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lundi 27 février 2012

welcome to Eagle Pass America.. 97% Spanish Speakers

Welcome to Eagle Pass. Texas and the Hairstylist Olguita, from Mexico  and the Pedi/Manicurist Heidi(Phuong) from Soc Trang, Vietnam.
When you are working with Indians, you have to travel to places that are not exactly on the tourist route. But you may come across cities and towns, which are very interesting from an anthropological point of view.
Imagine, a town in USA
Where Spanish is the predominant Language (97% Spanish speakers)
There is neither a newspaper nor a Café.
The biggest employers are Wal-Mart and Lucky Eagle Casino.
The latter is owned by the tribe that is close to my heart, so that is why I come here.
Tacos and Tex Mex cuisine
Just a short walk to MEXICO. Eagle Pass lies right on the Rio Bravo/Grande that defines the USA Mexico Border.  In fact one can see the huge flag flying over Mexican territory as if it is over the American Air Space!
The ubiquitous “Chinese” Buffet.
Low cost of living. Tacos run about a dollar, Chinese Buffet about 8 dollars, a hair cut at 15 dollars, Pedi/Mani with massage for 35 usd.

A Library where one can access free Internet is situated in a very nice building downtown and in fact it was featured in the movie Like Water for Chocolate.
An eclectic downtown where many shops are owned by newly arrived Chinese and Korean merchants, much like border towns on the South American continent.
Hardly any blacks, even though I could spot one or two black and perhaps one of them even African. In fact one of the local doctors is from Africa, I think. The ever-present East Indian doctor also is here but you don't see any East Indians about, possibly they are in San Antonio, 130 miles away?
Mexico, Mexican, Mexican Spanish. Moustachioed men who look like they have walked out of movie sets, sombreros of the cowboy type, even little boys and girls dressed up as cowboys and cowgirls. Spanish everywhere.  In this corner of USA, one sees the good and the bad of immigration, the desires and hopes and frustrations, the friendliness and lack of transparency.
Amidst all this confusion, the Indian walk around without any worry, calm and elegant. In the forty years they had decided to make Eagle Pass their home, their permanent home is in Mexico, they have truly advanced. Modern buildings, clinics, schools and Police and new houses for every one. Excellent management by the current tribal administration and Tribal Council. A real pleasure to see and experience.
It takes about 3 hours by car along a nice wide highway and then a state highway to reach this town from San Antonio. SAT is well connected by air to other parts of the USA and to parts of Mexico. Before the violence in Mexico, it was not unusual for people to go over to Mexico for Lunch! Definitely the food used to be better on that side of the border. Now the attraction to the Mexicans on the other side of the border are the two large employers here, not for a job provided, but services provided: Wal-Mart offers goods at a cheaper rate than the shops in Piedras Negras on the other side and the Casino attracts people wanting to spend their time and money in a congenial and safe atmosphere.
I had my nails done by Heidi (Phuong) from Soc Trang whose family has moved to Dallas but she maintains her job and residence here for most of the month. A chatty Vietnamese, and good at work, my feet felt good, especially since I was missing my regular Pedicurist, GS at A Cut Above in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Also, Fei Wen is no longer easily available to me, he who of KL, so Olguita from Mexico did a reasonable job of making me look presentable as I prepare to leave for that mecca of fashion, Paris.