Tag Archives: travel in Mexico

Tlaxcala is cool… literally

Last Monday (17th) we took a side trip to a small town called Ayometla in Tlaxcala state where Mex’s brother-in-law is from (Sofia’s husband). We drove thru Puebla city and had some great views of the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico’s 2nd and 3rd highest peaks. The drive was only a little over an hour on the toll road and the city of Puebla seems like the nicest large city we’ve been in. All the roads were well-marked and the areas we saw on the south side were very clean. There are lots of modern malls there. We did not have time to go downtown and see the plaza (zócalo as they call any city’s central plaza.

We had lunch with his brother-in-law Jose’s family and it was tasty; these gordita looking things that had a very hard name I can never remember, bean tamales and wonderful green salsa. They

Parroquia de San Jose - Tlaxcala

had this sauna-type structure that looked like a cement igloo. We did not go inside because I can’t imagine the need to add extra heat to yourself here. It was also in the pig pen so I was unsure exactly what would be inside. Tlaxcala state is higher in the mountains than Mex’s town and it was probably at least 10 degrees cooler there. A very welcome relief since Saturday and Sunday (15th & 16th) were at least 95 degrees with little shade and no AC.

Palacio del Gobierno on Plaza de la Constitution - Tlaxcala

After lunch we drove about 45 minutes north to Tlaxcala City which is fairly small for “big city” standards at around 90,000 people. Most of the city is in a valley and very near the volcano La Malinche. Just to the northwest side of the zócalo, called Plaza de la Constitución, is the pinkish orange stucco and brick  Parroquia de San José with many fountains in front.  The zócalo, is surrounded by 16th-century buildings with very European architecture. These include the Palacio Minicipal and Palacio de Gobierno on the north side, and the Palacio de Justicia on the north-west side. If you look around the doorway you can see a two-headed eagle, the seal of the Hapsburg monarchs who ruled Spain while these buildings were being built.

Pottery and Crafts for sale in Tlaxcala

Capilla Abierta - Tlaxcala

We were there with our nephew Ernesto, Mex’s sister Sofia and her sister-in-law, Carmella. We took a short walk around the Plaza Xicohtencatl, which adjoins the zócalo, looking at the talvera pottery, hand-woven rugs, and other items in the perpetual craft market. We walked past a chapel (Capilla Abierta) with three Moorish style arches and a 19th-century bull ring. We walked past a former monastery called the Ex-Convento Franciscano de la Asunción, and the Museo Regional de Tlaxcala, both of which I would have loved to enter, but Mex’s family is not in to “tourist” spots. Then we wound through the streets pausing for Sofia to look in furniture shops

Old Plaza de Toros next to Capilla Abierta

finally, climbing the 300 stairs back up to the car. There are fountains all the way down the center of the stair case but unfortunately they were turned off for cleaning.

One thing Tlaxcala city has a lot of... stairs!

After a quick stop at a market we made our way back to Ayometla where they generously fed us another meal before our trip home. Unfortunately we got a little lost going through Puebla city but we ended up getting out of the city limits before dark. We had to drive the hour back to his town in the dark but we made it all right.

I would definitely recommend Tlaxcala City as worth a trip from either Puebla or Mexico City. It has a “small town” feel compared to either of those two and lots of interesting architecture.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Holidays and Celebrations, Mexican culture, Mexico, Tlaxcala State

Family photos

Gaby and Deysi

Ernesto (Neto)

This is Ernesto, who is Filogonia’s son. He is 19 and going to college studying plant biology (from what I can gather from the Spanish). He lives in the house where we are staying and has gone with us to the Feria (street market) and to Tlaxcala. He’s very quiet most of the time but has a great laugh.

Gaby is Filogonia’s daughter and she is 16 or 17, I can’t remember. She lives in the house we are staying in too. Deysi is on the right and she is our niece who came to Minnesota for our wedding. She is the daugher of  Macrena who died of cancer this past December.

Parents when they were around 20. Constancia and Hilario

This is a picture of my mother and father-in-law that I had refinished.  Constancia, died of a heart problem when my husband was 14. It was a life changing event for his whole family and was the turning point for his own future.

