Life on the Line Between El Paso and Juárez
It’s long, but read it all anyway.
El Paso and Ciudad Juárez lie together uncomfortably like an estranged couple, surrounded on all sides by mountains and desert. The cities are separated by the thin trickle of the Rio Grande, which flows through concrete channels, built to put an end to the river’s natural habit of changing course and muddying boundaries. One side is Texas; the other, Mexico. The border’s way of life — its business, legitimate and otherwise — has always relied upon the circumvention of this dividing line.
Everyone who spends time in Juárez seems to espouse a contradictory theory of risk management: I’m blond; they won’t touch an American… . I look Mexican; I blend in… . I drive a very fast car… . I only take taxis… . I look harmless… . I look tough… . Don’t worry, everyone knows who I am… . Don’t worry, nobody knows who I am.
Nearly everyone I met in El Paso — whether they spoke Spanish or English, were liberal or conservative, rich or poor — told me the same thing: no one outside really understood this crisis they were living through.
This article captures the flavor —and the sabor — of life in these border towns better than anything else I’ve read in the past ten years.
Don’t miss the slideshow.