saturday-open-market-ciudad-juarez

A Saturday Afternoon in Ciudad Juárez

The sites, smells and sounds of the open air market in Juarez made for a fun Saturday afternoon.

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We are staying about 10 miles from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. It didn’t make sense to us NOT to go there and do a little exploring. We asked a few people on their thoughts regarding crossing the border. One of our fellow campers in the RV park cautioned against it. He is a lifelong El Paso resident and asked us why we wanted to go to Mexico when there was so much to do around here. We agreed that El Paso has a lot to offer.

Andy asked several people at the hospital where he is working and got a mixed response. Some told him, no way, there is nothing there to see. Others said that they didn’t see any problems with it.

We decided that we couldn’t be this close to the border and not go across. So, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went to Juárez. Because we did not feel completely comfortable driving across the border and finding a place to park, we opted to park in downtown El Paso and walk across the pedestrain bridge.

We parked close to Stanton Street, put money in the parking meter (taking notice of the time and how long we thought we would be gone), and headed south across the bridge.

The Stanton Street bridge, also known as “The Good Neighbor Bridge” was not busy. In fact, there was only one other person walking across. Before long, we saw the border crossing sign on the bridge and we were in Mexico.

 

The gentleman working at the border crossing was very helpful. He asked us what we were wanting to do and when we told him some site seeing and shopping, he directed us to walk a few streets west to Av. Benito Juàrez where an outside market was being held. There are many shops there are well. He cautioned us that we would not be able to walk back across this bridge into the United States. We would need to go a few blocks over and cross the Paso del Norte Bridge. We paid our .50 tolls into the turnstile, thanked him for his assistance and began our walk into Juàrez.

As we headed in the west, we saw many others walking in the same direction. It didn’t take us long to reach Av. Benito Juarez.2F7A5409

There are exchange “banks” all along the street, converting dollars into pesos, and back again. We decided to convert some money into pesos before we did any shopping.

We walked slowly down the sidewalk towards the market place. Along the way, there were vendors selling food, souvenirs, clothing and various other items. We politely declined their offers, since we wanted to look around before making any purchases.

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We liked the band on the roof of the El Mariachi Restaurant
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We arrived at the open air market. It was much larger than we had expected.
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This booth is an example of the colorful and unique items offered for sale in the market place.
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Street entertainers, such as this miner, were set up throughout the market

2F7A5420This “Abrazo Monumental” sculpture of an angel embracing a dying woman by artist Jorge Marin was a bit controversial when it was first installed. We learned the original placement was close to the Cathedral.

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A family band’s music is enjoyed by several dancers in the crowd.
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Cathedral of Ciudad Juarez on Calle 16 de Septiembre, across from Plaza de Armas
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A table of sweets across from the Cathedral. The bees seemed to be keeping customers away.

After walking for over an hour, we needed to find a restroom. There were no free public restrooms. Being hesitant to pay 5 pesos, get handed a few sheets of toilet paper and go down an alley to use a restroom, we decided to keep walking and see what other options we could find. Across from the Cathedral was a Wendy’s – with restrooms for paying customers. We bought Frosty’s and we got into the restroom line.

No, we didn’t go into a local restaurant and have lunch. We really weren’t hungry. We only had a few hours on the meter and wanted to use all the time we had to walk around.

After our Wendy’s break, we continued our stroll around Plaza de Armas.

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Traditional dancers
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Drummers providing the music for the dancers
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Far side of the Plaza. Vendors were all around the park.

Soon it was time to head towards the Paso del Norte Bridge. We used Google Maps on our phone to point us in the correct direction.

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Cars existing a tunnel up to the main road

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2F7A5500As we walked along, we put dollars into the buckets of street musicians and entertainers. We also stopped in a shop and purchased a blanket.

When we got to the bridge, we realized we needed exact change for the turnstile. We had no change and no dollar bills. We had a $20. A very helpful young man explained to us how much money we needed for the machine. It was the same as on the U.S. side, .50 each. We quickly (the meter was ticking in downtown El Paso) walked to the first exchange bank we saw, asked the teller if she could break the $20, rather than exchange it for pesos. We explained we needed change to go back across the bridge. She seemed a bit hesitant at first, then gave us the needed amount of coin along with the bills.

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Walking towards the pedestrian walkway on the Paso Del Norte bridge

Walking back was a very different experience. The pedestrian walkway was crowded with not only others crossing the bridge, but with vendors selling their wares. There were also vendors in the auto lanes, running from car to car trying to sell souvenirs. Some were offering to wash windows.2F7A5521

When we crossed into the United States, we followed the pathway into the customs lanes. After showing our passports, answering a few questions regarding our purchases and purpose for going into Mexico, we were allowed back into Texas. We quickly walked back to our car, with a few minutes to spare.

We are using the blanket we bought to cover a recliner in our RV. It looks great!

If you would like to see more pictures from our day in Juárez, check out our Photography by Andreas facebook page.

Feel free to leave a comment or ask us a question about out visit. We would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

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