Mural at the Stanton Street Bridge in downtown El Paso. (Sergio Chapa/

Last stop, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez

I’m going to admit now. There is no way to describe El Paso in a single blog but I’ll try my best. With close to one million residents, El Paso is the biggest city on the Texas side of the border. But it’s also filled with many contrasts making it one of the most complex and intriguing. The border city is home to four international bridges and one international railroad crossing.

Santa Cruz in Rio Grande City, Texas. (Sergio Chapa/

Starr County

Mine and Lupita’s trip continued west into Starr County. With only 62,000 inhabitants, Starr County is nicknamed the “Hill Country of the Rio Grande Valley.” It’s easy to understand why. The four counties of the Rio Grande Valley are flat, with rich soil created from the Rio Grande River floodplain. But Starr County is more arid, hilly and rocky.

Los Indios, Texas. Transmigrantes companies are big business in Los Indios where Central American immigrants fill up buses and other vehicles with used clothes and toys and take them back to their home countries. (Sergio Chapa/

Space commerce, oil discoveries, Central American transmigrantes and a spiffy new highway along northern Mexico are transforming the Brownsville-Matamoros corridor

BROWNSVILLE-MATAMOROS – Our nine-day journey started in the southernmost tip of Texas just east of where the Rio Grande River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Cameron County is home to more than 406,000 people and is one of four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley. It’s a beautiful part of the border, one filled with great natural beauty. But there are also bleak industrial landscapes mixed in with rich farmland and neighborhoods both rich and poor. Mexico’s bloody drug war and kidnappings have definitely taken its toll on American tourism south of the border in Mexico’s State of Tamaulipas.