Sightseeing: Ciudad Juárez

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico is a huge city. Historically, it is the place where the adelitas were born, where the invention of the burrito was made and the place in which Margaritas were first drunk. For many of the habitants of this city, it is the home of great talents recognized as important celebrities such as Juan Gabriel, Tin Tan and even the great Ramon from El Chavo. But does it really have places for tourists? We present you some of the attractions of this beautiful city, full of hidden stories and vitality of its people.

One of the main attractions of Juárez is the richness of its platillos. The place where the first burrito was made couldn’t be left without recognition. We have a couple of places for you to go in case you are visiting Juárez and want to taste the magnificence of its culture. The first place is called Burritos Crisostomo. This burrito market is one of the most renown among the citizens of Juárez for its delicious guisados and its quick service for customers. There’s also Burritos Ximichú, which is known for its gigantic burritos and its famous food contests among the Juarenses. These burritos have almost the same guisados as Crisostomo, but their taste can be identified for its uniqueness.

Juarez also has Flautas La Pila, which is well known for its urban environment at the center of the city. This Flautas place has quite a fame that even Juarenses say you haven’t been in Juarez if you haven’t eaten at this place.

If you are craving tacos, Tacos Ajiji has the best tacos. These tacos are the most famous among Juarenses because of their pure taste. Plus, the restaurant has an enjoyable environment! If you are driving a car, be aware that you will have difficulty finding a parking place. The place is always a reventar. By looking at the delicious piña or buche at Ajiji, it’s no a wonder why many people enjoy tacos from Ajiji.

History in Ciudad Juarez is quite rich because of the important personalities that have stepped on this land. The city is named after Benito Juárez, one of the most recognized presidents of Mexico. This land was his refugee throughout the war of Reforma. Legend says the battle was quite a triumph, and during the battle it was necessary for Benito to stay in Juárez for his own sake; without the support of the city, he wouldn’t have succeeded during the war and we would probably still be under the domains of the church.

There’s so much history in Juarez, but there are a couple of landmarks that you have to visit, like the Casa de Adobe. This house is where Francisco I Madero became Provisional president during the Revolutionary War of Mexico. It is an important point of reference to the region itself and to the country for being the home of the intellectual who wanted to take away power from the dictator Porfirio Diaz. Known as “Rancho de las Flores” back then, the Casa de Adobe is a landmark where the whole maderista camp was settled and reunions were made. Now, it is a free admission museum decorated with all kinds of artifacts. Tourists can come to the museum and appreciate the place that once was the home of such important people to the Mexican Revolution.

Casa de Adobe is indeed a historical place, but let me tell you that this isn’t the only place where history is manifested. If you are a reader and you love to spend time reading a good book, we recommend that you go to the biggest library in Chihuahua: Biblioteca Central Carlos Montemayor at Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). It is a public library which consists of more than 3,000 books and even more in its online catalog.

Another fun place to visit is La Rodadora. This one of a kind museum has been recognized as one of the most important and dynamic museums of all Latin America, chicas! It is intended for kids to learn by playing and interacting with the environment by listening and acquiring a first sensory experience!

If museums aren’t your thing, there are wonderful sports and outdoor areas to enjoy, like the Stadium Benito Juárez. A good thing about Stadium Benito Juarez, besides being a place for football,soccer and athletics development, is that it is next to Parque Borunda. This place is known for its amazing jueguitos,which is the small version of a fair in Juarez. It also has carritos chocones in case you feel like driving and crashing into your friends. It is also known for its puestesitos of food and toys. Elotes, raspas and even chilindrinas are found at this small fair. It is a fun place to be if you want to hang out with your friends and eat something traditional from the city.

Another place to check out is the Central Park next to the Bachilleres gym. It is the biggest park in Ciudad Juarez and full of things to do! It has a main building where workshops from different activities are held, a library where you can find books with various topics (from university works to children stories) and art exhibitions from tarahumaras who have workshops about the customs of their culture. It is also the place for many events in Juarez, such as fairs, clown shows, and CONADE events (athletic organization), as well as government meetings. The peculiar thing about this park is that there are animals inside the park. They pass through every corner of the park at all time. Central Park has become their habitat, girls. These animals include ducks, gooses and even colored peacocks.

Juárez has a vibrant culture and atmosphere. From exquisite Mexican food to historically rich places, Juarez is an amazing city.

Mi Barrio: Del Rio, TX

map_of_del_rio_txI moved to Del Rio when I was six years old. It is located on the border of Acuna, Coahuila, Mexico. I have so much family in this city, and, since I grew up here, I have so many memories here. It has a special place in my heart no matter how small of a city it is.

Since Del Rio is a border town, the majority of the population is Hispanic. It is not too small to where it is considered a town, but it is also not too appropriate to be considered a city as if it were a larger city like San Antonio. It is a city that is not very close to larger cities. The largest cities close to Del Rio are San Angelo and San Antonio which are about two and a half hours away. Upon arriving to Del Rio, there is basically only one main road which is Veterans Boulevard. From this road, one can access all the other important streets. It has most of the restaurants and other businesses that can be easily accessed. Pretty much everyone in Del Rio knows or is related to someone you know. It can be convenient sometimes, but other times it can get pretty annoying, especially when all you want to do is go to Wal-Mart in peace. There are also a lot of Mexican restaurants, as one would imagine. Oddly enough, there are a lot of banks here, too.

