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Walk Across Juarez #3: This Great Distance

I tweeted as I walked across Juarez…starting at he bridge as we were being filmed

As the Donkey Plays the Flute

There is this expression for things done haphazardly or serendipitously in Mexico- as the donkey plays the flute. Alfredo mutters this expression as we head back to the bridge to “begin” the walk. I really have no plan and want to just amble around and have a bunch of experiences in this place and tweet about it all day- @coppercanyonguy.

Tweet, tweet, tweet

For three days I will shoot (have to quit with that word) pics and tweet them with my experiences. As we come to the bridge I start. Vendors are everywhere, cars are lined up. A TV station calls me and says they want to film me- Mexican of course- not a bit of US coverage.

USA Today, Curious

Actually there is one gringa reporter/writer who took some interest just before the trip. She is Jayne Clarke at USA Today Travel blog, and she had her own experience considering coming to Juarez – actually got talked out of it. That story ran awhile back. The day I started walking she wrote about it – A Walk Across Mexico’s murder capitol:brave, foolhardy, or neither? As I tweeted that day- certainly neither– but I am not sure of the right word.

Perhaps curious.

TV Coverage, Dave just be Dave!

So we head off to the border to start and there are cameras and tv reporters from Noticias and Televisa.

Actually we stop on the way for a second breakfast…

All over Juarez there are street food vendors and in this case I enjoy chicken tacos- yes!

Every step of the way I am tweeting- those tweets are at @coppercanyonguy or on face book "dave hensleigh"- and folks are fascinated...and love my idea.

So at the bridge I “start” – they start interviewing me and asking all sorts of questions which I try to answer in my lousy Spanish.

On camera at the Bridge of the Americas.

And then they interview Alfredo…and I wonder, can he get serious for a moment?

I tell Alfredo just before this- don't embarrass me- he is always joking around- and he acts like a perfect gentleman- amazing!

So then I turn to one of the vendors and ask for some water and then we start joking about where the water they sell to gringos comes from.

And the TV guys say, “Hey Dave, just be Dave!” So I turn to the line of cars and start knocking on windows and saying hello. And as I tell people what we are doing they say “Bienvenidos a Juarez”. I am welcomed by hundreds.

Then we head off and the cameras follow and all day long we have these experiences around town…amazing.

The streets of Juarez are alive...packed with traffic and people. I did not expect this.

The cameras followed me for 2-3 hrs and told me "Dave, just be Dave!"

I met this grandpa with a child the same age as our grandchild. I thought "I would bring my little Ezra here". I want my kids and grandkids to see this place and the wall- the same as I saw the Berlin wall as a kid.

Tweeting on the plaza with Tin Tan- local actor and icon.

1,000 miles away…

End of the day we return to the Ramada for a press conference. There is an array of reporters there and they ask a whole bunch of questions and I struggle through in Spanish- why didn’t I pay attention when I took those classes in High School?

Anyway I hear one of the Mexicans being interviewed say “El Paso is so close, but it seems like it is 1,000 miles away” – and my mind drifts…

-We have withdrawn from this place. One NGO used to do 40 trips here a year. Now they do 2 or 3, maybe.

-My observation is that the distance is extreme indeed. Isolation is a good term. And there are arms open there and there is a desire for connection and understanding. But there is this vast ocean- not just a trickling river- between these “twin cities”.

-I wonder at how Juarez has become the butt of Mexico in our US view.

End of Day 1

We pack our way over to a gracious welcome at Hampton Inn, Juarez.

Another place with a gringo name but full of Mexican hospitality.

There are scores of very nice hotels like this in Juarez…and I remember imagining that I would be huddled in some grubby hovel of a room listening for gunshots and expecting the door to be bashed in any moment.

Never a thought of it now.

I have journeyed so far from El Paso in one day. Like 1,000 miles, mas o menos.

I like where I am.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Eric Jacobson says:

    Dave – This is exciting and fun to watch via the web. Best of luck.


  2. Scubatony says:

    I love what you are doing Dave! It is a brilliant idea that is long overdue. I have made the journey by car and motorcycle from boarder towns all through Mexico. I understand your since of warmth that these unique places bring. I am amazed that so many people in the US have been convinced it is otherwise and shy away out of blind fear!
    I am considering doing the same thing on a grander scale but since you got the ball rolling im gonna help push. I have reposted your stories on my site and will in my next newsletter.
    Well done sir Bravo!

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