Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

April 1, 2015

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

While living in San Antonio, Texas during the summer of 2010, the idea of making a short trip to cross the Mexican border came up. Being fascinated with Mexico after visiting the Yucatan peninsula area a few times, my husband, Mark, and I definitely wanted to explore more of the country. Walking across a country’s border was on our bucket list, but we knew crossing over into one of the Mexican border towns was a potentially dangerous plan.

After extensive research, we decided that Nuevo Progreso would be the best/safest area for us to cross. We caution others to the dangers of crossing the America/Mexico border, which is generally unsafe because of drug cartels. Know that if you plan this trip, you are doing so at your own risk, and always do your own research and decide on a plan that is best for you.

All I could think was that it looked like a scene from a zombie movie.

Crossing the Mexican Border: A Day-Trip Spent Exploring a Border Town
In two places at once!

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

After making our decision of where to cross, we drove from San Antonio down to McAllen, Texas where we spent the night. The next morning, we drove close to the border. Parking was available nearby, so we left our vehicle behind and then walked across the Nuevo Progreso International Bridge (over the Rio Grande) where we paid our 25-cent fee to enter Mexico.

The rates change based on length of stay and how far into the country you are traveling, but for pedestrians going no further than a few blocks into town, 25 cents is all it took! Always be sure to check current rates so you are prepared.

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

Halfway across the bridge, a large plaque marked the actual border between America and Mexico. Of course, we had to stop for photos. Taking shots on either side, we then straddled the line to be in two countries at once.

As we neared the shore on the Mexican side of the bridge, I was very startled when arms began reaching through the sides of the bridge towards us. People were stretching out their hands or holding out hats asking for money. My heart always goes out to the less fortunate, but I was more frightened than anything. All I could think was that it looked like a scene from a zombie movie.

Crossing the Mexican Border: A Day-Trip Spent Exploring a Border Town
Nuevo Progreso

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

Once we went in the town itself, we noticed the military officers positioned on the streets and on top of buildings. It was an odd feeling having so many uniformed people with large guns watching our every move. As we started to think of them more like security guards, we felt more at ease, though we continued to be cautious and aware of our surroundings.

We knew beforehand that many Americans cross into Mexico to buy medication and/or medical care at cheaper rates. Nuevo Progreso, being on the border, was full of pharmacies, clinics, and tons of dental offices.

I refused to buy dried frogs, no matter how whimsical they were.

As we wandered in and out of shops, the locals were very friendly. A few children approached us trying to sell chewing gum. Booths and tables were set up along the sidewalks and storefronts and locals were selling their wares, including a few bootleg and knock-off items.

We saw everything from purses to sunglasses, but the one display we remember best was of bootleg DVDs. The vender approached us and attempted to sell us Iron Man 2 (which was still in theaters at the time) “almost in English.” We declined, of course, and walked away quickly before we burst out laughing! Now, anytime we find a good deal on a movie, we ask each other if the movie is “almost in English.”

Crossing the Mexican Border: A Day-Trip Spent Exploring a Border Town
Our Mexican meal

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

Eating an authentic meal in Mexico was definitely on our to-do list. Previously, our trips to Mexico had been day trips from cruise ships, so we never had more than a snack or a sack lunch. We wanted real Mexican tortillas this time!

We stopped at a restaurant that had an awesome menu board that drew us inside. In fact, we were shown to a beautiful dining room on the second floor and were seated next to a large window overlooking the town. Because we were eating a late lunch, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves.

The strangest items I saw were dried frogs positioned and decorated to seem as though they were playing tiny instruments or tiny games of pool.

After we were brought tortilla chips, multiple types of salsa, and our entrees of tacos, tamales, rice, and beans, we felt eyes watching us. On the other side of the window was a fat pigeon that proceeded to sit and watch us through our entire meal.

When lunch was over, we spent the afternoon wandering back through the shops, making our final selections on crafts to bring back home. My favorite purchase from that day is a hand-painted, wooden mirror that now has a permanent home in our guest bathroom. The strangest items I saw were dried frogs positioned and decorated to seem as though they were playing tiny instruments or tiny games of pool. I refused to buy dried frogs, no matter how whimsical they were.

With our shopping complete, we made our way back across the Rio Grande and through US Customs to America. The day ended with a feeling of accomplishment: an item crossed off a bucket list and having had a successful little trip venturing out of our comfort zones.

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

Crossing the Mexican Border: A Day-Trip Spent Exploring a Border Town
‘Whimsical’ dried frogs?

 

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

Have you crossed the Mexican border from Texas to Nuevo Progreso? Email us at [email protected] for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso photo credits: Jennifer Cambell

 

About Jennifer Campbell

Jennifer CampbellJennifer is the founder of the travel blog Just Chasing Rabbits. She lives in Mississippi, USA with her husband/travel companion, Mark, and their doggie-daughter, Gizmo. After obtaining her BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has now combined her love of travel and photography to form a travel blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences on Just Chasing Rabbits in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.

35 thoughts on “Crossing the Mexican Border: From Texas to Nuevo Progreso

  1. Avatar
    May 20, 2018
    Reply

    I have lived in Deep South Texas, Rio Grande Valley, since 1999. During this time I have made countless trips across the US/Mexico border. The purpose of these excursions has ranged from purchasing pharmaceuticals to having dental work done and shopping for curios. At no time have I had a sense of personal danger. It is true that in recent years (this was posted in 2018) the larger border towns of Reynosa and Matamoros have been less safe than the much smaller border town of Nuevo Progreso. I, along with thousands of other US citizens, restrict my visits to Nuevo Progreso. This is somewhat unfortunate because Reynosa and Matamoros were really fun to visit when I first came to the region at the end of the last century (1999). When visiting any US/Mexico border town you will be most safe if you follow some basic, common sense rules. 1) Stick to the main drag. 2) Travel in pairs or groups. 3) Return to the US before dusk. You can find more info at www.wintertexaninfo.com

  2. Avatar
    Veda ramey
    April 22, 2018
    Reply

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Progress Mexico in a couple of weeks . We are entering Mexico from the border of Harlingen Texas. Can someone tell me if it is safe to visit Progresso at this time.

  3. Avatar
    Yogy
    February 21, 2018
    Reply

    Shopping in Nuevo progreso is always fun. The folks are super friendly and welcoming. Every year we look forward to our little trips across the border. The dentists are great and affordable as are the spas for relaxing our tired feet. Everyone should enjoy the adventure once in their lives.

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