Sunday, March 6, 2011

Laredo - Are There Any Nice Border Towns?

We arrived in Laredo on Sunday, February 27 as Bill and Junior had to be at work at the Family Dollar at 8pm. The store was on the south side of town so we decided to first stay at the Walmart about a half mile away. We were going to move locations after a day or so but there were no other boondocking areas close by and this Walmart has a special parking area for oversized vehicles and quite a few stayed multiple days so we decided to do so also. 

That was about the only good thing that happened in Laredo. It was 100 degrees on Sunday when we arrived, which is unseasonably warm even for here.  About 2am it cooled down enough to get some sleep! There was quite a bit of work to do in the Laredo area between merchandising and mystery shopping so Michelle and I had two full days of work -- good part. Bad part? People here drive like jerks -- now I know that happens in most larger cities but after driving Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and the greater LA area I can truthfully say that these people probably drive the worst as you have the Mexicans who cross the border daily and speed limits, no passing zones and other such nuisances are just to be ignored! This is also the most Spanish intensive city that we have been within the US borders. It is everywhere and English is a rarity. It is also very, very weird to see someone with blonde hair. The biggest bad part is that people, especially Latina women, are very, very rude here. I feel I have a right to say that and not sound prejudiced as I speak the language and understand the culture. Bumping into me in a store and not bothering to say excuse me, walking double down an aisle and expecting me to be the one to move appears that common courtesy and the words "permiso" or even (heaven forbid!) "excuse me" are just not taught down here. I am not sure if it was that they treat everyone that way or if it was because I am white. I never had this problem in Latin American countries or in Arizona. The Latinas down here must feel they are better than white women or something -- and I really hate to say that but that is the impression that they give off. I have decided to not be the one to move over from now on. I'm going to plant myself and if they bump into me I will loudly say "¡Permiso!" so maybe they get they idea that they are rude as hell. But then again, maybe they won't.

Now on to Laredo's other issues. It is a typical busy, dirty border town. We were talking to a truck driver from Michigan who said that it used to be a nice little town. Well, unfortunately that seems to have changed. It is one of the oldest border crossing cities and the country's largest inland port of entry. There are two places to cross over into Mexico in town. One is north of town and is just for commercial trucks and the other is in the downtown and is for private vehicles and foot traffic. Here are the web cams of some of the international bridges. As you can see it is easier to get into Mexico than it is getting back!,_Texas

It should tell you something that the most famous resident to come out of Laredo is Tom Delay...when he is not sitting in a federal penitentiary somewhere that is. Other than money laundering the biggest crimes that occur in Laredo is smuggling -- of both people and drugs -- with a few homicides here and there.

It appears that the group that controls Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side are the Zetas and are bloodthirsty ex-special forces hitmen who are at war with their rivals, the Juarez Cartel.  Laredo citizens have disappeared from the US side....we need to act NOW. Yes, we are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq but we sure the hell are at war here too. We need to protect our borders be it by a better fence or more intelligence gathering and show of force. Everybody who knows me should know that I am not saying this out of discrimination nor prejudice as I speak the language and love the culture. The truth of the matter is that we as US citizens CANNOT do what these people are doing every day -- entering another country ILLEGALLY. Do you think for one minute that Mexican customs would be ok with us just entering, not at a checkpoint of course, and staying for however long we liked? And that doesn't include trying to get social services and who knows what else from the government. As far as the drug problem, I don't see an answer as the demand comes from us. If there were no demand there would be no supply. Is legalization the answer? I am not sure but I do know that what we are doing today sure isn't working. Take a look at what we saw today in Roma Texas about 40 miles south along the Rio Grande from Laredo. I am sorry the video isn't better but I was afraid that the cops or the Border Patrol would take my video camera if they saw it.

Today's front page headline for the local newspaper in Zapata said that students are being cautioned to avoid Mexico during spring break. Unfortunately, many will ignore this warning as there is no drinking age in Mexico. Hopefully they all come back alive.

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