In Douglas Arizona, we sashayed into Mexico on foot. The crossing was free, and we showed our California driver’s licenses as proof of nationality.
In Del Rio, Texas, crossing over on foot wasn’t so easy.
First, we had to walk a mile out of the way because of the stupid border fence construction. Then, we were forced to pay seventy five cents per person, just to walk across a mile long bridge over the Rio Grande, and into Mexico. Upon our return, we had to pay again, then show our birth certificates and driver’s licenses to the border patrol. Good thing we took ‘em, because there was no indication that they were required on the U.S. side when we went into Mexico. After June 1st, supposedly everyone will need a passport.
During our long walk over the bridge into Mexico, an old Mexican man was walking in front of us, carrying grocery bags. A guy in a pickup pulled over to offer him a ride into town. It took us a second to realize that he was also offering us a ride. The old guy got in, but we said “No gracias.” This was one of those situations in which we really wanted to believe in the best of humanity, but just couldn’t bring ourselves to take him up on the offer, with all of the borderlands violence we’ve heard about.
Was crossing over for the day worth it? Not really. We could’ve had the same experience in the nearest Texas ghetto. And like my Dad says, border towns aren’t the real Mexico. They’re so geared toward tourists that any trace of authenticity is gone.
Well, not everything. You’ll still find potholed streets, dirty air, crumbling sidewalks and hooker bars. But keep in mind that if you go, you’re going to get harassed beyond belief by aggressive storekeepers who are obviously hurting because of the U.S. recession.
As far as the reported threats of violence in border towns, we never once felt like we were in any danger, but then again, we didn’t venture too far out of the fake touristy areas, or take rides with strangers.