Why would I travel to visit Ciudad Juarez you might be asking? For the past few years Mexico’s bordering city has been on the news for all the wrong reasons: since the early 1990’s thousands of women have vanished and in 2010 the durg wars made Juarez the most dangerous city in the world, dropping down in 2011 to second position according the UN Global Homicide report . And sure, that was 2011, but in 2012 homicides have dropped another 40% making Ciudad Juarez a city like most others when it comes to safety, and it is one you can visit at ease as I just learned. Best of all, there are enough cultural and natural attractions to keep you busy for at least one full day, and the people are genuinely friendly as they try to make Juarez the city it once was. So what is there to do? Read along and watch my Juarez video guide to see and learn what there is to do!
Start your day as a local by heading to EL Burrito Crisostomo Car Wash. Why? While the car wash is well know and popular, it’s the burritos that draws the crowds. There are about 12 different fillings to choose from and the tortillas are home made, probably a few minutes before you get here. Swallow it all with a glass of Jamaica (Hibiscus) tea and you’ll be off with a great start.
As any border city Ciudad Juarez is rich in history just like its counterpart in the US, El Paso. For decades both metropolis enjoyed a brillinat camarederie that boasted economic and goods commerce both ways. The city played a critical role in the Mexican Revolution, and was invaded by Pancho Villa and his men between May 8- 10 of 1911. In the outskirts of the city lies what is know as the Casa de Adobe, a small adobe house were president Arturo Madero installed temporarily as the revolutionary president. The house is a reconstruction as the original was destroyed during a fire.
I then visited the former border control building, today a museum. It’s closed on Mondays (like most museums around the world) but I got a special tour as part of the fam trip. The building is interesting to see and there was an interesting exposition about the occupation of the city by Villa.
We then made our way to the only desert in Mexico, knows as the Samalayuca Dunes. About 30 minutes south of Ciudad Juarez, this is a place where the Juarez murders will seem as distant as Mars. Expect to find young crowds enjoying sandboarding or to try it yourself visit the following website: http://www.chihuahuatours.com/tour-samalayuca.php . Unfortunatelly I had not given a heads up and there was no equipment availlable.
I wrapped up the day by enjoying a Margarita in the bar that saw its birth. Located on Avenida Juarez Norte #629 Kentucky Bar is an old school bar that even today has visitors from across the border who come for a tranquil drink in this emblematic establishment. There are several bars in Mexico that claim to be the birthplace of the Margarita, but only Kentucky Bar has the oficial certification by the Guiness Book of world records. You’ll also see photos of the man behind it, and if for a few minutes you can imagine how famous stars like John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Jack Dempsey felt when they were here.
With over 2 million people the city is not easily tamed, yet its attractions are relatively easy to reach (I would next visit the ruins of the lost civilization at Paquime, but these are 4 hours away). The best way to see them all in a day is with private transportation, but taxis are cheap enough to make them my best recommendation. As for accommodation, mine was kindly provided by Hotel Lucerna on Paseo triunfo de la República #3976, and I can’t think of a better hotel in Juarez where to stay at. It’s right in front of Burritos Crisostomo, 5 minutes away from the US border and has all the amenities you might want including a gym and pool.
And now it’s your turn:
Would you visit Ciudad Juarez? Why or why not? Knowing it’s not as dangerous as you might have though, would you now? What have you heard about Juarez, if anything at all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below, and this post too if you liked it!
My visit visit to Ciudad Juarez was part of a fam trip with the Tourism Board of Chihuahua, however the article and opinions in it are, as always, my own.