Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Jerry's Wedding Preview, Part II

The Setting - El Paso, Texas

El Paso is a town of about 600,000 on the western tip of Texas, with the border between the U.S. and Mexico running along the southern edge of the town and border between Texas and New Mexico to the north and west. To get your basic tourist-y type info about El Paso, go here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now I’ll try to fill in some additional details....

The full name of the town is El Paso Del Norte, or “The Pass To The North”, named so because it is situated in a pass thru the Franklin Mountains. Of course, the name “El Paso” also has different translations, which I will provide in this post.

The terrain surrounding the mountain range is high desert, and area on the whole receives very little rainfall. El Paso (Spanish for “Yeah, There’s A Tree Around Here…Somewhere”) was the natural choice for the location of our wedding, being Lynda’s hometown. Most of her enormous extended family lives within about 35 miles of the town, and will comprise about 90% of our wedding guests: on the bride’s side of the church there will be about 200 Mexican-Americans; on the groom’s side, about 20 Gringos (Italian, Irish, whatever). We briefly considered making our wedding theme “The Alamo”.

We decided on April as our date because a) May is a ridiculously busy month for Lynda at work, b) I’m way too horny to wait until June, and c) El Paso (Spanish for “Scorched Flesh”) reaches about 4000 degrees F in the summer months, but is a relatively cool 2500 degrees F in April.

A brief list of do's and don’ts for your visit to El Paso:

Do…..enjoy the scenery. For those of you who have not been to the southwest, the landscape provides a real treat for the eyes. The mountain range cutting through the center of town is striking, and the surrounding high desert terrain provides the sensation of “wide open spaces” that you don’t get in New Jersey, DC, Houston, or (I imagine) North Carolina.

Don’t….get any ideas about visiting the terrain across the nearby border with Mexico. Juarez is not a safe place. While Mt. Christo Rey is striking to look at, visits unaccompanied by law enforcement officials are prohibited.

Do….bring shorts and swimsuits. The hotel we have booked for our out-of-town guests has a pool and patio. There are plenty of restaurants within walking distance, including Village Inn and Cracker Barrel for hearty breakfasts.

Don’t….forget to take care of your skin. El Paso (Spanish for “Bring Moisturizer”) is in the high desert, and the sun can be rather intense and the air rather dry.

Do….enjoy some of the local cuisine. Here are a few items you may not be familiar with:

  • Chorizo – Spiced sausage. Terrific in omelets and skillets. Somewhat heavy, but very tasty.
  • Carnitas – Spiced, shredded beef. Delicious. Whether served with potatoes or as filler in enchiladas or burritos, I love it. Very filling.
  • Menudo – Personally, I wouldn’t eat this stuff if Jesus Christ came down from heaven and asked me to Himself, but if you’re the adventurous type…. It’s a soup made from boiled cow stomach. Menudo is to El Paso (Spanish for “Sure, I’ll try some of this ‘Menudo’ stuff .... what’s in it, again? .... Oh .... Um, never mind .... ”) what crabs are to Baltimore: available nearly everywhere.

Don’t….worry about being underfed. The rehearsal dinner is at the famous State Line Barbeque, on the border of Texas and New Mexico, and features all-you-can eat ribs, brisket, and sausage. At the reception dinner (4pm-6pm) following the wedding mass, we have buffet-style Duck L’Orange, Sirloin Tips, and Halibut with tomato cream sauce.

Do....come boot shopping on Friday afternoon with me. El Paso is the boot capital of the world, with Tony Lamas, Blackjack, and many other smaller boot companies being founded there. If boots aren’t your thing, take in some of the local shopping opportunities. There are some really good western wear stores, and even the local Sunland Park Mall has some uniquely Southwestern offerings. Augment your current sartorial style or just souvenir hunt. If you aren’t up for shopping Friday afternoon, check out Indian Cliffs Ranch east of town (about a 30 minute drive from the hotel), a real working ranch where a couple of movies (Resurrection, Courage Under Fire) have been filmed. Pet the goats, laugh at the prairie dogs, see the Rattlesnake Pit (but don't climb the fence), the deer, the buffalo, and the many other animals that live there, and let the kids play in the unique Fort Apache Playground or in the Indian Maze. Or, if you don’t want to drive out to Indian Cliffs and like high places, take the skyride to the top of North Franklin Mountain. The view is rather good, and you can see quite a way into both Mexico and New Mexico, as well as get a look at nearby Fort Bliss. Another option, if you’re into losing money, is the Sunland Park Casino and Racetrack a couple of miles from the hotel.

Don’t…. bother with the “Wet ‘n Wild” water park down I-10 from the hotel. It’s pretty disappointing for a water park, and is rather unkempt-looking.

Lastly, for those who are making their first trip to the Lone Star State…

Don’t….be concerned with all the billboards, tee shirts, and bumper stickers you will see instructing you not attempt something that had a) not only never occurred to you, but that b) you would have no idea how to do it if it had:

Don't Mess With Texas

No worries. Texans are proud but rarely rude.



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