Walk Across What???
Juarez seems 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.
But the actual situation and threat to US citizens is actually much different than what we expect based on press reports. I will walk across this border city from the Rio Grande to the south neighborhoods and simply report what I see moment by moment…and let the results speak some reality into the situation.
When is this?
For three days, Friday, August 19 to Sunday August 21, 2011 I will amble through this border city.
Who I am:
I am the owner and lead guide of Authentic Copper Canyon, the premier supplier of culturally rich small group experiences on the train through Copper Canyon, Mexico. I have a deep love and respect for the people and land of Mexico. Our groups often travel through the border in the Juarez/St Teresa area, and I am pursuing this walk as a small step in bringing understanding and connection across the border.
Purpose: To give a clear view of life right now on the streets of Juarez from an outsider’s point of view. People on the US side are filled with negative images only and this will give an actual moment by moment story of what it is actually like on the ground in Juarez.
Certainly some of the impetus for this comes from me and others in the guide community that wonder how we can do better. There have been zero incidents involving tourists and we aren’t sure how to improve that stat. Yet, the overwhelming assumption is that this area is deadly dangerous. The Mexicans there just wag their heads when we discuss it with them…and they often point out what an issue we or other countries have with insecurity and tourism.
Plan: Enter Juarez by the Bridge of the Americas on Thursday evening or Friday morning and simply walk across the city. I will stay overnight, interact with people, etc. Moment by moment I will send pictures, text, audio and videos via twitter and blog to followers across the USA and the world. Then I will follow with more in-depth articles and videos of the experience.
Rational: Many of us who work or live in Mexico have been frustrated by the one-sided perspective that most US side folks hold to of everyday life in the border areas.
Of course there are serious problems there. Yet when people travel there, almost all of them are amazed at how tranquil it is. So if it is possible to take a larger number of people there via the internet, perhaps they can understand more accurately how it is that there are not serious concerns with tourist travel to Mexico now. More broadly this little journey may help to renew respect and interaction.
Perspective: The idea is not to make a political point, but rather to communicate an accurate, on the ground picture of what life is like. I will not carry signs, make political or policy statements, meet with officials, etc. I will simply walk a path across the city to include busy streets, parks, markets, stores, restaurants, etc, and the message will be whatever I experience.
Interestingly as I have been preparing for this walk, 100 % of the people who know something about Juarez have very strong cautions. On the other hand, 100% of the people who live there or who know it well are very positive. Perhaps my observations will help connect those two groups.
Dave Hensleigh, 217.369.9897, firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Aug 19, 20, and 21 twitter @CopperCanyonGuy