JUAREZ, Chihuahua Mexico / EL PASO, Texas - Surrounded by Juarez youngsters in the water, ABC-7's Paul Cicala sank knee deep into the Rio Grande, just south of the border fence. He then, energetically shouted: "Next time you are -that- El Paso resident who angrily proclaims: 'There's nothing to do in the border area' ... Well, think again! There's much to offer here on both sides of this historic river."
Then, Cicala and the kids from Juarez started running to a ball, throwing it around in the water, swimming around, and, well -- HAVING FUN!! It was the end of a long day in which Cicala continued his quest to prove to borderland residents there -is- a wide array of history, culture and entertainment worth seeing in the El Paso/Juarez area. You truly have to open your eyes, and your mind, and find the POSITIVE our border southwest region has to offer.
Hundreds of Juarez residents take advantage of the river every week -- mostly by swimming, having picnics, or just enjoying nature along the river. The water isn't as deep as it once was. However, residents of Juarez still seem to treasure the river that's been a geographical staple in history for centuries.
Only about a generation ago, El Pasoans (US citizen) utilized the Rio Grande for recreation purposes. Before the era of border buildup, big fences and controlled water flow of this historic river, many El Pasoans would take part in activities up and down the river.
Less than a mile west of downtown El Paso, there's one particular part of the Rio Grande where three states meet: Dona Ana County, NEW MEXICO / El Paso, TEXAS / Juarez, CHIHUAHUA. And from that point, not only can you enter and take in the beauty of the Rio Grande, there's also opportunities for neighbors from the two nations to meet in person, face to face.
Paul Cicala demonstrated how unique the area is by standing on U.S. Soil and reaching over the international line with a microphone and interviewing residents of Juarez (literally, neither party crossed the international boundary on foot). Also, with the permission of onlooking Border Patrol agents, Cicala passed over 20 pesos to a man on the other side selling chicharones, raspados and other Mexican goodies. Once again, nobody crossed the international line on foot! The gentleman handed over the snack food, reaching over to the U.S. Side with no problem! (again, neither party setting foot on the other country's soil.) It's a unique area of the border, that you can only find in the EL Paso/Juarez area.
Also, just a few feet away sits the historic "Casa Gris", an adobe structure where historical leaders like Pancho Villa and Francisco Madera helped plan and execute the Mexican revolution around a century agao. It's an area so interesting, historic and vibrant with culture, in order to truly see it .. You have to .... WELL, SEE IT! -- IN PERSON! (or by scrolling up from this story, and clicking on the video of Cicala's report you see above)!
There are giant pillars that mark U.S. & Mexican Territory, complete with plaques commemorating the Plan de Ayala and other agreements between both countries. On the U.S. side of the border, there are also historical landmark sites talking about the significance and history of the area, and how it's on the centuries-old route "The Camino Real" (the route taken by Spaniards as early as the 1500's from Mexico City to Zacatecas to El Paso Norte to Santa Fe and back again).
Whether you get in the water or not, it certainly a magical, historical spot worth visiting along the U.S. - Mexico border.
Don't forget!! There's lots to do in our borderland. You just have to open your mind and, well .. "Just Do It!".