Today I woke up at 7:00 A.M to get ready to go to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The interesting thing about Juarez is its colorful and notorious history. Over the past few years probably from 2012 and prior, Juarez had a high murder rate due to high levels of gang violence directed at civilians. This would lead people to call Juarez a Serial Killer’s Playground. That alone actually makes me nervous every time we go to Juarez.
But with that aside, I got up and took a shower then went to eat breakfast. The breakfast was actually pretty good since it had real good hash browns. There was also bacon and scrambled eggs but that hash brown man. I ended up not eating a lot. I just got a bit of everything with a cup of coffee and carton of chocolate milk. On TV were a bunch of pundits speculating on Mitt Romney’s bid for presidency. Therefore, it was a speculation of a speculation. After eating, I went back to the room to get ready to leave. The time by this point was 8:40 A.M.
After we left the hotel we went to meet with our friends in their hotel, which was about three to five miles away. When we got there we noticed that there were a lot of police near the lobby. Some of the police were even armed with M-16 assault riffles. To be honest I never did find out the official reason they were there. Besides from this, this particular hotel looked fairly nice too since I used the bathroom inside. After meeting up with our friends we went to Juarez.
Going to Juarez was fairly interesting. Its always weird to cross the boarder away from the U.S into another country. It’s a change of scenery, culture, and governance. The scenery of Juarez itself reminded me of the Philippines since it was crowded and fairly third world looking. Also the transportation system is a bunch of these colorful school buses. Some buses look more modern than the school buses. Because of this I’d imagine that the reason why there is no standardization in the buses is because they are not public and therefore privatized by different companies and people.
The first place we stopped at in Juarez was actually at a parking area near the rotary statue with a good view of the grande Mexican flag. We waited here for our guide to the house we were supposed to go to. It didn’t take to long for our guide to get there. We then headed to the house we were supposed to go to. Once there I met RJ the son of the minister in Juarez and we made small talk with the other ministers there. We then eventually left to go to the different stores for food. I got to ride with Bro. Doug and RJ.
The first store we went to was actually this local tamale restaurant. We went here mainly to order the tamales for the dinner later in store after the bible study. But, while we were here I got to try their chicken tamale and this very interesting guava drink. The tamale itself was real good as was expected from a tamale shop in Mexico. It blows those tamales from gas stations in Texas way out of the water. But the most memorable part was the interesting guava drink. The drink itself was served hot. But the consistency is hard to describe. It was think with a little guava pulp in it. I believe it was thickened with some sort of corn flour or maybe corn starch. Whatever it was made the drink really unique. In terms of taste, the natural guava flavor came out on top and really propelled the drink into its own league.
After the tamale shop we went to this farmers market looking place. A funny thing here is that since we rode on separate cars, we got here way a head of the other car. Because of this, we waited for a bit then thought they got lost or went somewhere else. We then actually left and circled the area for a bit in hopes of finding the other car. When we gave up we came back and a bit to our surprise they were there. I guess it just took them a while to get there. But once inside it was really interesting and colorful in a way. It was colorful due to the different products I’ve never heard of before. It was also interesting because they had this bucket of cheese rounds that I’ve only seen on TV beforehand. The crazy thing was that they had this cheese round with a knife in it so you could try it or buy it by the kg. I tried it and the cheese itself was most similar to mozzarella but with only a faint mozzarella taste. After this my dad told me to buy a small cheese round. For a bit I was worried since I wasn’t sure how much it would cost. But when I got up to the cashier she said that it was a bit over 1 kg and therefore cost $7.35 USD. It was actually a good deal considering a small slice of cheese in America would cost the same amount.
After this I looked around the store, and the way everything was in bulk kind of reminded me of a small Costco in a way. But I heard from AJ’s dad that the place was kind of like a grocery outlet where manufactures would sell overstock. But after looking at some things, I decided to get these Mexican snickers made of that De La Rosa stuff instead of nougat. Actually, I haven’t tried them yet but hopefully they are good. After that, I also got myself some spicy peanuts that I always see sidewalk merchants trying to sell. Both of these things cost about $3.00 USD. When we were about to leave we packed up Bro Doug’s truck with these heavy bags of beans. We then secured the truck and went back to the house.
