Difference between revisions of "Juarez"
Revision as of 20:10, 5 May 2008
Near the Stanton Street bridge in downtown El Paso, most visitors that come for a single day choose to park on the US side of the border and walk across the bridges as to avoid dealing with the chaotic Juarez traffic and long waits for vehicles reentering the United States. Parking is generally $3.00 U.S. near the bridges.hhhhh
Abraham González Airport (IATA|CJS) (ICAO|MMCS) offers flights to destination in Mexico, particularly Chihuahua, Monterrey, and Mexico City. El Paso International Airport (IATA|ELP) is the most convenient airport for U.S. travelers .
Juarez is a large Mexican city located in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. While you are undoubtedly in Mexico, you are nowhere near the tropical Mexico with beautiful beaches and Aztec and Mayan culture many people expect. Juarez is home to the Mexican Vaquero (Cowboy) culture and you should be much more likely to encounter people resembling cowboys than any other vision of a Mexican one might have. However, Juarez is rich in the northern culture of Mexico, and most travellers will find this more charming and realistic than the culture they experience at many other locales that are not off the beaten path in Mexico.
However, special attention must be paid to the criminal situation in Juarez, as well as the city and state of Chihuahua in general; there have been recent revelations of police corruption in the area, some incidents quite violent in nature as they pertain to the border area's prevalence in illegal drug and/or human trafficking. Also, visitors, especially females, should be aware of the sexual violence/murder rate amongst the female populace; since 1993, perhaps earlier, hundreds of women, most of them underpaid workers at sweatshops known as "maquildoras," have been killed by persons unknown, their bodies found beaten, raped, tortured and murdered in all manner of ways in and around Juarez. As most of the victims are local women, deemed by their killers and indeed quite often by those investigating their deaths to be disposable, foreign visitors shouldn't have much to worry about as long as they follow their common sense; if you don't venture out alone into suspicious areas of town, particularly after dark, don't make obvious your personal wealth to strangers, and if you stay well clear of any illegal activity, particularly involving drug purchase/smuggling, you should be fine. Just remember before you think about potentially getting in over your head regarding these matters: the Mexican police are notoriously lacking in concern for those whose activities are considered "high-risk," the U.S. Border Patrol can also be quite mercurial about these matters, and neither American nor Mexican prisons are very enticing places to spend one's vacation.
There is a public bus system in Juarez; however, it is not very easy to use and is often overlooked by tourists. In general, buses have their end destination on a board in the front window. They make frequent stops, and often run in close succession to one another; if you miss a bus another of the same route is likely to appear in a matter of minutes. Many routes continue to run overnight - exercise extreme caution on buses at night, and buses that go into poorly policed barrios of the city (especially to the west and south)
Taxis are abundant and inexpensive, always ask for the ride fee and if possible ask two different drivers to get the best fare. Taxis are not metered - and initial fares may be given based on one's percieved ability to pay (a tourist or wealthier Mexican may be quoted a higher fare). However, most sites of touristic interest in Juarez can be reached by walking in the historic center. Upon arrival in Juarez it is likely that most foreigners will received by a plethora of taxi drivers offering to drive them to the market. While the market cannot be seen from the border crossing it is a relatively short walk - after crossing the Santa Fe street bridge, walk down Avenida Juarez to 16 de Septiembre, turn left and then walk about seven blocks (street blocks are much smaller in Juarez than in neighboring El Paso).
Most larger businesses have parking lots with attendants that will ask for a nominal fee ($0.25 US, or two to three pesos). Watch where you park. Cars that are illegally parked on streets may have their license plates removed by a transit cop. The idea is to ensure you will pay the fine before leaving the country (and your plates should be returned after doing so). If this happens to you, the ticket should indicate where to pay your fine, should you chose to do so (you should be able to re-enter the United States in any event, though you may face some added complications with a missing plate).
Juarez is unlike many border towns in that it is a major city with over a million inhabitants. However, most foreign tourists will still enjoy the same elements of stereotypical Mexican culture that they do in other border towns such as Nogales, Tijuana, and Nuevo Laredo.
Typical Mexican souvenirs such as blankets, pottery, and trinkets themed in Mexican culture.
Make sure to haggle as it will be expected. The merchants speak English and are constantly encountering Americans so you will not seem very foreign to them if you are not Mexican yourself.
Dont forget the "burritos"
Be aware that you can't drink in public places or in the street, ask before.
Juarez has its fair share of local and international hotels. However, many travellers will find it easier to spend the night across the Rio in El Paso, as it is a large American city with all the usual American services.
In recent years, Cd. Juárez has earned a reputation as a very dangerous city. Most of the time, this violence does not directly target tourists or foreigners - except for those who become involved with drug trafficking. Violent crime generally does not affect heavily trafficked tourist areas, such as the downtown area, or the main shopping centers and markets. If you are concerned about safety, go with a partner or group, and visit during the daytime.
The downtown districts do fill with intoxicated club and bar goers at night, though authorities in both Juárez and El Paso have limited underage drinking. Still, a drunken fight or barroom confrontation can escalate into serious violence, so be careful. Higher end clubs will very openly discriminate against anyone who looks like "trouble" (shaved heads, tattoos, gang clothing, or even a working class appearance), but they should be safer to visit. Also keep in mind, in traditional Mexican bars or cantinas, unaccompanied women may be seen as "fair game" or may even be rather unwelcome - bars known as "Ladies Bars" are more accepting and tolerant of female patrons.
While sampling Mexican beer and tequila is highly recommended for a tourist, it is probably wise to avoid heavy drinking in an unfamiliar border city. It is also best to keep a close watch on drinks in nightclubs, as they may be spiked by strangers.
Currently, Juárez is being patrolled by the Mexican army, in an attempt to crack down on crime. Mexican military personnel are generally professional and polite, if intimidating with their automatic weapons. It is best to avoid attracting attention from police. Also, while "mordidas" or bribes are widespread, don't immediately assume a $20 dollar bill will get you out of any situation. Most police officers will at least go through the formality of writing a ticket, asking questions, or writing a report before any "arrangement" takes place. One serious word of caution. Do not be caught with any type of weapon in Mexico. This can include a small pocket knife, or even ammunition or bullet casings. American motorists have been jailed for driving into Mexico with spent ammunition casings in their car trunk.