Andrea (Abelina) and Santos

My sister-in-law, Andrea (Abelina is her nickname) and her husband Santos. This picture is taken in front of the house of their son, Jorge (which is right next door to their house). There are 4 homes on their lot… theirs and one that each of their 3 sons has built. We call it a hotelria.

My husband with his dad, Hilario, who has been smiling for the last month since hearing his son was coming home (the last time he saw one of his sons was over seven years ago). He was waiting outside the gate of the house when we showed up at 8 at night. He doesn’t speak much but he always laughs and smiles and you can see how happy he is to have one of his sons home (all of the four live in MN).

Ely, Sofia, Abelina, Filo with their dad, Hilario

These are the four sisters that live in Tetelilla – The has three other sisters; one lives in a town an hour away, one passed away four months ago, and one died in childhood. Elizabeth (Ely) and Filogonia (Filo) live with his dad.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Mexico, Tetelilla, Morelos

Patzcuaro… Story-style

Here is a more “creative” version of our time in Pátzcuaro.

Our car jostled down the narrow cobblestone street, flanked on either side by two-story, white-washed adobe walls with red doors and overhanging red tile roofs. As we looked at these 400-year-old haciendas with wrought iron balconies and open, inviting patios, we felt the anxiety of the last fifteen days ease out of our tired bodies.

“This is what I thought Mexico would look like,” I exclaimed excitedly.

My husband shrugged and asked me which way he should turn.

Squinting out the dusty car window, I frantically searched the building walls for any kind of street sign that could help me fulfill my duty as navigator. Unable to stop on the narrow street, I saw Mex’s forehead start to wrinkle impatiently. “Izquierda,” I shouted, having no idea where we were on the map. He swerved to the left and the towering 200-year-old ash and elms of Plaza Vasco de Quirago, more commonly called Plaza Grande, came in to view. “Thank goodness,” I thought. I had guessed the correct direction.

After circling the plaza three times in search of our hotel, the crisp uniformity of the buildings in Pátzcuaro became slightly less charming and a little more frustrating. Once the homes of the areas rich land holders, these beautiful haciendas are now restaurants, shops and hotels. Finally, we saw a small circular sign on the sidewalk proclaiming Hotel Misión San Manuel and darted in to the last parking space.

Walking through the grandiose archway, we felt like we were entering a realm of spa treatments and luxury linens. Then, remembering we were only paying $40 a night, we reined in our expectations. The petite woman behind the desk handed us our keys and we toted our suitcases up two flights of cement stairs. Buttery yellow walls, 20-foot archways with pale stone pillars and orange floors seemed to glow in the afternoon light. The central courtyard, which would have been open in the 1700s when the home was built, was now covered by an elevated sheet of Plexiglas allowing air and light but not rain to enter. The iron railings were punctuated with terracotta pots filled with draping plants and flowers.

After putting the suitcases in our quaint, beautifully tiled room, we walked around Plaza Grande looking for souvenirs. In 1536, Bishop Vasco de Quirago arrived in this region of southwestern Mexico to help the Purépecha Indians recover from the blight of Spanish conquistadors. Some say that in order to reduce competition and create proficiency and economic stability, Quirago taught each village surrounding Lake Pátzcuaro to specialize in a different craft. Those specialties can still be found in the shops around the plaza, almost 500 years later. We passed shops displaying delicate lacquer boxes with designs so intricate they seemed to have been painted by elves, and painted pottery with electric blues, pinks and greens. We ducked through a doorway and into a small courtyard circled by copper pots of all different sizes, straw sculptures of people and animals, and hundreds of skull and skeletal figurines, which seemed to call us back for November’s Day of the Dead celebration.

Exhausted from shopping and driving over endless speed bumps, or topes as they are called, we were lured in to a café by the smell of ground coffee and fresh pastries. Seated under the shade of the towering trees, we watched the uniformed school children play in the plaza. Ordering two iced mochas and, at the last moment, a slice of strawberry cheesecake, we felt like we were back in Minnesota living our normal lives. Putting aside itineraries, budgets and travel worries, we relaxed and begin to sketch a menu for the restaurant we hope to own one day.

