off, police whizzing by in trucks and a guy in a rusty car U-turning across 6 lanes of traffic.

They are coming back across in the morning to have breakfast with me at the hotel buffet since Mex will already be gone for his interview. It will be fabulous to have them here and not be waiting by myself.

We won´t lie, this did dash our hopes of going to Vegas… But somehow, we don´t seem to mind.

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Filed under Family, Mexico

Ugh… here again

Neither of us are incredibly excited to get back to Juarez but it is almost comical how easy it seems to be driving in this city after the major crisis when we got here. I guess that´s what seven weeks of practice will do for you! And maybe because Mex was driving instead of me but don´t tell him I typed that! We saw the newspaper announce that crime is on the rise with 2000 car thefts and 200 murders in the months of February and March. Oh well… We feel safe in this hotel and don´t plan to leave for anything the rest of the day. We got a suite by the pool which is hopefully warmer than it was last time or we won´t be enjoying it too much. It is around 90 here so maybe a quick dip in a cold pool wouldn´t be so bad! We are optimistic and only got a room for one night. PRAY AND HOPE FOR US!

Chihuahua state totally reminds me of a western movie complete with scrubby dessert, dust devils, sandstorms and even tumbleweed blowing across the road. It´s amazing how much greener things have gotten since our trip down. The peach and pecan trees that line the highway in ranches are starting to get their leaves and the brush in the dessert is actually green. Farmers irrigate their crops although I can´t imagine there is enough water here to do that!

One thing I wish I had after three weeks without using the car AC is tinted windows. Whenever I saw a car with them in Florida I always joked about them being for pimps or drug dealers trying not to get recgnized but OH NO! EVERYONE should have them in Mexico! It doesn´t seem to matter what direction we are driving, there is sun beating in the window heating us up and having the windows down is no help. I did manage to get burned through the window a few times. I´ve burned and peeled so many times I´ll be a whole new person under my freckles by the time I get back.

We are both so excited to see everyone! We should be able to count the days on two hands until we are sleeping in our own beds (even if Mex gets his way and we detour for a day through Vegas).

Oh yeah… one piece of excitement for the trip today… As we were leaving Chihuahua city we got pulled over by a cop who told Mex the speed limit was 70 KPH NOT 70 MPH which he was going close too. He took Mex´s license which made both our hearts stop and told him he had to go back in the city to pay a fine before he could get it back. We stayed calm and Mex asked him if he could write down the directions for us because we had no idea where to go. At that time he must have decided it wasn´t worth it and he gave Mex´s license back and told us to slow down. The cops can take your license away from you (which we had been warned about by the nice RVing guy on our copper canyon train ride) but it still freaked us out.

Well I guess it wouldn´t be a proper road trip without the car trouble and cop action right? =) No harm done. Our car has a few small door dings now which makes me sad since it was six years old and in perfect condition but at least we will ALL leave in one piece! TOMORROW!

Hope and pray.

All our best to you as well and thank you for your support and wonderful thoughts.

Much love,
Min and Mex

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Filed under Chihuahua State, Mexico

Wind storm

That’s all to report for today. Seriously strong winds are howling outside of our hotel room. It’s insane! It sounds like we are in the middle of a tornado. The curtains are blowing even though the window is shut tight. We had dinner in our hotel tonight and talked with the waiter a little while. He’s from Puebla state which is right next to Mex’s state of Morelos. He said he came to Juarez to work because there was no money in Puebla so he’s trying to make some money here and then move back home. He also told us that since he’s been in Juarez he’s been robbed by the POLICE twice. They asked to see his identification and then took his whole wallet and pulled the money out. Great =(   He’s also been robbed by other people a couple of times. In my opinion (and Mex’s) things back home would have to be pretty desperate to move to this town. It was very sad for both of us to hear his story… Just one of millions and millions of stories in this country. How horrible to live in a place where you cannot trust the police. The very people who are there to protect you. I give the Mexican president a lot of credit for trying to clean up both the local police and federal police forces but the corruption is so deep and ongoing it seems like an impossible task. In Minnesota, I would never hesitate twice to call the police in an emergency or run up to a policeman on the street if I was in trouble. I really can’t fathom what it would be like to live in a place like Juarez.

Seriously, I don’t know how we are going to sleep with this wind howling! We can’t even hear the TV over the wind!

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Filed under Chihuahua State, Mexico

Lazy day

Delicious red and green chilaquiles

Sometimes we just wish we were kids again! This looked so fun.

