A vast expanse of squat buildings sprawled to the far horizon. Dusty, crumbling edifices of red brick and adobe structures. Many seemed to be still standing from the 1900’s that deteriorated slowly under that brutal, desert sun.
Ciudad Juárez definitely was a tourist attraction - very few curio shops catered to the international visitor. Juárez Avenue was the main drag that began at the international bridge and stretched sixteen blocks south - lined with small discos and fly infested restaurants. Taxi drivers sat inert in the sun, shop owners read newspapers, mangy dogs zigzagged between traffic clogged with pedestrians.
I walked south on Juárez Avenue to the towering Guadalupe Cathedral, a pile of ancient stone that dated back centuries.
From what I gathered, Juárez sprang up around the cathedral like growing fungus and spread outward. The sidewalks bustled with locals; all dashing to and fro in their various affairs.
Turning on Avenida 16th de Septiembre, I approached the fortress of worship down a dusty sidewalk - as I crossed the crowded plaza in front of the church, my senses were on alert - I knew this type of place all too well - I was swarmed over by guides all on the hustle:
“Pussy women? Titty girl?"
Around the large concrete square - Plaza las Armas, it was called - sat a multitude of people on long, concrete benches under sporadically placed trees doing nothing but socializing as they had for countless years.
A legion of shoeshine boys fluttered through the masses - vendors sold flavored ice and sunglasses. The hum of rentboy activity was in the air and the old farts in Stetsons who loved them, squatting in the steaming shade, shivering with lust. A gaggle of dirty boys silently waited for the sun to set and make the run across the border. They peered down at me from a rustic, graffiti splattered gazebo in the middle of the plaza with curious eyes filled by contempt.
Under the blazing sun, the teeming flesh eyed one another with unbridled, macho lust. After the sun went down, the hustlers became a bit more seasoned and more professional. Lonely queens sat and waited for a chance to snag one of those studs - as countless cheap hotels lay nearby.
The sun ultimately boiled away into night, I walked out of the plaza to explore my new home. All kinds of crazy gangs were assembled in woolen, Peruvian ski caps over their hip-hop paraphernalia and Pacheco haircuts in every doorway and on every corner.
I was to learn that the plaza was located right around the corner from five gay bars and discos. In addition, down the street, there was an adult theater.
I whizzed past the archaic Post Office, crossed the bottom of Juárez Avenue, the Museum of History towered nearby. Strolled down Avenida 16th de Septiembre, passing tiny, sweltering shops where they prepared churros and cut them for you from popping grease baskets. I crunched on a bag as I planned to cover the Mexican night ahead on the cracked and trash strewn sidewalk.
Wandering aimlessly, I rambled down the crazy hooker infested street of Calle Mariscal, pushed through and dodged phantom night of activity where whores by the hundreds lined along the walls of Orizaba Street in front of their dank, sweet scented cells of disease - beckoning coyly as you passed.
Taxis crawled by, sweaty American perverts aimed for their Dark Prey, children huddled in the shadows with wary eyes, transvestite prostitutes minced through the night with their coiling fingers of Come On as young, straight Aztec men passed and gave the trannies the once over.
Arm in arm, packs of young Mexican men carelessly strolled down the main whorestreet of Mariscal, black hair hung limply over their eyes - borracho - long legged women of calling in tight yellow-blue-red dresses grabbed at them and cocking their pelvises in, pulling at their shirts, and pleaded - the boys drunkenly wobbled and smiled shyly away - the cops patrolled down the street on little bicycles, rolling invisibly over the broken sidewalk.
Ranchero Music drummed from a thousand neon-splashed cantinas. Down mysterious side streets, antique, crippled buses waddled in mud holes, flash of fiery-yellow transvestite whoredress in the dark, in shadowed alcoves assembled pimps and pushers of flesh and junk and leaned up against a wall. Pretty boys passed, every age, and I turned to watch them, far too beautiful, my God - they smile back a smile which was a siren that would sink any ship, cabron.
I stopped on a corner and lit a cigarette, soaking all this in. I knew with an optimistic grin that Juárez would be a mighty fine home for a while.