Today was to be the first of 3 reasonably long driving days, with today’s journey taking us from the north of New Mexico right to the southern border and just into Texas.
Not much to comment on in the 350 mile drive across the wide open plains of New Mexico, other than:
- we saw signs for two towns called “Elephant Butt” and “Truth or Consequence”, which made us giggle (it was a long drive, Ok …)
- we stopped in a one horse town called “Hatch” for lunch at “Sparky’s Burger Joint”, and each had one of their “world famous green chilli cheeseburgers”. They were pretty good burgers, but I’ve never heard of them before.
We arrived in El Paso late in the afternoon. From our hotel room, you could look across the US – Mexican border at the sprawling suburbs on the Mexican side.
We took a walk in the “Golden Horseshoe” shopping district of El Paso, an area covering about 10 blocks by 4, abutting the border on its southern end. What a difference a day’s drive can make. Having left the affluence and style of Santa Fe in the morning, the contrast of El Paso was immense.
I’m guessing people mustn’t tie goods onto trucks very well in this part of the world, as shop upon shop stocked unbelievably cheap clothing, sporting goods and what can best be called “junk”. Jane bought a 4 pack of sports socks for $2. Lots of the shops had half-body mannequins out the front displaying jeans for $7 – $8.
Interestingly, all of the mannequins were positioned with their backs to the street, to show off how the jeans will looked stretched across a Latino butt. And before any accusations of chauvinism start to fly, it was Jane who pointed this out first.
We also walked down to the border crossing, where a steady stream of Mexicans seemed to be making their way on foot back across the border. We guessed they must have permits to enter the US on a daily basis, and return home each evening. Whatever way, they didn’t look particularly exuberant to be heading back across the border.
As night fell, we started feeling (probably totally unjustifiably) a bit uneasy walking the streets in this district, particularly as people seemed to be noticing the non-Mexicans. So we headed back to a bar near the hotel, thinking we would just have to make do eating in our hotel.
Chatting to the barmaid, she suggested we take a drive up to “Scenic Drive”, and then pointed out on a map an area of town with lots of bars and restaurants.
We should have tipped her more, as the view from Scenic Drive was fantastic. Street lights stretched out before us as far as the eye could see, across into Mexico. It was obviously the place to be after dark, as a number of cars had pulled up in the viewing spots, although I’m not sure one of the cars appreciated it when I inadvertently shone our headlights on them.
The girl in the passenger seat had obviously been searching for something she had dropped on the floor, and the disturbance of our headlights caused her to have to readjust her clothing as she sat up abruptly. As it was just after 7pm, maybe she was in the car getting ready to go out and had dropped her lipstick.
After taking in the view, we found a bar, Cinncinatti Bar, serving dinner where the barmaid had recommended, to be served by a twenty-something guy who had run the Gold Coast marathon last year, and was planning to return to Australia for a 12 month working holiday later this year.
Small world, although after today’s drive, it didn’t feel that way.