Have you ever wondered what it was like to live by a border town? How about what it is like to visit a border town? On my recent stay in Hereford, Arizona, I was fortunate to be able to visit the Arizona border town of Naco. Here are all my photos from my short afternoon exploring Naco, Mexico.
Living in an Arizona border town is relatively quiet. Walking outside, you might hear an occasional neigh from a horse or a cattle snort. At night, you can listen to crickets loud as can be and the occasional cries of a coyote in the distance. It is very peaceful here, and it is rare to hear a border patrol helicopter flying by. But, the one thing that is for sure is that the border patrol has a presence here. You will see the border patrol trucks driving up and down the roads, and on sunny days, you can even see the Aerostat flying high above Fort Huachuca, keeping an eagle eye on the comings and goings along the border wall.
I’m not sure how these border towns are in regular times, but with the current COVID climate, things look dismal. There are a lot of buildings boarded up and closed on both sides of the border wall. Not sure if these are recent or have been like this for a while. But, one significant observation is that there aren’t many people walking around or visiting these towns. Which I find disappointing as there is a considerable amount of history down here that is begging to be explored and enjoyed from the historical Camp Naco (home of the Buffalo Soldiers) to the copper mines in Bisbee.
The other thing I’ve noticed with people living in Arizona border towns is that they have a completely different viewpoint from what we have living in the middle of the United States. And I think a lot of that is because of media bias and what story they are trying to sell. From my standpoint, living down here for three months is that these Arizona towns are peaceful, quiet, and a beautiful place to live and visit.
The process of crossing over to Mexico is straightforward. All you have to do is park your vehicle in Naco on the Arizona side and walk through the border control gate around the outside of the building to Mexico. When you step back to the Arizona side, you have to go inside. The signs are misleading and tend to point you to walk back the way you came in. Don’t do that! Trust me; the guards will have no problem telling you that you are in the wrong place. You have to go through border control, which is inside. The border crossing is available 24 hours a day.
Spending an afternoon exploring Naco (means prickly pear cactus) was fascinating. Even though many of the businesses were closed, it was still enjoyable to walk around the town. We walked down the main street from the border crossing, looking for a tortilla place. My friend, Janet, raved about buying amazing tortillas in Naco, and she was determined to find the location that she bought them from last time. We walked up and down the street and even stopped to ask at a restaurant that had some lovely smells wafting from the open door. Although the restaurant owner went out of their way to help us and point us in the right direction, we didn’t find any tortillas.
On the walk up and down the main avenue, I was busy taking photos of all the little extras that Naco had to show off their town. I took pictures of their statues, little mining rail cars, beautiful Mexican houses with courtyards, and every cute display that I saw. I can only imagine what a different feel this town has when all the businesses are open, and people are coming and going. As for safety, Janet and I felt completely safe walking around the town. For those who are worried, the police station is on the main street directly down from the border.
One of the main reasons, a lot of Arizona border town residents cross over to Mexico is to take advantage of the low costs for dentistry work and refilling prescriptions in pharmacies. I was astounded by how much you can save by taking advantage of this opportunity. If you are worried about whether they have top of the line equipment, all you have to do is check out reviews or, better yet, word of mouth by your neighbors.
When we found out that half of Janet’s neighbors that she knows, come over to the same dentist, we went and checked out the place. The dentist can take 3D x-rays and is entirely up-to-date with all the latest equipment and procedures. And they are following COVID recommendations, with masks and social distance practices. I might even have to schedule an appointment the next time I’m down this way.
Of course, anywhere I visit if they have street art, I’m going to find it. I was so happy to see these on a couple of buildings while walking into town. They were so colorful and spirited. Plus, love the message on the first one! I even included an ofrenda, which is a collection of objects placed in a ritual display because it was so colorful, and somebody added chalk drawings to the bottom of the alter.
I’m always continuously on the lookout for extraordinary things when I travel. And when a pop of color catches my eye, I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame. These pops of color happen to be gorgeous flowers that were sporadically found around town.
A short trip to an Arizona border town and crossing into Mexico led to a surprising and entertaining afternoon. This border town is colorful with its street art, flowers, and, of course, its people. Everyone we met was so friendly that I would love to return when the world is back to normal. Have you visited a border town? How was your visit?
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If you are coming to Arizona for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:
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- Coronado National Memorial: Exploring a Lesser-Known Arizona Gem