David Ramirez, Contributing Writer
Daniel Orazio, Commentary Editor for The University News, introduces “Texas, Our Texas” a series dedicated to exploring the many regions of the state of Texas of which David Ramirez’s piece about El Paso is the first.
I am one of those oft-derided kids who grew up a fan of both the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys. (I will not here speak as to whether I also once wept after the Utah Jazz defeated Jordan’s Bulls in one of those finals games in the late 1990s.)
Now, it made all the sense in the world for me to pull for the Pinstripes, some of my pop-pop’s earliest memories in America being of rooting for Ruth’s Yankees as an immigrante in the Bronx. My dad’s childhood allegiance explains why I cursed wildly in my living room last May as the hated Devils of New Jersey eliminated the New York Rangers – my beloved Broadway Blueshirts – from the Stanley Cup playoffs, and both geography and my parents’ identical choice of college made me love the UConn Huskies.
I really shouldn’t be a Cowboys fan, then; I should be a New York Giants fan, like the rest of my family on both sides. But when we were wee lads and lassies, the Triplets were leading Dallas to three Super Bowls in four years, and Aikman, Smith and Irving (and Deion Sanders too) won my heart. Yes, my father should have intervened and insisted I be a Giants fan, but he didn’t; so now I root for a laughing-stock, run by an insane, incompetent owner, that plays in a spaceship rather than a football stadium.
There was another reason my little self took to the Cowboys, though: I loved lower-case-‘c’ cowboys as a kid, and Texas seemed like a really cool place. Little did I know! No, I’m not going to launch into another complaint about this state’s inhuman climate, brutal landscape or wildly inflated sense of self-worth, nor about its residents’ disturbing tendency to pour hot sauce on everything from pepperoni pizza to spaghetti carbonara. I won’t do this, because as much as I like to hate the place, it is home to my favorite college, many of my favorite people, and a political and religious climate that don’t leave me feeling like a freakish outsider.
Let us, then, investigate and celebrate this varied and interesting place, by letting natives describe the towns, cities and regions that they call home, whether they live on the Mexican border, out by a swamp or deep in the heart of Texas.
Drive west from the University of Dallas for nine hours and you will find yourself in the pleasant city of El Paso, Texas. Bordering both New Mexico and Mexico, this city has a great year-round climate, beautiful desert landscapes and some of the best Mexican food to be had on this side of the Rio Grande.
I would like to first put to rest the common misconception that El Paso is a dangerous city out in the Wild West, filled with violent drug lords, their cartels, and cholos running about shooting each other and whoever happens to get in their way. Although El Paso is a few yards away from Ciudad Juárez, México, possibly the most dangerous city in North America, El Paso itself is very safe. According to statistics released by CQ Press, El Paso has the lowest crime rate of the largest cities (populations of 500,000+) in the United States.
The weather in El Paso is very pleasant for most of the year. Since it is a desert town, one does have to put up with dust storms that gust through the city every so often and 90-100+°F temperatures during the summer days. The heat is bearable, however, considering there is essentially no humidity. On summer nights, a refreshing cool breeze blows through the city and the temperature drops to around 70°F. The temperature during the spring and fall is just right, hitting a comfortable 80°F at the highest. The winters get appropriately cold and the city gets about one or two snow days a year. The city has been dubbed the “Sun City” in light of the fact that it has beautiful sunny days for the majority of the year.
Unlike the rest of west Texas, which consists mostly of monotonous flat brown desert land with the occasional oil derrick or wind turbine here and there, El Paso and the surrounding lands are punctuated with beautiful mountain ranges. The city itself is bisected by the Franklin Mountains, behind which the sun sets every day to create the most beautiful sunsets in all of Texas. At night you’ll be surprised, considering that you are in a major metropolitan area, to see that the sky is filled with stars.
You are not short of options when it comes to finding delicious, authentic Mexican food in the city. Whether stopping by your parish’s kitchen after Sunday Mass for some menudo prepared by the sweet and faithful grandmothers of the parish, who immigrated over from Mexico in their youth; grabbing some traditional Mexican pastries at Bowie Bakery; stopping by Lucy’s Café for some hearty machaca burritos; having some of El Paso’s classic Chico’s tacos; or checking out Rosa’s Cantina, made famous by Marty Robin’s song “El Paso,” you are bound to experience some of the best tasting and most authentic Mexican food north of the border.
When taken together, the delicious food, the temperate climate, the beautiful geography and the stunning sunsets make El Paso a great place to just kick back, relax, crack open a few Pacificos and watch the sun set behind the mountains, all with the peace of mind of knowing that you are in the safest city in the United States.