This time we decided to stop in El Paso but were not expecting much. We thought El Paso equaled crime, drugs and dust.
We stand corrected.
Almost right off the bat, we heard that in 2014 El Paso was ranked the safest large city in the US for the fourth straight year by an annual study called City Crime Rankings and has been in the study's top three cities with the lowest crime rate since 1997. Apparently we are not alone with our initial impression, however: two locals we met our first days here -- a young professional-looking man we met while exploring downtown and a server at a pub -- told us they loved El Paso but that it had an undeserved bad reputation.
And the downtown area is lovely. Restored historic buildings. A plaza that looks like something I'd imagine you see in a thriving Mexican town. Pocket parks. Walkable streets.
Never would have guessed.
|Jim near El Paso's Convention Center.|
|Artwork on an under-construction off ramp? I'm not sure, but it's a fun look.|
|Our lunches at Leo's Restaurant in El Paso. I had to try the chicken mole (above, front) because nearly 40 years ago I attempted this dish for a dinner party, couldn't find the needed ingredients, and faked it with chocolate and who knows what else (which is my usual cooking style.) My "chocolate chicken" is still infamous among friends and synonymous for "yuck." The one above was delectable. The guy we chatted with near the Convention Center suggested this restaurant. Thank you, Mike!|
|An Aztec calendar sculpture in one of downtown El Paso's small parks. I read that another El Paso Aztec calendar has solar panels directing electricity to outlets people use to charge phones and other devices. Plus the park has free wifi.|
|A typical sidewalk display at the Downtown Shopping District near the Mexico/US border. We took a free shuttle to the market and were the only passengers not speaking Spanish.|
And, just because we thought they were pretty, photos of a few houses near UTEP: