Sunday, August 12, 2007

A trip across the border to Nuevo Progresso

On Saturday, Anita and I ventured to Nuevo Progresso, just on the other side of the Rio Grande in Mexico. This was our first time visiting this popular tourist trap. The town would obviously not exist without American shoppers. The first thing I noticed over there was the numerous dentist and doctor offices on the main dusty drag just across the international bridge. I suppose people come across the border to have their teeth or body worked on. I don't know how comfortable I would be to do something like that, but if you can't afford something in the United States, at least there is a cheaper option. I really wonder if there is a difference in the quality of care. The main drag is littered with shops selling things from bootleg CDs to woven blankets to ceramic pottery to prints of Frida Kahlo paintings. There are street-side vendors selling food, including cabrito tacos (baby goat meat) and lonches (meat sandwich). For the vegan, there really are slim pickings. There was one guy roasting corn. Anita had an ear and really enjoyed it. There are places that sell chilled cut fruit in cups. When Mexicans buy it, it is common for them to sprinkle a hot chili pepper/lime/salt powder on it. You can buy cheap spices over there, and you can pick up some avocados (Vendors remove the pit and put a chili in the middle because you can't take a whole avocado across the border). Of course, there were lots of places selling alcohol. Tourists walked up and down the streets clinging to their beers. The voices of some tourists belting out choppy lyrics would drift out from karaoke bars. There were also a lot of beggars, waving cups or their hands, hoping for some donations. Nuevo Progresso is probably considered a prosperous city by Mexican standards, but even so, there's a lot of desperation. It really makes me sick watching Americans living it up, getting plastered in the open-air bars while a poor malnourished Mexican sits on the sidewalk a few feet away trying to draw the notice of any passerby.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure there are towns in worse conditions, especially in the South, but I don't think Nuevo Progreso is considered prosperous at all, at least in my eyes(as a Mexican), it really is not. It's just a bordertown, it gets some benefit from having an international bridge but most of the bridge's benefits just go through to Monterrey, Mexico city, etc, after all it's just a bridge, and a small bridge, btw.
    I've been to Nuevo Progreso a couple of times just on my way to Mercedes, to avoid the incredibly long lines at Reynosa and Pharr bridges.
    I wonder what the difference in health costs is, but I guess it's considerable, since there are many doctor/dentist offices along the main road. It's kind of a funny mix though along that street, bars, souvenir shops, lots of vendors, and doctor/dentist offices. Oh, and lots of drugstores, like right after the bridge in Reynosa, something like 10 drugstores on the same street, haha. International economics at work.
    Oh, I love roasted corns, white corn. I'm not so keen on the street food, those guys don't have the best hygiene...
    I knew about the avocado embargo, but had no idea about the individual import procedure. I used to hate avocado, now it's a staple, and this is the case with many other things I didn't like at all when I was a meat eater.