Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A New Day, New Mexico, Tombstone and Tucson, AZ

The sky is blue and the air is sparkling clean as day dawns in El Paso, TX, which we made a stop on our journey in honor of a series we are totally addicted to called The Bridge. I understand it has been cancelled, but it’s premise was that there was a lot of horrible crime in Juarez because law enforcement authorities on both sides had given incentives to keep the ugliest crimes on the Mexican side of The Bridge, and US drug enforcement personnel at the highest levels protected drug flow into our country through tunnels and trucking. Fascinating, although in truth, sometimes AdventureMan and I looked at each other and asked “What just happened?”

We have a short driving day today, but a stop at Tombstone, the site of the shoot-out at the OK Corral. Well, not really the OK Corral but the alley next to it. We read Mary Doria Russel’s book Doc, about Doc Holliday, and then Epitaph, her book about Wyatt Earp, and they made it so real, we wanted to visit just to pay tribute to Mary Doria Russel’s research and wonderfully readable books, which take legendary characters and makes them fully human.

Up early, to catch the sunrise reflecting off the windows of El Paso:

00SunRisingOverElPaso

We feel so safe, the parking lot is full of Homeland Security personnel vehicles. Although it is a Sunday morning, many are eating breakfast and heading out to guard the border:
00HomelandSecurityFieldOperations

It is a totally different day from the rainy mess we drove through all day from San Antonio to El Paso. The sky is so blue and the air is so clear and we are thoroughly enjoying this day:

00DifferentMorningFromDayBefore

As we leave Texas, AdventureMan points out that the underside of the overpasses are painted in Southwestern colors, and there are graphic designs on the pillars. The Highways are beautiful! Someone put a little extra thought into making them memorable.

00NMHighwayArt

00PaintedUnderpass

There is a cross gleaming high on a bare mountain, and I am trying to imagine how they got it up there, and how they engineered it so it would be stable and stay there:

00CrossOnMountain

Welcome to New Mexico!

00WelcomeNMLandOfEnchantment

As we are paralleling the border, there is another security stop:

00InspectionStation

We really wanted to buy something at this shop, but the baskets were all made in Pakistan! We have Pakistani baskets! I finally left with just a CD of new-age sort of Indian mystical music, soulful flutes, shaking bones, you know the kind, to put us in the Southwest frame of mind. It’s one of the few things we bought for ourselves on the trip.

00AkilaFlatsSouvenierStore

Screen shot 2015-04-16 at 9.24.33 AM

Advertisements

April 17, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Spiritual, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Security Check

I’ve never seen this before in the United States. We used to go through checks like this in Germany, in Doha, in Kuwait, but not in the United States. This trip, we went through several, all across our southern border.

All the trucks, and all the cars, pulled over to go through security checks, dogs sniffing the cars, men going through an entire truck here and there, or having a family stand to one side as they thoroughly inspect the car.

I love our retired military id’s.

The sign on the left tells us they have caught more than 7,000 illegal immigrants so far this year, and have confiscated more than 12,000 something. . . dollars worth of goods? Individual goods, like cars? I know if you get caught doing something illegal, you lose your property, even if it is a car or a house.

00SecurityStop7023Interdictions

April 15, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Counter-terrorism, Doha, ExPat Life, Germany, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Safety, Social Issues, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Homeland Security: Your Tax Dollars At Work

This is a difficult post to write. I’m a patriot. We served our country many years, Cold Warriors. We believe in the United States of America.

What I saw on our southernmost border on the Rio Grande makes me uncomfortable. We have put a lot of money into making sure illegal aliens don’t get through.

I can see a lot of good reasons for good border security. And having said that, what I saw stepped right over the line of “good border security” and teetered precariously on “oppressive.”

One of the Benson-Rio Grande Valley Park employees told us that if we want to see the Rio Grande, go to (some restaurant that has a view of the Rio Grande) or to this County Park called Anzalduas Park, and he told us how to get there. We drove and drove, couldn’t find it, but there was a cop parked on the road, so we asked him and he told us we were almost there.

As we reached Anzalduas Park (which is right under the Anzalduas Bridge, which goes over into Mexico; no, we didn’t have our passports, so we didn’t cross, maybe next time) and approached the park, it was a very odd park. It’s all excavated out, with a very very bare landscape, and some steep climbs. At the gate are some really heavy duty sliding guard gates. It’s not a very welcoming park.

We got down into the park, drove down to the boat landing, and there were about twenty cars parked there, and they were all security vehicles. There was a big party going on, it was a Friday and some families and children were playing and the loudspeaker was all in Spanish. I couldn’t see any Homeland Security guards, only the cars, maybe the guards were sitting inside. Maybe they were at the party 🙂

00AnzalduasParkEntry

00NotTheSignsThe HeavyGate

The Park employee at Benson – Rio GRande Valley Park had told us that on weekends, across the Rio Grande, is a swim club, and the Mexicans are swimming all the time, just feet away from the American side, but there are all these signs saying the waters are dangerous. The waters seemed very calm, but sometimes there are dangers that are not so obvious.

00NotAllowedNoSwimming

That’s just a lot of cars providing border security in this park.

00HomelandSecurityCars

00RioGrande

00RioGrande2

You can see the Mexican side swimming club; just yards across a very narrow Rio Grande:

00RioGrande3

Here is another view of those heavy gates that bar the park in off hours.

00HeavyDutyGates

We had been told this is a very popular park, full of people all the time. I am glad to hear it, glad that people are not intimidated, and use this beautiful little park for parties and celebrations, just as we use parks all over the USA.

April 14, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Bureaucracy, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Social Issues, Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments