One of the standard activities of every Winter Texan is at least one trip to Mexico. Shootouts between battling drug cartels in the border towns have frequently been reported recently on the evening news. In fact, the Texas Department of Public Safety has advised this year's wave of Spring Breakers to stay north of the border. With all of that excitement, we had pretty much decided we'd stay on native soil, being as how we hate shootouts and all.
After talking with neighbors and friends, though, we learned that there is one place where it's safe to cross the border: at Progreso. The problems we've heard about are in other border towns, like Reynosa and Matamoros. When our friends Al and Priscilla asked us if we'd like to join them for a jaunt to Nuevo Progreso, we went for it. Passports in hand, we piled into the Jeep this morning and picked up their friends Joe and Judy in Donna. After parking the car in a dusty lot in Progreso, we paid a quarter each to stroll across the Rio Grande and into Mexico.
The major industry in Nuevo Progreso is obvious: Health care. Just a few steps inside the border we saw the first of many pharmacies in town. These clean and bright shops advertise everything from amoxicillin to viagra, and their American customers line up with lists and walk out with large bags filled with bottles. On the opposite corner of the first pharmacy sits this colorful cluster of dental offices. Most of these dentists were trained in America, or so they claim. They offer quality care at a very reasonable cost.
Just outside that cluster of dentist offices was Vinnie's Happy Teeth bar. After your treatment, you can step right up and treat yourself to a tasty margarita!
Al decided to drop in for a cleaning. Before we left him I snapped this picture, joking that we might need to have a recent picture for identification later. Seriously, the office was clean and bright and the dentist was personable and professional. We were impressed.
We strolled down Main Street, which is crowded with shops, booths and industrious locals trying to make a buck or two.
Look at the Winter Texans making their purchases. We were beginning to understand why Nuevo Progresso was "the safe place" to visit Mexico. This town depends on its neighbors to the north. And, by the looks of things, they go out of their way to make their neighbors feel safe and comfortable.
We stopped for lunch at the "famous" Red Snapper. We heard (and read) that this is a favorite spot for some tasty seafood and Mexican fare. The food was just fine, but now we know what keeps people coming back. It's the two-for-one margaritas! You order one, and two magically appear. Even the Red Snapper does its part to make the Winter Texans feel comfortable.
One of our fellow diners was playing by the window next to me. As soon as I pulled out my camera, he started to play peek-a-boo.
After lunch, we started a slow stroll back toward the border. Along the way, we stopped in one of Joe and Judy's favorite spots for a cold beer and a little impromptu serenade.
With our shopping expedition complete, we made the trek back across the border. The traffic on the bridge was at a standstill at the border. But, the short walk was a breeze. We were safely back on American soil in just minutes.
Thanks to Al, Priscilla, Joe and Judy for a great day. We're really glad we made the trip!