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.

Downtown El Paso as seen from the Paseo del Norte International Bridge. (Sergio Chapa/

Borderzine invites you to ride with us on a nine-day road trip hugging the Texas-Mexico border

Editor’s note: What is this territory we call the U.S.-Mexico border?  We read frequent alarming stories and see media images about la línea, the borderline, a 2000-mile stretch along the Rio Grande and beyond, separating the U.S. from Mexico. It’s often portrayed as a no-man’s land rife with drug smugglers, vicious criminals, gunrunners, anti-immigrant militias, and undocumented or impoverished immigrants, all portrayed with some degree of accuracy and ample amounts of hype in the FX TV series “The Bridge.”

But what’s the real storyline of the border region beyond the sensational headlines? Who are its citizens, a majority of them Mexican American?  What is their piece of the American dream? Borderzine invites you to follow Texas journalist Sergio Chapa and University of Texas at Brownsville Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera on their nine-day road trip along the dusty byways and highways hugging the Texas-Mexico border.

Our goal was to see every international border crossing along the Texas-Mexico

It was a trip that only lasted nine days but one that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I was born in raised in Texas and have lived for many years along the border. But I’ve never seen the entire Texas side of the border until I took a trip with my friend Lupita. I’m a journalist working for KGBT-TV in Harlingen and she’s a government professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville. Our work using social media to cover and research Mexico’s drug war overlapped in many areas.