Saturday, October 25, 2008

Department of Tourism

While we were in Arizona, we only got to spend about two hours walking along Avenida Internacional in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. I spent a lot of time in Agua Prieta while I grew up. A lot of time. It’s a border town next to Douglas, Arizona. (There’ll be a pop quiz in the morning.)

My First Wife and I were tourists this time, and I was excited to be there again. Because our time was short we didn’t get to do too much. Since I moved away, Agua Prieta has grown from a little border crossing town into a major Mexican metro with more than 100,000 people. It’s 10 times bigger than my American home town.

I got all my haircuts in this little barber shop from age one till I went into the army. Fifty cents every time. It used to be called "Carlos y Carlos Barberia." Now it's called "The Frontier Beauty Salon." (There'll be a pop quiz in the morning.)

Close friends of my parents have owned this little Mexican curio store since the 50s. Many good memories echo there. When we walked in and I introduced us, Mr. Castellanos, still the owner, was so happy to hear my father’s name he nearly cried out loud. All he did was talk about his good friends, my parents. And us kids, too. I bought a lot of baseballs there over the years. 25¢ each.

One reason I took us there was to buy a serape. And we bought a beauty. I've missed them.

They told us to walk, “…because if you take a car, it will take you more than an hour to get back.” This is a four-lane, half-mile line-up of cars waiting to cross from Mexico into the US during a "light" time of the day. On the other side of that tall ugly fence is America.

This photos shows only the pedestrian entry back into the US. Cameras everywhere. Bleeve me, many people walk back and forth. My dad worked here at “the port” for 37 years. He wouldn’t recognize this modern complex. I didn’t. Nor would he understand the extra “stuff” required to re-enter the country. Back in the day, he was a friendly, helpful fixture there. Times change, though. At the reunion, several old friends told us how my dad used to quietly bend a few rules to let kids come back home—after an evening of under-age drinking in Mexico. Those kids were grateful, still to this day.

But in Agua Prieta, if you could see over the top of the bar, you were old enough to buy drinks.

If you stand in Douglas, Arizona, you can plainly see Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. Just peek through the ugly fence.

My collection of bench photos is growing, and this interesting one from Agua Prieta will sit nicely in My Benches Folder.

By the way, the Wal-Mart store in Douglas, Arizona (just three blocks inside the US), is one of the top five busiest Wal-Mart stores in the US. That’s what “everybody” says, anyway.

(Oh, by the way. Take a peek at My Hats Blog. Una nina bonita!)

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