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Vacation-Land de Amigos
John Paris
  • Map
  • Highlights
    Governor of Texas John Connally participates in the annual friendship ceremony at US-Mexican border
    Laredo, TX - "The Gateway to Mexico"
    Washington's Birthday Celebrations
    Bull fights and charredas in Neuva Laredo 
    Shopping in Laredo
    Traveling through Mexico, the Land of Contrasts
    "It's a faraway land, nearby."
    McAllen, the City of Palms
  • Transcript
    And at this ceremony in the middle of the international radar between the good neighbor nations, the United States and Mexico, we can look down both banks of the Rio Grande over the vast lands of south Texas and the hills of Mexico. The Rio Grande winds its way down through the Magic Valley near beautiful McAllen, the City of Palms, and on out into the Gulf of Mexico below Brownsville.
    Leaders from both sides of the river meet here every year for an exchange of greetings and a renewal of goodwill. While in other parts of the world there are demonstrations of force between nations, here you are seeing a wonderful demonstration of international friendship. 
    And this is just how you'll find it, friendly south Texas and Mexico, the newest and most popular vacation area of the Americas. This is wonderful Vacation - Land de Amigos. This is a colorful and romantic country. One of the oldest and, yet, one of the newest cities on the border is Laredo, Texas, the gateway to Mexico.
    Laredo is just across the Rio Grande from its sister city, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Both of these cities are proud of the progress they have made.  There's blending of the culture and the customs of two nations here from the days of the frontier when Laredo was known for its bravado and adventure, to today's eager and vigorous growth. Typical of the modern Laredo is the impressive civic center only five minutes from the international bridge. The auditorium will seat 2,000, the dining and banquet hall, over a thousand. And there are several excellent meeting rooms all available to handle different kinds of conventions.There are superb hotel and motel accommodations and restaurants in Laredo with all the gay resort atmosphere of the border, and a bright and shiny new horse track.
    Quarter horses, from the famous ranches of the southwest, race during the fall and winter seasons. But there is really never winter down here, just lots of sunshine and fun. No one realizes this better than the Air Force. Year-round good flying weather really counts at the Laredo Air Force Base, a permanent pilot training facility.
    About halfway between McAllen and Laredo is Falcon Lake, a huge reservoir stretching out for sixty miles along the Rio Grande providing water for both nations and some real sure enough fishing for the anglers. Camping and trailering by the lake are just great, too. During the fall, the fantastic deer and wild turkey population attracts hunters from far and wide. Within fifty miles of Laredo is some of the finest hunting acreage in North America. 
    One place you won't want to miss in Laredo is the famous Cactus Garden and Nursery. This is one of the world's rarest species of cacti, the Old Man Cactus, which actually is sold by the inch. The cactus garden also has a fascinating museum with a large exhibit of pre-Columbian artifacts and rocks. In the immediate vicinity of Laredo, rockhounds have found many unusual specimen and even semi-precious stones like the famous Rio Grande agate. 
    The Spanish traditions are still very much a part of Laredo, especially the fiestas. Founded by an early Spanish explorer in 1775, Laredo has been under seven flags with an exciting and remarkable past.
    One of the gayest of all the fiestas is the celebration of Washington's Birthday. It is absolutely unique, Mexico and the United States, as one, honoring the great general and liberator, George Washington. This fiesta has been held every year since 1898 with all the pageantry of the royal courts of old and the fun and frolic of parades and carnivals. Visitors from all over the United States and Mexico come to this fun-filled event every year.
     It's just about always fiesta time along the border. In Nuevo Laredo, just across the Rio Grande, there are bull fights at one of the most popular rings in the area.
    And also there are Charreadas, Mexican-style rodeos starring teams of charros, horsemen of great skill, from Mexico's ranches and plantations. Their exhibitions of fine horsemanship are daring and intricate. 
    Yes, even some of the senioritas ride with them. In the shops and marketplaces, you'll find sombreros, bright colored paper flowers, shining brass pieces, and there are all sorts of beautiful black ornamental iron, gift ideas galore and at low peso prices all within easy walking distance of Laredo. 
