Órale! Let’s Go to Mexico!

Órale! Let’s Go to Mexico!

by Chris Ardis

While driving from home to a nearby city is commonplace, in the Rio Grande Valley, we can hop in the car and head to our neighboring country–MEXICO! 

Before you go, prepare yourself for a day of shopping, mouthwatering food and margaritas, and mucho fun!

While there are several Mexican towns along the southern border of Texas, the most popular one to visit when you’re in South Texas is Nuevo Progreso, usually referred to as just Progreso. Located just seven miles south of Weslaco and immediately south of the town of Progreso Lakes, Texas, Nuevo Progreso beckons native, Converted, and Winter Texans across the international bridge with all it has to offer.

You can exchange your American dollars for pesos at one of the exchange houses on the American side, but there’s really no need to do so. The restaurants and shops in Nuevo Progreso are fully equipped to take American money and to give you change, as well.

Before you go, stick your passport in your purse or wallet because you’ll need it to return to the U.S. You can also get back with a Trusted Traveler card.

You can drive across the bridge, though most of us park in one of two expansive parking lots on the Texas side of the bridge. For just $2, you can park your car for an hour or an entire day.

It will cost you $1 on the American side to cross over to Nuevo Progreso. Stop and take a selfie or a picture of your group at the point on the bridge where you are entering Mexico. Once you reach the other side, you will have to put your purses and any bags you are carrying into an x-ray machine. The process is quick and easy and is done to keep us and our Mexican neighbors safe.

Now you’re on your own to visit the vendors who line the sidewalks and to stop in shops carrying the superb craftsmanship of Talavera pottery, colorful Mexican tops and dresses for women and the ever-popular guayabera shirts for men, sugared nuts and pepitas, and a wide selection of your favorite liquor.

The first large shop you’ll come upon is El Disco, located one block from the bridge. Before or after you shop, stop in Pancho’s Bar & Grill, located inside El Disco, for one of their traditional or mango margaritas.  Pair your drinks with their mouthwatering panchos, smothered in cheese. And be sure to get some of their famous guac!

It’s a good idea to stay in groups of at least two and to remain on the beaten path, which is the main street in town. Just in those four to five blocks, you will find countless shops, street vendors and bars, and mucho mas.

Once you decide it’s time to return to the U.S., get a quarter ready for the turnstile leading out of Nuevo Progreso and back over the bridge. Halfway across, Customs and Border Patrol agents will ask for a wave of your passport. Once you reach the other side of the bridge, you will go through Customs. An agent will ask for your passport and will then have you remove your hat and sunglasses so he or she can snap a picture before you verbally declare what you’re bringing back. If you have cigarettes or liquor, you’ll stop at a station outside the Customs doors to pay taxes. 

So grab your friends, your passport, and plenty of dinero, and head over to Nuevo Progreso.  Órale!

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