I often stop through Juarez – not with groups but when I am on my own. I do this for several reasons. Sometimes I have business here. This is where I get my visa renewed. The office is at the Cordova/ Bridge of the Americas. Sometimes I am with Tarahumara runners and we are working on visas for the Copper Canyon Running Tour. The US consulate is in a newish developing part of the city on the southeast side.
But my most common reason for staying over here is that I have friends here and I like it here. This probably seems like idiocy to most US people- especially to those in El Paso, not 2 miles from where I am right now. But my experience, the lives of people here in Juarez and the statistics tell me that I am ok here so I come and I love it.
Love it? Yes I do and for several reasons. The food is excellent and it is reasonable. I stopped into a local bar/restaurant last night and enjoyed a Negro Modello and a plate od tacos for $10 US. Very good food in a nice atmosphere. The hotels are very god in a range of prices- all of which are more reasonable that my US options. Two nights ago I stayed at Microtel near the El Paso Airport. Last night I stayed at the Lucerna in Juarez. The Lucerna was bigger, cleaner, way more hospitality (like fruit in my room and lots of amenities), and cheaper.
One of the biggest plusses for Juarez is the people. On the street and in the little shops there is am ambiance that is welcoming. I have made friends with a couple- Sotero and Francisca- who have a kind of mobile copy shop on the street in front of the clinics around Lucerna. They used to operate out of their old Cutlass off the battery. Now they have a generator and they make a living doing copies all day for people. As he leaned on hi weathered Bible resting on his copier, he told me that the US factory where they used to work just kept closing so he went for it with the copy gig. They have become good friends.
I recently was walking down one of the bustling streets in Juarez (yes Juarez is thriving and developing though we hear the opposite and we usually figure that people there are huddled fearing for life every second) and I had a distinct thought. It hit me that this place is much like Albuquerque or Phoenix in the feel except that the food is better and cheaper, the hotels are better and cheaper, the people are friendlier, and most of all I feel safer. Later this am after breakfast with my friend Sergio, I will grab a taxi for the airport and fly south to Veracruz- a bit sorry to leave this gracious city.
So yes, Juarez has been thrown under the bus by our State Department, their own tourism boards, local guides quoted in major tour books for Chihuahua and others. But not by me. I will continue to come here because I love it and because it makes the point to potential Chihuahua travelers that it is fine to travel to this great state and certainly to Juarez.