 So today was pretty uneventful here in Ciudad Juarez. We decided to stick close to the hotel since we will have plenty of opportunity to see Mexican markets in other (i.e. SAFER) towns. Our hotel has an awesome breakfast buffet and it’s the first time we’ve seen anyone in the restaurant. It was $270 pesos ($23 US) for 2 of us which is pricey but seems equivalent to what you would pay in the US for a similar spread. We had a dish called chilaquiles for breakfast. Totally yummy but incredibly unhealthy I’m sure. It’s basically fried tortillas cut into wedges, soaked in green or red sauce until they are soft again and then sprinkled with cheese. Of course we also had omelettes and french toast (really, really good)!
After that we walked a block down the road to the Rio Grande Mall which is a fairly small mall, probably about the size of Northtown Mall in Minnesota. Seriously, sometimes it feels like we haven’t really left yet. The mall was complete with department stores carrying Tommy Hilfiger and any kind of perfume that you could want. There were even sunglasses huts and cell phone huts down the middle of the mall. We saw this super cool bungee thing for kids that looked like a blast. We grabbed a bite at the food court and had some semi-Mexican food.

Mex got a little tired so he took a break in a massage chair for five pesos (less than 50 cents) in the middle of the mall. We went back and tried to swim in the pool but it was absolutely frigid- Lake Superior cold. Then we tried to go in the hot tub but the water smelled really, really bad. So we ended up just sitting outside and enjoying the nice weather. For dinner we walked down the block and had Domino’s pizza. Exactly like in the States! That’s all for today!

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Filed under Chihuahua State, Food, Mexico

Doctor Exam

I spent the ENTIRE day in the hotel. My husband had the medical exam which is part of his visa process (I’ll let him type about that in a minute) and I spent the whole day waiting anxiously for him. It was terrible. I must say we are both so glad mom and dad talked us into staying here. I guess after 30 years you wise up and start listening to your parents again and it pays off. It is strange to think we were having lunch at a Chinese buffet with them just yesterday. Now I’ll let my husband tell his story…

“This morning at 6:30 I went down from my room to the main street to catch a cab going to the clinic for my examination that I’m going to present next week for my first visa interview. I went early because the information I had told me they stop letting new people into the clinic for exams at 11 am and I wanted to get a spot. So when I got out from the cab I thought there were not many people waiting in line (only about 50) until they let us inside a fenced area outside the clinic. Everyone had a number, then everyone was waiting for their number to be called. After that one of the workers called from 1 – 15, then the rest of us still were waiting for our turn. But in my mind I thought that it was going to be really easy to do my examination. The same worker came in and asked for 15 people to go to the other clinic (there are only two clinics in Juarez that are allowed to do exams for the US Consulate) because in that clinic they weren’t that busy. I was still waiting for my turn because I didn’t want to risk going to the other clinic and losing my spot. My number was 57. Then once again the worker came in and asked for 10 volunteers to go to the other clinic. Finally, it was my turn.

We were 15 people going inside the clinic. I was almost the last one. As soon as I stepped in I saw hundreds and hundreds of people who were already in before me. I probably say 500 -600 people at the clinic throughout the day. One guy from Wisconsin was there and he told me that I was “late” because people started getting in line at 3am. Then I realized I was totally wrong. My day was going to be one of the longest days. Think about not having any breakfast or lunch all day. That was all of us since we weren’t allowed to eat before the exam. Then I went to the front desk, showed my passport and my visa appointment letter, then they told me to wait until my turn. After a while a lady called my name, then I went to a small room where I showed my visa appointment letter, passport, signed my name and she took my pictures. After she took my information I went back to my seat.

I was so hungry that I started drinking lots of water. It was about 8:30. Then they called my name and I went to have a blood test. Then I went back to my seat and waited for my turn once again. But I went to the second level for my next turn where I waited for a while. Finally, a nurse called my name then took my chest x-rays and he told me to go back to the waiting room again.

About 12:30 I went to do my last test. They took my blood pressure, weight, height and then I went to the room where the nurse gave me a complete physical examination and three shots required to enter the US, MMR, Td, and Varicella. I brought my vaccine card from childhood but she said if they weren’t in the last 6 months they didn’t count. She also asked me a lot of questions, some medical ones like “Do you smoke?” “Do you do any drugs?” and some were kind of strange for a medical exam like “What kind of job to you have in the US?” “Have you been in jail?” The strangest was “Has cometido algunos delitos – Have you done any bad things here or in the US?” I thought that was a strange question for a medical exam. Then I was ready to go pay for the service that they had done. I had to pay in US dollars, $254 for the exam and vaccines. Also, they told me to come back for my results at 4 pm.

