National Geographic : 1968 Aug
settlement included changing the river's path again and trading sections of Juarez and neighboring El Paso, Texas. entry, and El Paso ranks first among United States gateways," she noted. "People crossed the border here more than 60,000,000 times last year." Border commerce, in fact, has made Ciudad Juarez Mexico's fourth largest population center-after Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. It has also made it, in partnership with El Paso, one of the world's largest bilingual urban areas. English is compulsory in Ciudad Juarez's schools, as is Spanish for students in El Paso. A few still speak "Tex-Mex," a lingo that is both but neither. Four-footed Intruders Monopolize Roads We drove through El Chamizal-The Thicket-a 630-acre parcel of land, parts of which were claimed for a century by both the U. S. and Mexico. In agreeing to Mexico's ownership, the two countries also rerouted four miles of the Rio Grande in a new concrete channel and traded 193-acre chunks of El Paso and Juarez.* Juarez was hard at work replacing its former border town carnival atmosphere with a sedate $11,000,000 civic-renewal project. Already completed are a mag nificent new hotel, handsome shops, a museum of art and history, and an irresistible crafts center. The latter could have bankrupted our safari where it began; Lucy wanted to buy some of everything in it. Kenny, eager to move on, saved the day by insisting prices would be better to the south. Late that afternoon we camped in the Samalayuca Desert, a vast expanse of drifting dunes south of Ciu dad Juarez (page 173). Travelers often meet blasting sandstorms here, but not a gust stirred as we struggled to the top of a high dune for a view of the sunset. The failing light tinted the bleached landscape a pale rose, then a deep red, as creeping shadows shaped and reshaped the forms. Then, in an instant, the sun slipped from sight, shrouding the dunes in a gray after glow. We returned to the warmth of the camper. Others, too, sought warmth nearby. As the chill of the upland night sharpened, burros and cattle drifted out of the unfenced rangeland onto the highway, lured by the heat stored in the pavement. We did not chal lenge their right to the darkened roadway. Lucy's continuing history lesson took on added sig nificance that night as she read from Cabeza de Vaca's account of his travels. In 1536, almost a century before the Mayflower pilgrims left England, three white men and a Negro slave, the first foreigners to visit this area, had passed near our campsite. Cabeza de Vaca led the group-castaways from a wreck off the Texas coast. They endured eight hellish years, most of the time as slaves of the Indians, the rest escaping across Texas and northern Mexico to a Spanish outpost near the Pacific (map, page 148). Next day we detoured from the main highway to visit Casas Grandes-Great Houses (following pages) *For a detailed map of the exchanged areas, see "New Portrait of North America" in the April, 1964, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.