There are not too many places to shop here, though. Teenagers have more fun at Wal-Mart than at the Mall. But then this gives everyone an excuse to make a special trip to San Antonio to do some shopping. There is also only one high school and one middles school but several elementary schools. There is also an air force base on the outskirts of Del Rio, so there are quite a few of military people in town.

Del Rio is growing slowly, but surely. Just recently, the speed limit on Veterans was raised from 30 to 35 and 35 to 40 in their respected areas. Although some people still drive at the previous speed limits, many are beginning to adapt. They are also bringing a Starbucks in the Fall of 2014 and possibly other chain restaurants and stores in the near future. The growth is exciting and there is always something to look forward to in this city.

Mi Barrio: Phoenix, AZ

I spent the early part of my childhood in Phoenix, AZ until my family moved to California, where I was actually born. It was a memorable time.

I remember our house. A small white house with green window flaps. There was a big front yard with two wire fences. The backyard was enormous but as I grew older, it got smaller. There was a garage in the backyard with a big tree. My dad built my brother and I a tree house. He also fixed up an old swing set he had found and it became my number one source of entertainment. I could swing all day. I would invite my neighbors and we would spend all day in the backyard.

I lived in a very peaceful neighborhood, on Turney Avenue. My mom and I would walk our dog every afternoon. The streets were always quiet, and the only noise I remember was the trees blowing in the wind. It’s difficult to describe in words how much fun I had with the kids in the neighborhood. Most entertainment was built on imagination. Boredom was not an option, or may have fueled the creative games we played. Just crawling under the bushes in the alleys could transport us into a new world. Having so many friends there was my favorite part about the city.

Every weekend my family and I would visit the shopping malls in Scottsdale. The car ride was my favorite part. The huge homes, or more like estates, in the mountains looked like princess castles or places like Chandler Mall had water fountain shows every Sunday night. Those malls sparked my love of shopping at a very young age.

Life in Phoenix was very pleasant. It was filled with friends, family and good memories. We tried to do everything that there was to do in Arizona: camping trips, going to the Grand Canyon, skiing in cities like Flagstaff. We traveled to Sedona, where the famous Red Rocks, a city known for its mystical nature.  We mini-golfed, swam, played tennis, hiked, and went to the river.

I am nostalgic thinking about Phoenix because I left so many good memories behind. It was my first home, and it was a time when life was perfect.

Pasadena, TX

I grew up in Pasadena, a city on the outskirts of Houston. My childhood memories make my hometown so special to me. Pasadena is where I had friends and family within walking distance, and I first learned how to drive on its streets.
There is a majority of Hispanics who live in Pasadena, so people share similar values and traditions, such as making tamales for Christmas. The urban setting is more active than a country setting, and you find people walking the streets to the grocery store, to the apartments, or wherever else they need to be. There are street vendors at many corners, selling juicy watermelons or beautiful flowers, and strip malls where you can find good bargains. My favorite restaurants are those that serve fresh-made food, not fast food. La Hacienda, or “my mom’s friend’s restaurant” as me and my three sisters like to call it, has great food at a low price. Nearby, you can satisfy your sweet tooth at El Nopal Bakery. This panaderia and pasteleria has it all: pastries, cookies, frozen ice cream bars, tres leches cake, churros, flan, capirotada (a bread pudding). The huge cake for the quinceñeria of each girl in the family, I had no brothers, came from El Nopal.
The best things to do in my hometown are going out to restaurants, shopping, or visiting places in Downtown Houston. The Metrorail will take you where you want to go, when you figure out the how the transportation system works. There are plenty of events to go to, whether it’s a volunteer activity, concert, or sports game. I have seen the Houston Dynamo play soccer and frequently go to the Toyota Center basketball court to cheer on my favorite sports team, the Houston Rockets.

You can find fun things to do inside the city as well. Neighborhood Network is a huge event for the community. People can meet, eat, and have fun. And kids can have a great time at the petting zoo, train rides, and a bunch of games including a life-size chess board. There is a rodeo on the Pasadena Fairgrounds, the Strawberry Parade, and the Christmas Lighting in front of city hall.

The weather is hot and humid, because it is so close to the gulf coast. People usually go to the beach in Galveston or visit Moody Gardens during vacations. Visitors should take a trip to the San Jacinto Monument, the world’s tallest war memorial at 570 feet high and a 220-ton, 34-foot high star on top. The monument is part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, located along the Houston Ship Channel. This historic landmark honors those who fought for Texas’ Independence and the Texas lone star on top commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, an important battle during the Texas Revolution. There is a museum at the base of the monument, a nice park and huge lake where people can relax, and a battleship tour available for visitors.

Pasadena High School, the school I attended, also has a lot of hometown history behind it. It is 50 years old and has seen big storms, renovations, and much school spirit also known as “eagle pride.” Some alumni became world war veterans, who are still honored in special school events.

I lived in Pasadena for almost 18 years and have moved since then. Although my family and I live 30 minutes away, I still feel like I am part of Pasadena. Who you are with and how your time is spent is a big part of your life experience. Any place can be special as long as you try to make it fun!

I still go back to Pasadena occasionally, when I want great Mexican food or some delectable donuts.

February 2011