0589 The Other Side of the Fence (USA 105—revisit)

Nogales Travel Blog

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Next morning I’m back in Nogales, taking the long hike from the bus station to the border.  This time I stop next to an enormous bust of Donaldo Colosio, a hugely popular presidential candidate who was assassinated--  people believe--  by his own ruling party because they were afraid he might rock the boat too much. Afterwards, that same ruling party turned him into some sort of legend, naming streets and plazas after him all over thc country. 


It seems as a fitting spot for my video clip--  a sort of symbol of Mexico’s confusing and contradictive political past.


I continue on, and take another video clip in front of the statue of an indian spearing a giant bat.

  I ask what it means, and people tell me it’s based on an ancient legend--  but I still can’t get the full story. 


And then I reach a little plaza, and a tiny little “tourist trap” strip with a few restaurants and souvenir shops for the few tourists that dare to venture here despite all the travel advisories…


And across the border to the USA.


Nogales, Arizona


Nogales, Arizona is small and pretty boring compared to its southern counterpart.   There’s a shopping strip which clearly caters to Mexican shoppers.

  In fact, if you go in there, they’ll speak to you in Spanish no matter your skin color! 


And there are a handfull of buildings that do seemed to be relics of a bygone era.  One is a free museum, so I go to check it out.  It contains a number of displays about the city’s history--  particularly when there was a big military build up here back in the 1920s when there was fear that the Mexican Revolution might spill over.


The guy running the museum--  who travels to Mexico a lot-- seemed interested in a chat, so I ask him “Is it more dangerous traveling in Mexico than it used to be?”


“Well, my parents drove across Mexico during the Revolution--  so, compared to that--  it’s pretty safe, I should say…”


I continue on down the road, take a clip in front of a classy little old courthouse, then down along the highway as it gets more boring and more typically American, with cookie cut houses and forgettable strip malls.

  When I reach a park with a statue and park of Father Kino--  an early Catholic missionary/pioneer from way back in the day, venerated on both sides of the border--  I figure I’ve gon far enough.  Being really a one street town, I find it hard to find my way back without retracing my steps, but finally manage to find a street that head up a hill where I get a good view of the border fence, with open countryside on most of the US side, and crowded, shoddy neighborhoods on the other side--  a pretty stark contrast to the casual observer, but I do know that Nogales has at least one decent neighborhood a bit further down the road.


Later that Day


After wandering around Nogales, USA, I decide to head back to Nogales, Mexico for the night--  as it’s cheaper, and I feel there’s a lot more to explore there still.


So, satisfied with my tour of downtown, I head up the steep streets that go up and down the hills of Nogales.

  From the top of the hill you get a panoramic view of a dozen hilltops with colorful houses built on them at all odd angles--  some perched right at the top of a cliff.


The homes are mostly solid cinderblock or brick with a finished exterior, so they don’t have the scrappy, claustrophobic feel of, say, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro--  but it is an interesting and unusual layout for a city and worth an afternoon tour.


A couple of large, Protestant churches built on the hilltops, with slightly off tune rock and roll “praise” music coming out, catches my attention.  It seems Protestantism continues to make headway here in Catholic Mexico, with its lively music and flamboyant preachers…


After a couple of ups and downs the different hills, I figure I’ve sufficiently explored the hill neighborhoods of Nogales and look for a way down to the valley once again…


That evening I decide to brave Nogales at night again, and head to the border.

  There, on one side of the street is a regular business area, and on the other side is an ugly solid metal wall.  Scores of white crosses attached to “The Wall”--  each with a name on it catches my attention.  Were these people who crossed and never returned?  It seems like one long, melancholy shrine…


Finally, after another order of tacos, I decide to call it a night.

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The Fence
The Fence
photo by: kingelvis14