A State Department travel advisory strongly suggests that Americans not to travel to Juarez, where 3,100 people were killed in 2010 alone, so I was a little apprehensive before crossing the border. I had a lot of people telling me that I was out of my mind to be going over there. But I took extra precautions: putting copies of my passport in my shoe, making sure a friend had the number to the American Consulate in Juarez.
There were no lines trying to cross the border as in other border cities like Tijuana. Usually when I go to TJ, it takes a few minutes to cross over and I end up sitting my car for at least 2 or 3 hours on the way back. Here it took no time to cross over and 15 minutes to cross back. I guess no one really wants to go to Juarez.
I was surprised at what I saw when I arrived in Juarez. The streets were filled with people out and about. There was some kind of festival going on in a park and it was overflowing with colorful dancers and people having fun. People looked happy and relaxed. I only saw the cops twice and they didn't look like the ruthless thugs that newspapers make them out to be. I was strongly advised not to take pictures of them, told I would be arrested. I did it anyway and nothing happened.
Juarez has some beautiful old buildings and there are parts that are quite lovely. There is a brand new shopping mall with stores just like we have in America. Juarez was less like a war zone and more like and everyday American city. Everyone was very friendly and I almost forgot I was in one of the deadliest places on Earth.