Douglas in photos

I tend to mostly to text-based stuff on here (print journalist, people), but one of my goals for this trip is to get more photos up to accompany the text. With that in mind, I took a walk this morning, with the intention of documenting a bit of what life is like in Douglas and showing you all where I’m actually spending these two weeks. This isn’t really accomplishing my goal, since I’m just doing photos and not text, but I’ll get there eventually.

My bed in the trailer where I live. Hard to see here, but it’s essentially three mattresses stacked on top of each other, and consequently very wobbly.

Trailer kitchen! Thus far, it’s cockroach free, but appears to have at least five other species of relatively large insects crawling around. I get to cook, since Jeff, my Unitarian minister roommate, doesn’t really know how.
Our trailer from the outside. It’s owned by Fronteras de Cristo, which runs the migrant center, hence the giant cross on the screen door.

Trailer park! Many of our neighbors are fond of mariachi music, but sadly none of them have unsecured internet networks for me to mooch off of (I’m typing this at the migrant center, which does have wi-fi).

My daily commute along the Panamerican Highway. It’s about a mile from our trailer park to the Mexican border–we can bike or walk.

5th Avenue, 5 blocks from the border. Almost all the businesses in Douglas are giant chains or  small shops catering to Spanish-speakers. I haven’t seen any local businesses that had signage in English, even on the U.S. side of the border.

A lot of the fast food places have peso exchange rates on the sign, and the Mexican food places I’ve been to in Agua Prieta are all happy to take dollars as well.

Douglas used to have a Safeway, but it closed down. So here are the ruins of Safeway.

A stop sign at the end of 5th Avenue. It says “Chino Road,” which left me wondering if that’s a reference to the area’s mining past (a lot of Chinese immigrants worked in copper mines in Cochise County, chino means Chinese in Spanish) or just a coincidence.

Landscape outside of town looking south. You can just see the border wall in the distance.

An old no trespassing sign. The small print on the bottom says it’s from Phelps Dodge Co., which was the big mining company in Douglas back when it was a copper smelting town.

The official surveyed boundary of the United States, as seen through the border wall.

Douglas’ wastewater treatment plant, out in the desert to the west of town, just a few hundred feet from the border fence.

The wall once again. I got Border Patrol called on me twice for walking too close to it–I set off their cameras, and they had to go check. The agents responding were excessively nice and apologized to me for interrupting my walk. Don’t think it would have gone so well if my skin were a different color.

Wal-Mart is like five blocks from here, but apparently has a shopping cart return right before the border crossing  because so many people cross just to go shopping. Phil, who coordinates the migrant center, said it’s been estimated that 80% of Douglas’ sales tax revenue comes from Mexicans buying stuff.

The migrant resource center where I’m working. It’s literally right after you cross the border, so you can’t miss it.  Can’t decide how I feel about the “may we live always as brothers” text–good aspiration or cruel irony.


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