This photo is of Nuevo Laredo, MX as seen from Laredo, TX. The Rio Grande River separates the two – no big wall (yet). So, John and I decided that we would scout locations for the Wall, in case civilian input is requested as some point in time. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was a surprise to see a wide-open river with a big park on the Mexico side, and the same on the Texas side. Seems like it would be pretty easy for a swimmer of reasonable skill to get across and enter the park on the Texas side. The Border doesn’t run down the middle of the River, as I figured, but zigzags from side to side. These guys were fishing – standing in the USA, but actually fishing in Mexican waters since the Border runs right up to the shoreline at this point. Perhaps any fish they catch are subject to some kind of international tariff – we didn’t ask.
It’s hard to pick a spot where the Wall should go. Too close to either shoreline would deprive those citizens of enjoying the beauty of a riverside park. Perhaps putting it right down the middle of the River would be fairest, although it would almost cause some ecology and navigation issues. From where we were standing, we could see the pedestrian bridge (foot traffic only going from US to Mexico, as much as we could see), a busy car crossing, and a railroad bridge. Since Mexico is going to ultimately pay for the Wall (right?), I guess it would only be fair to let them choose where it goes. The more you look, the dumber the idea gets.
Laredo is a hardscrabble town. There really wasn’t anything pretty here. John even passed up the only BBQ joint we saw. We bicycled around from our campground at Lake Casa Blanca International State Park. That’s a whole ‘nother story – this town will never win any “bike-friendly”awards! Mile after mile of aged, severely rundown houses. Most had not seen paint for at least fifty years. Plywood covered many windows, and sagging chain link fences held back menacing pitbulls, caged in rubbish-filled yards. We also saw many loose dogs – one young pitbull gave John a pretty good run for his money before John surprised him with a blast from his water bottle right between the eyes. He was confused enough that when he eyeballed me, and I hollered very roughly, he didn’t even bother. (I can sound very threatening when I need to be). But, we also passed one very run down house where an elderly man was sweeping dirt and leaves from the driveway. Grubby kids waved and hollered as we passed. Seems like folks are just trying to carve out a life with the cards they’ve been dealt.
So, how bad would your life have to be, that you would give it up to cross the Border to live in Laredo? I really can’t imagine. I’ve never walked a mile in those shoes. We just saw people trying to get along. The big old Cathedral was filling up with worshippers on a routine Sunday morning. An elderly woman approached me, as I was standing with our bikes while John peeked inside, and indicated (in Spanish + hand gestures) that there was a bike rack where we could lock up our bikes around the corner. Let’s give her the boot too, eh?
End of sermon.
This State Park is the most crowded of any we’ve found so far this trip. Since it’s on a lake, everyone has a fishing pole, and there are lots of families with small kids on bikes. Probably 80% of the conversations we’ve heard have been in Spanish. We’ve got a pretty good site, but our neighbors last night chained up their German Shepherd away from their tent and left him outside all night. He barked ALL night. Thankfully, they left today. If not, I would have complained – it was ridiculous.
Our big fear was the series of storms that swept through Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas this weekend. Luckily, we were too far south for them to hit us, although we have had huge winds, accompanied by brief showers. But, the warmth is appreciated. I’m not complaining. Now, Laredo is under a flash flood warning, as all the rain dumped west of us is headed this way. We are rolling tomorrow morning, and really don’t anticipate that we’ll run into anything bad.