Waking up the next morning, the peacefulness of Pátzcuaro was forgotten and the ticking of my watch seemed to echo off every stone wall in our room.

 “What do I wear?” I said anxiously. Nothing in my suitcase looked appropriate. Had I not thought of this until now? After six years together I was finally meeting his father and five sisters and with only one chance to make a first impression, I needed to get it right. My stomach wrenched.

“Anything,” Mex said. “They all look nice.”

“This is no time to try and score brownie points,” I sputtered. “I need help! My hair looks terrible.”

Seeing that there was no right answer, and clearly a lot of wrong ones, he chose to turn his attention to refolding clothes in the suitcase. Looking at my husband’s face I saw his cinnamon skin wrinkled in thought. Remembering that this day was his, a return to his father’s house after 13 years in the US, I grabbed my green travel pants and pink striped shirt and hurriedly put them on. With a quick hug, I said, “Let’s go, olorosito. I’m tired of travelling.” 

As our car left the shadowy canopy of Pátzcuaro and returned to the sun-drenched highway of Michoacán, I squeezed his hand, looked at my map and pointed east, counting the miles until we would arrive home.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mexico, Michoacan State

We are In "Hot Water"

Standing on Plaza Monumental right in front of our hotel, the Fiesta Americana

Here we are in Aguascalientes city or “Hot Water.” Our hotel, the Fiesta Americana, is on a very nice pedestrian street called Plaza Monumental so we were able to walk around a lot. Unfortunately, I was very sick yesterday (Monday) when we got here so we only walked around a little while. However, we liked the city so much we decided to stay an extra day. We also sprung for a much nicer hotel than was in our budget (about $170 a night). After the very cheap 12-hour stay at the auto hotel and, consequently, the 12 hours of intestinal issues, I wanted to be spoiled. We did have some trouble when checking out with mysterious charges for food items we never ate out of the room fridge and the “free” breakfast that wasn’t free. My husband was very upset and won’t stay there again.

Catedral with pigeons in downtown Aguascalientes

The main cathedral is on the west side of Plaza de la Patria in the center of Aguascalientes. There are at least five cathedrals in the central area. The inside of the main cathedral had gold leaf all over the ceiling and paintings everywhere. There is a very elaborate altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe in all of the churches here (the one in this cathedral is by Miguel Cabrera, one of Mexico’s finest artists). That is really the only main difference from cathedrals I have seen in Europe. This is all pretty new to my husband too since his family, though Catholics, never traveled to see any of Mexico’s beautiful cathedrals. I felt too guilty to snap a picture of the inside of this cathedral since there were so many people kneeling and praying and there was even a priest taking confessions. A novelty for this Lutheran girl!

Old train station - Aguascalientes

This is the “old” train station we saw on our bus tour. It was built around 1910 which makes it fairly ‘young” in a 400-year-old city. The translations got blurred together so I’m a little fuzzy on some details. My husband had a hard time keeping up with the tour guide. There is a park area and museum around here but we did not go in since it was far from where our hotel was and we did not want to take any taxis.

We walked around more this morning and sat at a cafe by the main plaza having smoothies and people watching. The Palacio Federal was very pretty inside with arches and murals.

Inside the Palacio de Gobierno - Aguascalientes

We found very nice buildings here and the city seems very safe. The streets are very skinny and tough to drive through but all has been well so far. No crashes! Most of the buildings have open plaza areas with some cloth or plastic stretched over part of the roof making the edges like giant skylights. There are bright colors and tons of natural light everywhere.

Restaurant we had lunch at - Loved, loved, loved the open feeling and instead of chips we had cucumber, jicama and mango spears with chile powder and lime. Delicious!

We saw a tortilleria where they were making the tortillas from scratch and a nice bakery near where we had lunch. We also walked around at night a little on Tuesday and got some elotes… For those of you who have gone with to 5 de Mayo in St. Paul you know what those are…. Sweet corn grilled with either cream or mayo smeared on it then sprinkled with cotija cheese and you can add lime, salt and chile powder to it. YUMMY! Then we walked over to the Cathedral of San Marcos which is at the end of the plaza by our hotel. It was like a carnival with food vendors and a little lawn mower pulling train cars for the kids to ride it and fountains that weren’t going during the day. It was fun to see all the people out.

