Originally, I did not plan to go to Mexico on my trip to Eagle Pass. With the elections and the anti-Mexican sentiment, I didn't not sure how things would be in terms of attitudes towards Americans. When I was working at the booth, I asked how it was over across the border. I was told that it was perfectly safe as long as I was back before 6PM. I had no intention of being out past 6PM, so I figured I would go over and check out Piedras Negras.
After going to the casino and getting a good night's rest, I headed over to the bridge.
Knowing that they most likely took pesos, and also with a favorable exchange rate, I decided to exchange my money before heading over.
I walked to the bridge and then paid my toll.
Unlike Progreso or Juarez, there wasn't anyone hanging on the bridge trying to sell stuff. With my lack of being able to speak Spanish and only being able to pick out a few words, I have a feeling this sign had something to do with it.
One thing I noticed while walking across was a bunch of soccer fields with the border patrol right next to them. That has to be interesting with border patrol being that close. I wonder if they help referee the games.
I got a look at the other side before the supposed wall is going to go up.
I finally made it to the border line. There were a few plaques there.
Unlike the United States where it's a right to own a weapon, it's not so much of a right to own one in Mexico.
After walking across the bridge, I noticed the huge flag pole. I was told this is one of the biggest flags in Mexico. I think there was supposed to be crappy weather so they didn't have it out, but the pole was enormous.
I walked over to this other area that overlooked the river. I could see the United States well from there.
The plaza area was actually pretty nice. Just like Juarez, it does seem like Mexico is making a valid effort to clean things up and make it more pleasant for tourists.
Off in a distance, you could still see it was 'Ole Mexico.
The town name sign was pretty cool.
There was a cool statue and church in that area.
There were benches with a tile covering.
In the middle of the plaza was this bird statue art piece.
I walked over to the other side side of the plaza to another set of benches with the tile covers. This time, you could still tell you were in Mexico with the wires hanging out. I know by US safety standards, this would never fly.
As I was looking at them, a guy sitting on the bench said something. I couldn't quite hear him so I walked over and said hi. He spoke in decent English and we started talking a bit. He asked me if I was from Eagle Pass and I told him I was from Austin. He mentioned he lived in Chicago for a while and then I mentioned I was originally from Wisconsin. I then asked him where the nearest liquor store was and he got up and said he'd show me. Now you're probably thinking, this seems pretty sketchy. One thing I have found by traveling in the Valley of Texas and also into Mexico is people are insanely friendly and helpful. When I talk to the port supervisors at the booth and ask them about the other side, they give me tips and then give me their personal cell phone number in case I run into any issues. This has been the case at several ports and I have not asked for their number or anything. It's just the way they are. Well I had it in the back of my mind that this guy could be leading me somewhere else, but he was taking me down the road that I scouted on Google Maps, so it all seemed fine.
Another dead give away I was in Mexico was the drainage of the roads. They don't seem to have that down too well, so there was a lot of standing water.
We walked a couple blocks and made it to the liquor store.
The guy even acted as a translator for me and the shopkeeper. I asked him if he wanted one of the big 40oz'ers for his trouble and he mentioned he needed a dollar for the toll on the bridge. I gave him $2 as I was paying for the liquor.
We then walked back in the direction of the bridge.
He went back to the bench he was sitting and I kept walking with my bottles to the bridge. Suddenly, he got up and came across the street again. He wanted to sell me his USA flag necklace that he was wearing for $10. I don't wear jewelry and that definitely felt really sketchy so I declined and went back to the bridge. There was a plaque on the bridge, but you could tell just by the sidewalk which country you were in.
When I got to the US border station, I was greeted by an eagle and a long line.
At least I didn't have to wait in my car, like the other people. Their line seemed to move much slower.
I paid the federal and state taxes on my liquor. The tax almost came out to the same as I paid for the liquor.
After paying the taxes, I hit the road back to Austin. It was a 4 hour drive and I was happy to get back and out of the stop and go traffic of both San Antonio and Austin. It was cool that I got to see Piedras Negras and also the only casino in Texas as well as combining this to be a work trip. I had planned on hitting up the casino, but being able to go to Mexico was an added bonus. The crazy thing is, between Progreso, Juarez, and now Piedras Negras, I had basically been to Mexico 3 times in a month. I think I might have to take a few more trips if things remain safe and US relations remain somewhat stable (or visit before they become unstable).