It is with interest I read and hear of the horrid press Juarez Mexico is getting these days, the murders and drug wars, wreaking havoc on the inhabitants. It has devolved much in the 30 years since I was in El Paso, Ft. Bliss, TX.
I only walked across the Rio Grande a couple times in my stay at Ft. Bliss (Summer of 1972 - Spring 1973). Once during the day, doing some tourist-type shopping, enduring the respected but new to me art of negotiation, buying a pair of pointy toed cowboy boots (see http://www.letterstoasoldier.com/pictures/pics_2/army19.html ), and a hippie-type brown, fringe leather jacket. The boots I wore until they disintegrated, long after I ETA'd from the Army, the jacket I gave to my brother Mark who was 8 years my junior, and just getting into his hippie development. I also purchased an onyx chess set while there, all of which are now long gone except in memory. Another trip to Juarez occurred this time at night. I visited very briefly a bar which you had to enter going down a flight of stairs. It wasn't something I thought was fun so I didn't stay long. But walking back over the border with a couple joints in my jeans and wearing sunglasses to hide the redness in my eyes from smoking dope, the customs guard, appropriately suspicious, found the contraband, and took me into custody. I was released into the arms of the US Army. But the damage was done, impacting greatly on my future, as I was kicked out of Nike Hercules training for violating my security clearance. If I had maintained that training I probably would have turned the training into an enjoyable career in electronics after my tour of duty, instead of getting stuck in the mundane and often brutal career of Purchasing.
But, back on topic, while not quite a city of Angels, Juarez at that time was a place you could walk in without much fear of life. Looks like those days are gone forever. The times are definitely a' changing.