    But now it's time to say, adios, to Los dos Laredos and saludos a Mexico down the super Pan-American Highway into Mexico, the land of contrasts and the land of enchantment. In the next few minutes, you'll be on a whirlwind tour of this fabulous country with more to see than you could ever imagine. We are entering Mexico here at Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.  And after the grand tour, we'll return to Texas by the McAllen Reynosa port of entry, a full loop around our wonderful Vacation - Land de Amigos. 
    Monterrey, the romantic city of story and song, is the first stop for many visitors to the interior.  Monterrey is bustling and vigorous, typical of many of the cities of Mexico today. It is justifiably proud of its centers of learning, Monterrey Institute of Technology and the outstanding new State University of Nuevo Leon. The excellent hotels and motels of Monterrey and nearby Saltillo welcome visitors from all over the world, whether it be honeymooners or the entire family. Beautiful Monterrey beckons you to stay and play, always in view of its magnificent guardian, Saddle Mountain. A must for everyone is a side trip up to lovely Horsetail Falls. There are few golf courses in the world who equal this one at Monterrey with the peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental as a breathtaking backdrop. 
    You'll drive on beautifully engineered and well-marked highways in Mexico, many through deep mountain cuts into hidden canyons that until recently were accessible only by burro or horseback. Constantly changing mountains with rugged peaks and colors beyond compare will thrill you time and again. There's exciting adventure off the main roads, finding the out-of-the-way, unchanged tiny villages of the countryside or the small towns with their red-tiled roofs and cobblestone streets. Now and then, there will be a herd of goats or a quite tree-lined plaza. 
    In one such town, little Santa Maria del Rio, the Mexican government has started a school to teach the handcrafts of the past to today's young people so that these remarkable skills of weaving and dying will not be lost. Rebozos are an essential item of dress for the Mexican women and are a favorite souvenir for many visitors. And then you can swing back out onto the main highway again, this time through a forest of towering pines. 
    Brilliant bougainvillea grows in profusion in this land. Throughout Mexico there are delightful and strikingly different resorts. This is one of the most spectacular spas fed by health restoring and invigorating mineral springs from the high sierras. Lush greenery and multitudes of exotic flowers will entice you to stay a few days more, or on and on. It's obviously a photographer's paradise, just look. In fact, never come to Mexico without a camera. There's so much you'll want to remember and show when you get home. Mexico, the land of contrast, one moment the new and then the very old, the tranquility of the farming country settles over the land in the high plateaus, and once again time seems to stand still. 
    But not for long. The beauty of Mexico's second largest city brings the clock back around to today, Guadalajara, the city of fountains, the city of flowers, which grow here in profusion, and wide boulevards, continental sidewalk cafes on spacious plazas and old world flavor in a romantic and happy new world city. 
    Guadalajara is capital of the state of Jalisco and truly a city of great natural beauty. Here is the center of Mexico's arts and crafts industries. You can see many of the famous glassmakers in actual operation. Watch the shaping and molding of marvelous pieces by the artisans themselves. Skilled hands form the molten glass into all shapes in all colors, but especially the blues of sky and the sea. 
    A few miles east of Guadalajara are the tremendous falls of Juanacatlan, the largest waterfalls in volume in Mexico supplying a wide area of the central plateau region with water and power, but again, our land of contrasts. No visit to Mexico would be complete without a stop in Taxco, a Spanish colonial jewel high up in the mountains a few hours south of Mexico City. 
    Its perfect colonial architecture and picturesque setting inspired the Mexican government to declare Taxco a national monument, and all new construction must be in the same style. Taxco is famous for its silver shops, as well as, its delightful year-round climate and unusual hillside resort hotels. 
    The people of Mexico are very happy, smiling their way along wherever they're going. Excellent food and filtered swimming pools are found at fine hotels and motels, like this one, all over Mexico. Distant mountains with their many colored shadows are a living background in much of this land. 
    Yes, this is world-famous Acapulco, the fairytale city of Mexico's Pacific coast. