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  • PAPERSKY #12 TEXAS MEXICOPHOTOGRAPHY: PAPERSKY

Diaries of the Texas Mexico Borderland

, 2005/01/25

We got our first glimpse of the Texas-Mexico border in a town called Laredo. At International Bridge #1, the most heavily trafficked point of entry along the entire border, thousands of people line up to cross in both directions over the Rio Grande River. Some are going to shop, some for work, others to visit friends and family.

Beneath the bridge another scene plays out. Patrolmen zip back and forth waiting for a couple of “illegals” to make a break for Texas from the brush along the banks of the river. A man on the Mexico side calls out to his two friends to steer them away from capture. The men wait for nightfall, the Border Patrol wait patiently, and above, the traffic on the bridge keeps flowing. The complexities, and the inevitability, of the Texas-Mexico relationship are plain to see.

As we drove the single highway that connects Texas towns in the predominantly Hispanic Rio Grande river valley, we encountered a region where two utterly distinct cultures have utterly fused-all of the food, the music, the lifestyle and the language are products in seemingly equal parts of both Texas and Mexico.

At one point, we came across a house with hundreds of roosters in a front yard and stopped to take a picture. A woman stepped off the porch and walked down the driveway towards us. Our NY photographer gave a half-wave, perhaps wondering about the implications of trespassing in the wild west. But the woman invited us inside. “My mother says you would get a better picture if you came in.” As it turned out, we were invited into living rooms throughout the region, receiving a warmth and hospitality that was for some reason surprising. Texas’regions along the border are more often than not thought of as bleak desert expanses, where few people other than illegal Mexican immigrants making a dash to northern city centers venture. What we found was an entire culture and its rich past set amidst a beautiful physical landscape.

Despite relative poverty, political puzzles and the weight of history, for better or worst, we found two societies joined as one.

PAPERSKY #12: TEXAS MEXICO | borderland

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