Section 7: El Paso to Fort Hancock
Our Lyft driver Raul dropped us off at our starting point and shared a ton of info along the way. He knew the ins and outs of the area after living and working in El Paso his entire life. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico shares the border with El Paso, and the two cities are an international crossroads for commerce and trade. Raul pointed out a myriad of industrial gas stacks just over the border in Juárez. Many of those factories are American owned using primarily Mexican labor. Chief among the manufacturing industries are those focused on food production, clothing, construction materials, electronics and medical equipment, and plastics. Raul listed off a few specifically, GM and Ford Motor, and concluded that most manufacture car parts. The employees are young Mexicans who provide cheap labor. Their meals are provided for by the company but they make only $50 per week from what Raul said. Yikes.
We moved on to a different subject and asked about the Rio, “did he remember a time when the river was full of water?”
He answered yes, and told us that as kids they would swim in the river north of town, it was deep and wide. It’s been at least 10 years since the river had water above ground, aside from a few controlled releases.
We started the day in an outer suburb of El Paso and walked west, back towards the city center along a busy road. We must have walked by a hundred of mom and pop shops. Their small, unadorned storefronts blended in with regular homes. Angelitos Day Care had a promotional banner strung across a double wide trailer. Dog Stop Grooming was committed to the “utmost care of neighborhood pets”. Dulcelandia provided the neighborhood with pinatas and candy. Hole in the wall restaurants, Tacos Don Cuco, Doggy’s Hotdogs, Dona Lupita Tamales #2 and Rock and Roll Tacos (best tacos and burritos in town). Churro Split, mmmm crispy sticks of fried dough, coated in cinnamon sugar with a plop of ice cream on top? Yes please! Gaby’s Beauty Salon, U Pull It, Beto's Service Center. Yeah, El Pasoans support small business!
A little thrift store shopping was on the agenda today. Both of our hiking shirts are in a state beyond repair. After the eighth gaping hole Tenny tried to patch, and two more her Aunt Mary tackled with a sewing machine, she gave up. Shirts get a lot of wear and tear out here. We stopped at Clothing Liquidators and found new tops for each of us. One baby blue, long-sleeve and one dark purple, long-sleeve.
Will we be able to recognize each other with our new duds?
As we moved closer to central El Paso the mom and pop stores changed to fast food and chain restaurants. We passed an endless stream of vehicle-related services, dealerships, insurance businesses, auto repair shops. Title Max providing loans so you can have cash in as little as 30 minutes, even if you have bad credit. We stopped at the largest franchise of all, McDonald’s, for some free WiFi and cold drinks. We had been walking next to the road all day and the hiking felt overwhelming. Back on the road we finally reached the port of entry, a white elevated arched bridge packed with cars and semis. Another Lyft brought us back to our hotel and some welcome invisibility.