Iglesia (Church) of San Marcos

None of the food stalls had any meat except pork or tripe (cow stomach) so Mex got a huge wedge of Jicama on a stick (and I mean HUGE) and I got an entire mango sprinkled with lime and salt. It was the perfect ripeness and very delicious. Then of course we had to finish off with some churros. There were stuffed churros though which I had never seen before so I got a chocolate one and Mex got a strawberry one. Fabulous! We are looking forward to more street corn but usually won’t buy the fruit. We only bought it from that vendor because she put the stick in it before peeling it so it seemed cleaner.
Aguascalientes is one of the states that is in the middle of the country. The city’s biggest event is the 22 day La Feria de San Marcos, celebrated in late April and early May each year.

One very interesting story we learned on our bus tour seems very typical of the “legendary Mexican passion.” It is the story of how Aguascalientes became a state (it is a state AND a city). In 1853, there was a party for the “rich and famous” of Aguascalientes city and the president of Mexico was in attendance. Apparently, there was a woman there who was very rich and powerful and also very, very beautiful. The president, Santa Anna (yes, the same one that lost half of Mexico’s territory to the US) was asking her for a kiss and she kept refusing saying that her husband was watching her. Then he asked her to dance and she accepted. While they were dancing he kept asking her for one kiss and she said that she would give him a kiss on his cheek only if he gave her what she wanted… for Aguascalientes to become a state of its own. He finally said “yes” and she stopped the music and announced that she was now going to give the president a kiss on his cheek because he agreed to make Aguascalientes a state. She then kissed him and everyone cheered and within months a new Mexican state was born. Seriously? For a kiss on the cheek? She must have been incredibly beautiful! I tried to convince my husband that our life should work that way… One kiss on the cheek and he will do whatever I want… Sadly, he said things do not work that way any more. *Big sigh*

2 Comments

Filed under Aguascalientes State, Mexico

Copper Canyon – Barranca del Cobre

The courtyard of our El Fuerte inn, the Posada Don Porfirio

Here is a slightly out of order narrative of our Copper Canyon trip with some scattered advice. And, yes, it has a well-deserved place on the 1000 Places list!

We got on the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico train in Cuauhtémoc and took it through the canyon for 11 hours to El Fuerte. A couple of notes… you can not buy tickets at the Cuauhtémoc train station (at least not when we were there) so you have to either get on in Chihuahua (or Los Mochis on the west) or risk that you won’t get a seat. There was plenty of room on the train but, during the busy season there might not be. We paid on the train and the conductor “forgot” to bring us change but my Spanish-speaking hubby tracked him down and got it. Tickets are not cheap. It cost us about $200 US to go from Cuauhtémoc to El Fuerte and $130 US from El Fuerte to Creel. When going East sit on the Right side of the train. When going West sit on the Left side of the train for the best views.

About an hour east of El Fuerte the train starts to cross rivers for some breath-taking views (and really high bridges)

The El Fuerte train station is about a mile outside of town so we got in a taxi with two other tourists. We arrived after dark. It was a little nerve-wracking because as we were driving past a corn field some guy stepped out of a corn field and tried to flag down our taxi. I could tell the taxi driver was nervous as he swerved and sped around him. That put both of us on edge right away. In El Fuerte, we spent the night in a 200-year-old hacienda called Posada Don Porfirio, which cost about $400 pesos ($38 US). The room was nice with a private bathroom and very high ceilings – about 14 feet – giving it an open feeling. We arrived late at night so felt a little uneasy about the group of men huddled in the courtyard but when we awoke the next morning and the owner gave us a tour of the beautiful gardens, we realized it was just nerves. (We asked some of the passengers on our train where they stayed and they recommended Hotel La Choza, El Fuerte and the Rio Vista Lodge. We had called some of these places and they were full… probably booked up by these tour groups. The Posada San Francisco looked nice on the outside when we drove by.)

Overall the train ride was very, very scenic. We met lots of really nice people. Mainly Americans in their 60s and 70s on tour groups. The train went through a lot of very little towns and farm fields at the beginning, as we worked our way west. There are lots of apple orchards around Cuauhtémoc but most have black fences that unroll over the tree tops to prevent them from being scorched by the sun. We saw barely any clouds the entire time. The first stop of the train where a lot of people get on is a small town called Creel. It turns out we could have driven there if we wanted to because the road has asphalt the entire way.  That is the town where a lot of backpackers get off and it is possible to hire guides and go on treks in the canyon. We read that you should never go hiking without a guide because the mountains are actively used for drug smuggling. If you are adventurous, take a small bus down 4500 feet to Batopilas, a little mining town at the bottom of the canyon on the river. There are quite a few hostel-type hotels and all the “young” people seemed to congregate here.

View of Copper Canyon from Divisadero, the only stop the train makes in the entire 11 hour journey.

Copper Canyon, in Divisadero

The second day, on our way back through the canyon, we did get off in Creel and went into the canyon to a hotel called the Copper Canyon Sierra Lodge in Cusásare for about $185 US a night.  It is a fairly nauseating, twisty, 30 minute van ride to the lodge. If you get easily car sick, beware! The lodge had no electricity and was lit by kerosene lamps and heated by a little wood stove which was definitely not powerful enough. Luckily, the bed had about 10 blankets. It was charming in a rustic sort of way. The only downside was the lamps put off a very, very strong gas odor that made me want to open the

A fuzzy picture of our room at the Copper Canyon Sierra Lodge

window despite the frigid temperature. All our meals were included (because you are in the middle of nowhere and have no other food option). Since the train was late, we did not get down in the canyon until about 6 and 6:30 was “margarita time.” There was a group of mountain biker guys who had gotten some local moonshine from down in the canyon that they shared with us. They were super friendly and fun to chat with. Needless to say, a little moonshine and a few margaritas later I had my head in the toilet for about three hours. We were at about 7000 feet and I guess I miscalculated the elevation in relation to the effect of alcohol. Although Mex had almost as much

Electric-free Copper Canyon Sierra Lodge (American-owned by the way) down in the canyon

as me and felt nothing so it may have been the beef I ate that he skipped. It was very sad because that meant I felt like crap the next morning when we had a chance to hike to the nearby waterfall. My husband was very wonderful and not upset at all. He did have fun trying out some of the bikers multi-thousand dollar bikes. In the morning, there were a handful of Tarahumara Indian women sitting on the steps right outside our door selling their baskets but they were not pushy at all. We got back up to Creel about 2 pm and ended up taking the bus back to Cuauhtémoc because it left earlier than the train (and cost less).

Street vendor right next to the train stop. Take a bite! The chiles rellenos were fabulous! We didnt get any stomach sickness from this street food.

A couple more notes… In Divisadero, the train stops for 15 minutes. Jump off and go down the street/stairs in between the vendor stalls to get to the edge of the canyon. Do NOT go up the stairs if you want to get to the edge of the canyon. You will get a not-so-great view for a picture and waste valuable minutes backtracking to get to the edge.  There is a hotel right on the edge (literally) where I would love to spend the night if we ever go again. We grabbed some food from one of the vendors. I had tacos and Mex had chiles rellenos. It was so very good! They cook it on this oil drum stoves and it is hot and yummy (with just the right amount of savory grease). You have to chew your food quickly though because you can’t bring it on the train. Neither one of us got sick from this but who knows. It could have been the start of why my stomach has been a little off since the train ride. There were also many, many Tarahumara indian women selling beautiful baskets. They were not too pushy and none of them just begged for money. They were always offering baskets which truly are beautiful. We bought a hand-made tortilla basket for Mex’s sisters and wish we could have found more of them.

The train Copper Canyon train making its way over one of the many bridges

I think the train goes over 80 some bridges and almost 40 tunnels. It really is an amazing train ride. The first class train is very nice with a lot of room and there is the spot in between cars where you can take pictures through open windows (although you have to fight for a spot at the best parts). There are many tour packages that leave from the US or you can fly in to Chihuahua City and leave from there. We would definitely recommend it and advise stopping in the canyon at least one day. Early March was a nice time to go weather-wise although the scenery was pretty dry. They say the summer is really, really hot in the canyon. Another time that is supposed to be nice is in October or November because it is after the rainy season and there is a little more greenery and wild flowers.

Great views about 2 hours east of El Fuerte

Some notes on scenery spotting. If you are looking at a guide-book like Lonely Planet with a map, the area between Cuauhtémoc and Creel is mostly farm fields and little towns. South of Creel about an hour the scenery starts changing to pine trees. In Divisadero, you get to jump off and see down in to the canyon. Get off the train and look because, sadly, you never really get a great view IN to the canyon from the train. The area around Temoris is stunning! About 1.5 – 2.5 hours north of El Fuerte the train crosses rivers and lakes and is really beautiful. Right around El Fuerte it is more of a desert landscape with Saguaro cactuses and scrub brush.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chihuahua State, Mexico, Travel Tips

Cuauhtemoc

We made it out of Juarez and through the Chihuahuan Dessert.

Chihuahua Desert

I must say it was very “desertish” with scrubby brush and dust devils galore. I was surprised by the mountains that rose constantly to the west of us. I guess I never realized there would be mountains this far north but I guess you need mountains to make canyons. Since we are on our way to tour one of the world’s largest canyons, I guess the mountains make sense!

Chihuahua Desert between Juarez and Chihuahua City

There is not wireless at our hotel room so I have to use the computer in the lobby. Traffic was not really bad and the roads were all in very good condition actually. I know Chihuahua is one of the richest states so that might change as we go farther south. There are signs saying “No tiras basura” (Don’t throw garbage) every few miles. They mostly seem to be effective.  I say mostly because there was usually a small pile of trash at the base of the sign but nowhere else. There were also billboards every couple miles with “En tres años” (In three years) and pictures of happy Mexican families doing daily activities. Not sure what this means… Unbelievable happiness will come to Mexican families in 2011? Or maybe the billboards were put up in 2007 and it is a countdown to the 2010 bicentennial…

The tolls really killed us… about $22 US to go 5.5 hours… That does not sound too bad except probably only 1.5 hours were actually ON a nice quality toll road! We did put gas in. It was $0.80 a liter and there are 3.8 liters in a gallon… I am not sure what that works out to but it seemed expensive. About $30 US to put in a little over 1/2 tank or 7ish gallons.

Mex and I had a few communication breakdowns due to the stress of not knowing what we were doing but we have calmed down now. Driving around the city of Chihuahua was particularly stressful because the exit signs always seemed to be on the “wrong” side of the road so we never knew what lane to be in. Also, when we got to the outskirts of the city, every intersection was crowded with people selling food, newspapers, coming up and squirting fluid on the window and trying to wash it. It was very nerve-wracking since I read way too many online horror stories of people being attacked in their cars. Definitely shouldn’t have done as much “research” on driving in Mexico as I did.

This hotel in Cuauhtémoc – the Tarahumara Inn –  is not as nice as our last one but seems pretty clean and has secure parking which is important. Costs about $70 a night. The city of Cuauhtémoc is mid-sized (about 90,000 people) so driving in it was a little better, although I did end up going the wrong way down a one way street. There are about 50,000 German-descended Mennonites in this area. They reportedly speak little Spanish and keep mostly to themselves, marrying within the community. I found an interesting article on drug use in the Mennonite community. I guess it is hard to live in one of Mexico’s most dangerous states without some surrounding influence. It is very strange to be walking down the street surrounded by Mexicans and then see these white men in overalls and white women in homemade dresses and bonnets. Very out of place.

It is about 3 pm and we spent some time walking around town a little. There are some interesting shops and this strange two-story market area that we went in to. I can’t really even describe it very well. Mex feels a little ill so we are going to relax and get ready for our Copper Canyon trip tomorrow. I can’t believe I didn’t take a single picture of the town. Still getting used to this tourist thing I guess.

UPDATE at 9 pm – We just finished dinner at the hotel restaurant. Finally some authentic Mexican food! We both had shrimp but with different sauces and it was great. Mex´s stomach has not gotten any better. He is having major cramps but nothing else and we cannot figure out why since we both have eaten exactly the same thing today. It may be the stress of my driving. If you notice that I am missing contractions or some punctuation it is because I am typing on a Mexican keyboard which has extra buttons that are amazingly impossible to figure out. We are both glad to not be driving for a few days and think going all the way over to Tequila may be an optimistic plan. Especially since we do not have the best of tempers in stressful situations. Thank goodness mom and dad drove us down to El Paso (dad really did all the driving) or we would probably both have ditched the car by now and gotten on a plane. I am starting to miss everybody. More now than when I was stuck in the hotel which seems odd. I am getting very excited to meet his sisters and dad and nieces and nephews and see his town. About nine or ten days left though until we get there. Have a good night everyone.

6 Comments

Filed under Chihuahua State, Mexico

Last day in Juarez


Here is a picture of the Mexican pesos. The coins make a lot more sense than US coins because the largest ones are the most valuable. It is roughly a 10 to 1 value (about 10.65) so you are looking at a $10, $20, $5 and $2 roughly.

By the way- His actual interview was incredibly short. They only asked three questions! One of them was if we planned on having kids. I thought that was a little odd. He actually had his interview “on time” at around 8 am but then he had to wait until about noon for them to give him the paper with the results – a rejection of his familial visa application due to his living in the US more than 180 days without a visa (that is how the law reads). Annoying that he had wait for that when we knew up front it would happen and even have his second Waiver interview scheduled.  Oh well. It seems like it would be more efficient for everyone to just skip to the 2nd interview. However, I suppose the US immigration department would miss out on a few thousand dollars of fees. I guess the first interview does serve the purpose of determining if the individual even qualifies for a Waiver. For instance, an individual who has falsely claimed to be a US citizen, who has entered the US undocumented more than once, has committed a felony, or a number of other exclusions, can NOT even attempt to get a Waiver of Inadmissibility.
 
I was totally excited that he came back by 12:30. We went to the mall for a little while and bought some bread for our road trip tomorrow. We are sooooooooooooo excited to leave this place and see some of this beautiful country!
 
An interesting story about the El Paso – Ciudad Juarez border area. In 1827, Jose Ponce de Leon received a land grant from the Mexican government on the south side of the Rio Grande (called the Rio Bravo in Mexico). Leon’s land became known as El Chamizal (the name of the park we drove by at the border crossing with the giant Mexican flag). The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, named the Rio Grande as the US-Mexican border from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico. The area then became separated into two cities, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The Rio Grande turns from flowing south to southeast right by the El Chamizal. The south bank of the river was constantly eroding and spring flooding was causing the river to actually move.
 
By 1895, the entire park was on the north side of the river. It was after the great flood of 1897 that the US and Mexico decided to construct a cement canal and control the flow of the river in 1899, splitting the cost. In 1911, a dispute started. Even though Pedro Garcia, a Mexican farmer, had clear title to the El Chamizal land. It was on the El Paso side and Americans settled on it. The Mexican revolution started soon after and the dispute was put on the back burner. In the 20’s, prohibition sent Americans across the border to drink, drug trafficking started going northwards and the Immigration Act of 1924 signed by President Coolidge put limits on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the US, actually excluding all Asians from immigrating. Conditions were so bad in the area during the Great Depression that officials on BOTH sides agreed to put up a border fence, which was constructed in 1940.
Finally in 1963, after 93 years of dispute, The Chamizal Convention was held and President Kennedy and Presidente Lopez Mateos came to an agreement. It was President Lyndon Johnson who attended the dedication ceremony in 1967. Now there is a Chamizal Park on both sides of the border to tell the history and cooperation of the two counties working together (after almost 100 years, of course).  I guess that means in another 90 years the two countries may come to an agreement on how to handle the drug trafficking and immigration problems that span both borders.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chihuahua State, Immigration, Mexico, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card, Undocumented Worker