At the house we unloaded those heavy bags of beans. I’m not sure of their exact weight but I wouldn’t be surprised if they weighed a hundred or more pounds. Afterward we went to Bro Doug’s house to actually jam band. Never in my life would I expect to jam band in Mexico! We played with this really talented drummer which for the life of me I cannot remember his name. It was actually a lot of fun and time went by quickly. I think around this time it was 2:30 P.M.
We then went back to the house, which for me by this moment felt like the event was starting. It felt like it was starting here since because everyone was there. What was cool was that I met a new sister named Hannah from Copperas Cove. She is actually pretty and I found out she happens to be a girl genius that’s thirteen in college. I then quickly started taking photos of everyone packing together the different outreach bags with beans, noodles, and other goodies.
It took some time to complete everything and I believe we finished packing all the bags and left for the venue around 3:30 P.M. The venue itself was in an interesting part of town. It looked a bit more destitute than the other side of the bridge where we came from. It’s hard to describe how much more destitute it looked by all the houses were small, bunched together, and all in need of extensive repair. All the houses and buildings in this area were drab in color and any part that could be rusted was rusted. There also seemed to be a lot of catholic symbolism everywhere. There were paintings of saints and other religious figures hanging on broken houses and broken windows. The main road itself was pocked full of potholes. Also for the most part, roads leading to the houses where nonexistent and were only dirt paved paths. It wasn’t pretty in this area.
But when we got to the venue, the local people immediately greeted us. They were incredibly nice and actually easily approachable. I remember this little old lady coming out of this house with big barking dogs and she was the kindest person you’ll meet in this side of Juarez. I also remember a bunch of the visitors actually waiting just outside the venue. They were all really nice and seemed happy to be waiting in the freezing weather to go inside. The venue itself seemed to look like some sort of community gym. The ground was cleared of all the gym equipment and in its stead were the chairs. The gym equipment were all to the side.
At this point of time I started taking as much photos and videos as I could. I started on the inside and worked my way outside and back inside. When I went outside I greeted more of the locals who were coming to our event. They were all nice. It was around this time where I also met Sis Sheryl who is a member in the Juarez locale. I then finished up the camerawork on the outside since it was starting to rain hard and get dark. When I checked my watch it was already 4:15 P.M. In my head I thought the bible study started already but it would actually start at 5:00 P.M. Throughout this entire time until the end of the bible study I was taking pictures and videos of the event.
(From left: Hannah, Me, AJ, Drummer Guy)
Afterwards, I asked AJ to help me get some interviews done. We ended up getting two interviews finished, which was really good and more than I could have done by myself. AJ and me would then chat for a bit and meet up with Hannah and the drummer to chat a bit more. Around this time we then started to pack up shop and start to leave. Apart of me did not want the night to end already and wished we could have all hanged out together a bit longer. But as the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man.
When we left the venue we then stopped by the house one more time to make sure everything is accounted for and then we all went on our merry way. Leaving Juarez wasn’t too bad. The border crossing went fairly smooth, the only sucky part was that our lane switched its open sign to closed and that got us stuck in line limbo for a while. Finally, when we did get to the border patrol officer he did one of those random checks where we had to stop the engine and he had to look inside the car. It wasn’t too bad but consumed a bit of time. From that point and now I was basically writing this. We just passed Hatch, NM home of the famous Hatch Chile. We should be in Albuquerque in two to three hours. From there it should be a good six to seven hours home.
Update: The drive from Albuquerque onward was a bit interesting. Around the Santa Fe-Las Vegas area it was actually snowing a lot. We had to drive around 50 MPH when the normal speed was 75 MPG. Afterwards, in the Raton area it became super foggy. It was so foggy you couldn’t even see some of the turns properly. The fog started to life somewhere down the Raton Pass thankfully. But the rest of the drive home was quiet and fairly well.