Would you like to take a quick trip with me to a small United States-Mexico Bordertown?
This is Nogales, Arizona, my hometown. It shares a border with Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. I have lived here the majority of my life. When I turned 18, I moved 60 miles north, to Tucson, Arizona in order to attend the University of Arizona. The majority of my family still lives here, including my parents, so this is home for me.
The physical border fence literally cuts through the middle of Ambos Nogales (both Nogales), which was one community prior to the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, which transferred territory from Mexico to the United States and allowed for the construction of the territorial divide.
This is the pedestrian crossing of the border. It's often referred to as, La Garita, which means small building or shelter. In the photo above, Mexico is on the right, and the U.S. is on the left.
As I was driving through downtown Nogales, AZ, I saw people talking to their friends and family members through the fence. It's strange, because although the fence is intended to separate the U.S. from Mexico, both cities still rely on each other very much in terms of cross-border trade, commerce, and the social and familial ties that residents of both sides have come to share.
As I made my way a short ways north and away from the border fence up Morley Avenue, I decided to stop at the post office. I had never really realized what a beautiful building it is until now. The original courthouse (on the right in the picture below), which is now only open as a historical site, is fantastic to me with its domed roof.
Incidentally, if you head out to watch The Hangover III, you will see this same building dressed up as the police station that the guys are taken to in "Tijuana."The portion of the film that they say is Tijuana, was actually filmed in downtown Nogales, AZ. It was a highly exciting moment for the city when they filmed here.
The courthouse is one of my favorite buildings. I don't know if it's the stone bricks or the columns, but I really just adore this building. When I was a kid I took art classes here. I used to escape from my art teacher and wander the halls. The doors to each room had frosted glass that always piqued my interest. I used to want to be an investigator just to be able to have a cool office in a court house like that.
I turned around and headed back toward the border on Morley Avenue only to get stuck at the train tracks. The train tracks run right through the middle of the city. There is a way to get around the train, but it is sometimes faster to just wait. When I was a teenager, the train would often make me late getting home, as it passed through just minutes before my curfew. No matter what I did, I was always late getting home, and I was usually cursing the train the whole road home.
Because I couldn't get out of the mini traffic jam the train stop created, I decided to head into one of my favorite stores. La Cinderella is a locally owned shop that has the best jewelry, shoes, and accessories. The most wonderful thing about it, is that the prices are totally affordable. It's by far one of my most favorite places to shop. This particular location, makes a cameo in The Hangover III, as well. (I took the photo below from my car, so the spots are courtesy of my dirty window :) sorry).
I took a short walk through downtown Nogales. Some of the vintage store signs have been preserved on the storefronts, even though the current store has nothing to do with it's original structure. The Woolworth has these great curved windows at the front. I also couldn't help but catch the tiny police car. It always makes me laugh.
As I made my way home, I decided to stop at the elementary school I went to. The building used to seem so large to me when I was a kid, but now, it seems smaller than I remember it.
Just up the street from Lincoln School, is the best raspado (shaved ice) place I have ever been to. It's called the Finitos, which is a Spanish descriptive term for how fine the shaved ice is. It is like the fluffiest most ground up ice, and when combined with the natural flavors that they make in-house, these raspados just can't be beat.
Having a shaved ice treat is literally a treat in Southern Arizona. When I tell people I grew up in the desert, they don't believe me, but it's true. Cacti, ocotillo, and desert wildlife is regular living for me, not to mention the sweltering heat.
I spent a lot of time out in the desert, and not so much time in the city. My parents still live in the same neighborhood I grew up in. It's about a fifteen minute drive from the city center. We can see the border from the house (it's on the rolling hills in the center of the photo below).
As I took this picture, I realized that the wild fires burning over the hillsides to the east were filling the sky with smoke. Unfortunately, that is a regular occurrence in these parts, as well.
This isn't everything my hometown has to offer, but it's a short tour for you. Hope you enjoyed it.
Until next time.