As long as I can remember I loved trips to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. We lived a mere 70 miles north of the Mexican border and the ever-changing City of Nogales. We had traveled through on our way to Guaymas many times when I was a child but only stopped long enough to obtain a visa and move on. It seemed as soon as we crossed the border, life immediately changed.
We often crossed at night so I had to strain to see the city as dimly lit buildings flashed past the open truck window. Delicious smoke from open fire grills and outdoor stoves made me want to stop and stay with the families. Later my older sister would be allowed to take a high school trip with her friends and returned with colorful stories and fancy souvenirs.
It would be years until I would be old enough for my parents to let me go on my own. Nogales offered just what I needed as a teen in the 70’s. Leather shops, blankets hanging in the sidewalks, colorful wood carvings and ceramics everywhere. Now mixed with the delicious smell of Mexican food and firewood was leather, wood and hot blankets in the sun.
Since then we have made several friends, visited houses on the cliffs, stayed too long, not long enough…Nogales. I love the smells of this city. We found a Cantina on a back road with chicken cooking on a grill outside and the smell was AMAZing! There were many locals waiting in line for their order. A friendly man saw me taking pictures and came out to tell us that yesterday the streets were flooded with 5 or 6 meters of rain. He showed us the pictures of the arches across the street barely above the waterline. I didn’t get his pictures but below is the picture of the approaching storm. We are all hoping it would not flood like yesterday. Shops were ready with sandbags and everyone was optimistic. It seems Nogales has grown up right along with me. Medical tourism is now a large source of income. Pharmacies and dental offices line the streets where blankets once hung over sidewalks. Medication may cost less than half here. My favorite dentist is here. We like to wander before and after appointments. Of course one MUST stop at La Roca to eat.
The plaza is cool and inviting. Bright Colors and art adorn the sidewalks.Walking back over the bridge we are above the lines of cars crossing the border from Mexico into the USA.There are still some tourist shops. These young men played dominoes to pass the time during the slow summer season. The intense one on the right is winning. Curios still line the streets as traffic leaves Mexico to enter the US.Old meets new.
There is a feeling when I cross the border through the turnstyle, walking on slick tile, then the bricks, past the chatter of the taxi drivers, toward the main street of Obregon. Although the city changes with the needs of the tourists, the people and the city we love stays the same. Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.