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Walk Across Juarez #1: Anticipation

I am confident of the safety of our groups in Copper Canyon…but am I willing to walk across Juarez?

Walk Across What?

Juarez has to be the LAST place any sane person would chose to even go to, let alone walk across. Most people assume that my body will end up filled with bullets, decapitated, and hung from some bridge with a scrawled cartel note tied to it.

And that was what I thought too.

Where did this idea come from?

Well I am with a small group on one of our trips to Copper Canyon and we are sipping lechugilla up in Temoris along the railway CHEPE. The laughter and jokes are flying. And people start talking about how they felt antsy coming across the border and then – as with people on every trip- they eased up and then began to feel perfectly safe.

And just like that I say “You know sometime I am going to fly to El Paso, put my daypack on my back, walk across that bridge and just walk across Juarez- just to make the point!”

Inside me there was this fear and a certainty that I would never do this.

Some time went by and the idea had this soft little root in my soul that kept growing and I couldn’t shake it.

Then there was the walk against the violence this Spring. Thousands of people walked up across Mexico toward Mexico City to protest and I wondered if they would be safe.

I cross the border all the time with our Authentic Copper Canyon groups.

Rodrigo Esponda…andele pues!

In early June my wife and I were in Chicago visiting with Rodrigo Esponda at the Mexico Tourism Board offices on Michigan Avenue. He said he had not had anyone in his office for several years who said they love to go to Mexico and that there is a future there. Most people tell him there are problems and that it is too dangerous and they can’t get people to go there.

He said we made his day…it was refreshing.

So I poured out this idea to Rodrigo about walking across the Juarez and he smiled and said something like “go for it- andele pues”.

And the idea for the walk took legs…unwilling and fearful and shaky legs I should say.

Planning in trepidation

I began to make some plans and figure out pretty quickly that people on the US side are negative and the Mexicans (on that side) are very positive and welcoming. As a matter of fact, 100% of people who know ABOUT Juarez caution me strongly, while 100% of those who KNOW Juarez encourage me to go for it and affirm the value of such a trek.

One writer for an Austin paper said tersely “I urge you not to go there.” Countless people say they are really worried about me. One guy asks me if I am going to take a gun.

I do not expect any signs of life in Juarez.

All of this sharply conflicting advice galvanizes me to go for it and affirms the certain value of the journey…but still there are my unspoken negative expectations and doubts in me and I keep them personal.

And I buy a plane ticket for El Paso for August 18.

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