29 May 2009

Road Map:: Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (Mexico)

As many of you may or may not know, I spent a big chunk of my childhood living on the border, speaking Spanish and watching 80's cartoons like She-Ra and G.I. Joe. I still have family there, so on occasion, we make the trip to my parents' homeland.

It's greatly disheartening that this second hometown of mine has become a battlefield for drugs and violence. The current economic outlook has affected everyone around the world, but Nuevo Laredo started its decline long ago. If you're a citizen of Nuevo Laredo, you take a great risk going out, sometimes even in daylight. Tourism is way down and shops have been going bankrupt for years. The club scene is not as carefree as it was a decade ago. Newspapers aren't reporting incidents ever since the newspaper offices got sprayed with gunfire. Such is the fear that drug lords can create.

See this bumper sticker? It says "Paz en los 2 Laredos vale la pena," which means "Peace in both Laredos. It's worth it." By the 2 Laredos, one means Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side and Laredo, Texas on the American side. Both cities are physically divided by the Rio Grande (or el Rio Bravo, as I always knew it) but now they're divided by a contrasting number of daily crimes.

I remember the one and only library in Nuevo Laredo in the 80's. It was as large as a normal classroom in the middle of a park square. I have a vague memory of going in once with my mother but not being impressed with the dearth of kiddie books.

Now, though, there are two new-ish options for the literate, and I was able to visit both of them. YEAH!

a) Biblioteca Pública Municipal Profr. Rubén Miranda Villalba
Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (03.14.09)

My street smart cousin drove us to the library but felt a tad uncomfortable by my jumpy tradition. I realize that I shouldn't call too much attention to ourselves, even in the daytime, but we couldn't resist. This library is really close to a park, where a few men watched me do my ridiculous jumpy "dance."

I wanted to take a light-hearted picture in a somber setting, but don't I look like a bit of a dumbass? My pose either belies my glamourous librarian nature or confirms my dorkiness. I'm fine with either.

More pictures to come, including those taken at Estacion Palabra, a lovely building dedicated to the first man I ever wanted to marry, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.