Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mexico: Juárez: First Date: Going and Coming

Here, I explained you've got to have two quarters to enter Juárez and then one quarter to return to El Paso.

You've also got to have a passport or other documentation that will let you back into the United States.

I just realized that when you walk in to Juárez from El Paso, no one stops you to see if you're American versus, say, Canadian, Nigerian, Romanian, or Korean. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I never saw it happen.

Benjamin Alire Saenz, my literary cultural interpreter for El Paso, wrote about the fluidity between El Paso and Juárez. 

From Carry Me Like Water (1995): 
Driving down Interstate 10, Jake took the Juárez exit. He took his eyes off the road for a moment and stared down at Concordia Cemetery, the dead disturbed now by a freeway the locals called the spaghetti bowl. As the freeway curbed around, Juárez was straight ahead. It was so easy to get there, just get in the car, take an exit - Mexico - so easy, he thought. 
... He remembered how, sick as he was in his last days, Joaquin had been obsessed with denouncing the only two countries he'd ever known, ever lived in. "I hate Mexico," he mumbled. "I hate the United States. I hate - "

"What?" Eddie asked Jake. 

"Nothing, I was just talking to myself ... It's funny to live in a town where the other half of it is in another country."
[Luz] thought of moving to El Paso - she could move there any time she wanted - it was her home, her country. Her mother had chosen her nationality for her. She had waited until she was about to deliver, then walked into a clinic. She had been born a U.S. citizen in an ambulance on the way to the county hospital. She wondered why she had to choose between Juárez and El Paso ... She could not relinquish her Juárez because her family had lived in this ragged city for generations; it was her blood, her history, her inheritance; but she could not relinquish El Paso because it was the piece of dirt her mother had bequeathed to her; it, too, was her blood; it, too, was her history ... she knew what everyone in Juárez knew, knew that El Paso belonged to them, belonged to the border, would never be like the rest of America because their faces were printed on its land as if it were a page in a book that could never be ton out by any known power, not by God, not by the Border Patrol, not by the president of either country, not by the purists who wanted to define Americans as something organic, as if they were indigenous plants ... Luz laughed. El Paso was hers and ... she would not relinquish it to any gringo or any Chicana - who was not intelligent enough to acknowledge that she was entitled to it poverty and its riches.

When I crossed back over to El Paso from Juárez on my first foray into Mexico, the United States greeted me with: a rainbow, twists of barbed wire, and two plastic trash bags.

Between Mexico and the US, November 2016.

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1 comment:

judy said...

Rainbow pictures are a mitzvah.