Street Art, Nogales, Mexico
This wasn’t my first border crossing.
“Have we left Switzerland yet?” I asked my international traveling companion as we drove from Switzerland into Slovenia. “I think so… keep looking for a place to eat lunch,” he insisted. But there was no food, and no one checking passports. We drove on.
“Was that the border crossing?” I asked as we drove from Slovenia into Croatia. "I think so, there was a small station, and it had flowers planted in the median, but there was no one around." We didn’t stop. We didn’t show our passports. We continued on our drive.
“Are we in Italy yet?” I asked my trusty driver as we drove out of Croatia and into Italy. “The signs are now in Italian, so we must have changed countries” was his reply.
“Are we still in Spain, or are we in France?” I asked as we drove from Spain into France. “I think so; I too was busy watching traffic" was his reply. "I'll check our navigation electronics and see what Google has to say about our location." We didn’t stop and continued on our way through the countryside.
That was last year.
While on walkabout in Southwest Arizona, I wanted to visit the wall on the Mexican side. I wanted to see first hand the famous wall.
We were camping at Patagonia State Park. It was Keith's birthday trip and we decided to go into Nogales for a birthday celebration dinner.
When we got to the border we didn’t just keep driving. Because knew what to expect, we parked our car and walked into Mexico. If we drove, it would take us hours to return.
It was obvious that we were crossing the US and Mexican border.
Walking into Mexico we had no problem finding the wall, but had difficulty seeing an entry point. We found one sign. So, we followed the trickle of people pushing through the buildings and a metal turnstile.
On the Mexican side, we are greeted by a row of pharmacies and dentists one after another. All shapes and sizes. It was clear that while we walked to the Mexican side for dinner, many people walk the same way to purchase their medications. We found ourselves behind a couple, each carrying a plastic bag filled with what appears to be medication bottles. We ask about their purchases. "We do this all the time. It is much cheaper here than in the US. We bring our prescriptions and fill them here all the time."
A white border patrol car flickers through the bars, and I walk along the Mexican side. I can also see homes, cars, large portable lights, and a Burger King.
But the story I want to share is visual. It is about our walkabout along the wall. The wall splits International street in Nogales. Large, metal bars, split the town right down International street.
Through the bars, I can see a street sign post on the USA side "International." On an abandoned building I can see a street sign on the Mexican side declares "International." It strikes me as being odd that a huge metal wall defines international street.
And on the Mexican side of the wall lives art. Art making a statement.
On the Mexican side – remembrance of those who passed.
A small group of young men were dancing while being video recorded.
Cars drove up and down International. There is a car wash, vendors selling drinks and snacks, people going about their business.
There is something unspoken about standing on the Mexican side looking over at the United States.
Our return was without incident and much easier than we expected. We stood in line. We showed our passports and our shiny white smiles. I was wearing my Gap jeans and my LLBean windbreaker. "Did you buy anything?" we were asked. "Just dinner." we replied in our best Californian accent. We were on passed through and we walked back to our car.
Two sides, one city. One big mo-fo hunk of metal running down the middle of town.
I need to be reminded. This is for ... what? Why? Who are we keeping out?
The Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, the Berlin Wall, the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
World History - how is that wall working for you?
We can pass freely between European countries, but a big metal wall splits this town into two worlds. What does Switzerland, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, know that we don't?
Every American from the United States should stand on other American side of the wall.