Ever since we arrived in Harlingen, we've been debating whether or not to go into Mexico. Most of the border cities, including Matamoros and Reynosa, are definitely off limits, due to constant extreme violence over drugs. But Progresso is a little town that caters to Winter Texans; it's a town that you park your car on the Texas side and walk over. This relieves alot of the danger, due to the fact that drug cartels seem to be interested in hijacking tourists' cars. We've been hearing pros and cons since we arrived and finally decided to go when we were invited to go with another couple at our RV park. Eldon and Betty have been going to a dentist in Progresso for many years, as did Betty's parents before them...and Eldon was having some dental work done that required several trips to Progresso. Ed had a chipped tooth so we decided to see if this dentist could fix it.
Well, we had a great time! First stop was breakfast consisting of a huge cinnamon roll, scrambled eggs, and sausage...yumm! Then we headed over to the dentist office...it was only about 9:00am so Eldon wanted to see if he could get right in instead of waiting for his 1:00 appt. Thankfully, he saw both Eldon and Ed right away so after about an hour we were ready to shop and sightsee! I had brought a prescription with me to get a generic refill, but they only had the brand name and it wasn't any cheaper than in the states.
By 10:00, the sidewalks were jammed with vendors and winter Texans and it was fun browsing through all of the booths and shops. There is one main road that is connected to the border bridge and tourists do NOT stray off of this road...you're pretty safe if you stick to this. It's a little scary when we crossed over to the Mexican side of the bridge (which is a beautiful bridge, by the way!)...all of the border police are heavily armed and there are two police (one on each side of the road on the Mexican side) who 'hide' behind camaflauge. Coming back into Texas requires a passport, but there was no line and it was a painless procedure.
I don't think we'll go into Progresso again, but it was well worth the trip!
Our next excursion was a local trip to the Iwo Jima monument and the Harlingen Museum. We've been here for 4 months and we're just now getting around to visiting these two very interesting sites.
The Iwo Jima monument is at the entrance to the Military Marine Academy, which is a private college prep school for 8th through 12th grades. Felix DeWeldon, a sculpter, created the monument after seeing the original photo of the five soldiers raising the flag at the top of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. It was used as the cast for the monument that now resides in Washington, DC and was then stored until 1980, when it was sent to Harlingen to be placed at the entrance of the MMA. The man at the front of flag who was placing the pole into the ground was Harlon Block, from Weslaco, TX...not more than 20 miles from Harlingen. Six days after they raised the flag he was killed in action and was buried at Iwo Jima. In 1995, his remains were relocated to Harlingen and he now resides at the Iwo Jima monument.
While visiting the monument, we toured the adjacent museum, which was chock full of interesting information about Iwo Jima specifically and WWII in general. We viewed a very interesting 30 minute video about the battle at Iwo Jima. This was a great visit!
From there, we headed a mile down the road to the Harlingen Museum and learned a little more about the history of Harlingen. It's founder was Lon C. Hill, who in 1904 built the first house in Harlingen. His house, as well as the first post office (1905), the first hospital (1923), and the Stagecoach Inn are open for visitors to walk through...very interesting! The museum currently has a quilt exhibit consisting of award-winning quilts borrowed from the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. This year's theme is sunflowers and the quilts are amazing!
It was a great day filled with interesting information about the town of Harlingen and surrounding areas.
Our last entry in today's blog is about our trip to Borderfest in Hidalgo, TX last Sunday. It's an annual local festival that lasts from Thursday through Sunday. This year's theme was Hawaiian and it was alot of fun! Hidalgo is about 45 miles from Harlingen, but the Borderfest was worth the drive. Events this year included a Janet Jackson concert in the State Farm Arena, a parade every night, and numerous bands and events performing under various tents located throughout the festival. There was also a carnival as well as a large food court and a crafts tent. Our yoga instructor, Sandra, had a booth in the crafts tent and she gave me my first henna tattoo...a beautiful butterfly! Our highlight was watching Charo perform! She's a great singer, comedienne and stage performer and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance!
That's all for now! We'll be leaving here around April 6 and heading to New Orleans for a few days and then on to NC, VA and home...we'll keep ya posted!