Artsy & Seedy - Tubac and Nogales, Mexico

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February 18th 2009
Published: February 26th 2009
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The area was originally an Indigenous settlement that was later overtaken by the Spaniards. Nowadays, its a charming area with an artist colony featuring paintings, sculptures, pottery and other delights. I found a great local pottery shop and met the potter herself who was proudly emphasized that all of her wares were still made in the U.S. Keely also found a great colorful desert scene painting that she thinks would be perfect for her bathroom. I'm not sure however how a cactus is perfect for bathroom walls...

Keely could tell we were approaching Nogales, Mexico when we saw houses built irratically on the side of the hills (without any sense of urban planning). Sure enough, as we entered Nogales (on the US side), Mexican buildings towered above us... only separated by the tall metal fencing.

Nogales was surprisingly empty for a Sunday afternoon on a long weekend. The only Americans we really saw were old men buying leather gun/rifle covers in leather stores. It turns out that college students in Tucson were strongly advised not to go as there has been recent turmoil likely stemming from the power struggle over the drug trade?

We stuck to the few touristy blocks near the border checking out the typical touristy stores selling Mexican souvenirs, knock off bags and silver jewellry. The town was atmospheric with low-riding cars with tinted windows cruising the dusty streets playing upbeat mariachi music & dressed up donkeys idling on street corners waiting for tourists to come along and take cutesy pictures with them. Keely tells me at some border areas, local residents used to create tourist attractions by paint their burros to resemble zebras and charging for pictures.

I was quite amused when we were stopped by police enforcement for the second time. This time around it was at a roadblock on the highway back to Tucson where border patrol checked all vehicles to ensure we weren't carrying any illegal drugs, weapons or immigrants. The third time around we got stopped it was outside Tombstone, Arizona where we were stopped again by border patrol. This time around, we only showed our Canadian drivers licenses and that was good enough to let us go.

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