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Saturday, September 28, 2013

All About Arizona - Naco on the Border

Naco is a tiny little town that straddles the U.S./Mexico border just south of Bisbee, Arizona.  I first visited in 1997.  I had gone to Mexico to shop in Nogales before that, but wanted to see another view of Mexico.  It was so quaint.  Here's what it basically looked like in 1997.  The only different is as you look to the right of the picture, there is a permanent block across the road I traveled in 1997.

Funny story I love to tell about Naco.  In 1997 I was driving through the little village on the U.S. side when I came to what looked like a broken down toll booth.  I drove through and realized I had just crossed the border.  I didn't see anyone and thought: This must be the way they do the border in small towns. 

I kept driving down the charming street with little pushcarts and a town square.  Suddenly, a large red Dodge truck drove up next to me with a big guy in shades at the wheel.  He was motioning me back toward the border.  Realizing he was a federale, I went back.  OOPs.  I had passed the border station, which was a couple of Mexican officers sitting in front of a little store to the side of the "toll booth."  Wow, did I get scolded in Spanish (which I don't speak)!  They also searched my car - thoroughly!

I drove back down the street, stopping in a little liquor store.  I bought a six pack of Pacifico in mini bottles and drove back to the border.  Wow, there was a huge building at the U.S. side and I drove up to a new inspection lane.  I didn't realize you could only take 2 liters of alcohol back to the U.S. and the border control agent made me turn around and go back into Mexico to get rid of the alcohol.  This time, the federales REALLY searched my vehicle!  I gave the alcohol away to some guy down the street and headed back to the U.S.

It's a funny story, but one of the past.  Here's the border in Naco today:

Yeah, I guess I know why we've done this, but to see that black line undulating over the little hills in either direction as far as the eye can see is a little depressing.  Notice how the area immediately in front of the border wall is graded for driving and those poles aren't for electricity, they are high tech cameras with infrared sensors.

It used to be such a quaint place . . .