Saturday, January 07, 2006

Across the Border: Juarez & El Paso

NOB HILL--As MaryAnn's winter break wound down last weekend, we found ourselves spending the day in Juarez, Mexico. It was actually the day of New Year's Eve, so life on both sides of the border was moving a little slow...everyone saving their energy for that evening.

But the skies were blue and the sun was bright as we walked across the border into Juarez. About three blocks into the city a man asked, "Taxi? El mercado?" Well that hit me just right. I didn't want to walk all the way to the old mercado. So for 5 bucks we rode the mile or two.

Oh, we shopped. I bought another beautiful striped blanket. I have bought several over the years, but something keeps happening to them and I needed a new one. We also got a couple of hand-blown juice glasses and a small mirror. They may be trinkets to most people, but to us these are more like small parts of our lives filled with memories of this wonderful time together.

At any rate, we didn't really come down here to shop...we were looking for relaxation. So we settled down on the warm patio drinking a kind of coffee flavored with cinnamon. The musicos played nearby and the coffee and sun warmed us inside and out. It seemed like a day in paradise.

We took a taxi back to the downtown area and slowly made our way north the few blocks to the border. The bright paint gave an exotic feel to what was essentially a very human experience: how to separate us from a few of our dollars. But we met some very friendly people down there. Some were merchants or street vendors, others were shoppers. Several times I found myself looking into someone's eyes...both of us realizing that we were both dancers in someone else's tune. And there wasn't much we could do about it.

As we crossed the bridge back into El Paso it felt even more like that. One side of the bridge was for pedestrians walking into Mexico, the other for pedestrians walking into El Paso. The moving lines of people, both Mexicans and Americans going to and fro reinforces one thought: we are one people, worldwide, and though politics and borders certainly have their impact on our lives, there is no US and THEM.

I do not have any big solutions for border and immigration problems. There are at least two sides to everything. But looking down from that bridge at the narrow channel of water that divides Mexico from the U.S. it is so obvious that one side the the channel is pretty much the same as the least in terms of us as people sharing the same land. I only hope that we can overcome the impositions of political reality and economics.

No comments: