Our mission team flew into San Antonio on Saturday afternoon and then drove about 2 hours to the border town of Eagle Pass. It was a surprise to see a typical American strip after an hour of seeing nothing but scrubby bushes and cactus. It was getting dark by the time we crossed the bridge across the Rio Grande and into Mexico. The bridge was long but the river itself was much narrower than I had imagined it. When Mike pushed the button (a large version of what we pressed to go through “Aduanas” in the airport in Cancun) and we got the green light I started feeling the familiarity of the country I used to call home. It was a short drive through the dark streets of Piedras Negras to the Plaza Hotel, but by the time we arrived the song “México en la Piel” and its chorus of “Asi se siente México” (this is how Mexico feels) was repeating through my head.
I set out on this trip expecting to find the north of Mexico extremely different from the south. Piedras Negras and Cancun are 1736 miles apart, one as dry as the other is humid, but the sense of being in Mexico is the same. The food, the people and the architecture have more in common than I had imagined. From the Caribbean shore to the Bolsón de Mapimí desert there really is a certain feeling that is Mexico.
Even now, back home with my very own Mexicanos, my eyes feel a bit damp when I listen to this song. I really do love Mexico. And I just want to let anyone who may read this know: there was not any moment that I was in Piedras Negras when I felt unsafe. We walked through a public park after dark, and went door to door in Nava inviting people to our Health and Beauty Clinic. (The only time I left even a little bit nervous was when a dog in in Nava didn’t want to stop barking at us. I crossed to the other side of the street to give him some space and we were both fine.) I know there are parts of Mexico where we gringos should not go. The area around Juarez is still not be a place I would like to visit, but I not only want to visit Piedras Negras again, but I would like to take my children with me next time.