The ominous warning message on his very important medical results

Then I walked back to the hotel where my wife was waiting and really nervous. I was totally starving because it was 2 pm by then and I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. I ate and relaxed for a little while. Then it was time to go back again. It was pretty fast to get my results. They gave me a copy of my immunizations and then information in a sealed black envelope to give to the Consulate. If I open it they will not allow me to interview for my visa. I think they put the photos they took of me inside the envelope so they match my medical exam and the person doing my interview at the Consulate can tell it is me.

The one surprise is they told me I have to go on Monday to the Consulate to deliver the exam results instead of waiting for Tuesday for my interview. I don’t really understand why but I will do whatever they tell me. So it looks like I will be spending all day Monday and Tuesday at the US Consulate.”

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Filed under Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card

Around El Paso

Mom and Dad with Mex in the Franklin mountains outside of El Paso

On top of Scenic Drive in El Paso, Texas, overlooking Juarez, Mexico.

Here are a few tips for El Paso before I forget. The Scenic Drive is really nice. It curves around the south of the El Paso mountains and these pictures are all taken from there. Do NOT change money into pesos at the bank. Go to Melek’s service on the corner of Mesa & Paisano near downtown. We got 10.65 pesos per $1 there which was a peso better per dollar than the bank.
In between Mom and Mex’s heads you can sort of see the Mexican flag. The flag is 162 feet by 93 feet and it is called the “Megabandera” or “Giant Flag.” The flag pole sits in Chamizal Park, which is right across from the Bridge of the Americas, (the free driving bridge), and is 339 feet high and weighs 110 tons. That is 22,000 pounds! (Probably necessary to handle the hurricane force winds around here!) That is Juárez in the background after the little park on the right of Mex. We spent some time shopping and went to a few cowboy boot stores (we are in Texas, after all) but, really, I just don’t find them comfortable. Mostly, we just drove around the city completing errands. The information in our hotel said it was possible to get a driving pass from the Mexican Embassy but that is NOT true. We waited in line only to be told they stopped doing that the first of the year and you can only get passes in Mexico.

You can faintly see the cement canal that is the Rio Grande thru the middle of this picture.

There are multiple ways to cross into Juárez from El Paso… you can take a walking bridge or a round trip trolley or drive on four different roads. The tourist propaganda in our hotel makes Juárez sound a lot
better than all the stories I’ve heard.

I did try to fix the lens on my camera to get rid of these spots
after I downloaded the pictures and saw them. However, every time I zoom in to something I get these stupid spots. Bad timing to have a broken camera!

The view from Scenic Drive looks very pretty at night. As we pulled off to take in the view we clearly interrupted a couple who was sitting in the back seat of their car, “enjoying the view.” Oops!  You can kind of see the snake of lights through the city which marks the border. We did drive along the border highway and saw the fences… All three of them with barbed wire on top and paths in between them for the border patrol vehicles to go. Did I mention the millions of watts of floodlights pointing towards Mexico? Very, very interesting. There is a Border Patrol Museum here but we decided not to go. I can’t imagine what would be inside! I just imagine some kind of grotesque trophies of people caught or something. Ugh. (In hindsight and looking at their website it probably would have been interesting. I’d say “maybe next time” but I don’t think we will ever be visiting this area again).

For dinner we took a break from the steakhouse scene and went to Olive Garden for our “last supper.” We both figured we should load up on salad before crossing the border when fresh produce is one of the things which we are supposed to stay away from if we want to avoid stomach problems in Mexico.

View from Scenic Drive at night. All those lights are Ciudad Juarez

Well… on another note…  tomorrow we cross. We are both trying not to think of it. We’ve had a really good time with my parents and it has helped us relax which has been a blessing. They did talk us into staying in Juárez over the weekend instead of making the five hour drive to Chihuahua City and back before his interview. Even if we have to stay in the hotel all weekend it would be better than risking something happening to us so he couldn’t get to the interview that we’ve waited two years for. We will miss mom and dad and it will be very emotional to cross over the bridge tomorrow. However, we are confident that on the afternoon of April 17th (the day of his 2nd interview) we will be back again on this side of the river.

My next entry will be from Juárez, Mexico and I suppose in honor of the occasion it will be in Spanish (as long as my husband tells me what to type).

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Filed under Travel outside MN and Mexico, Travel Tips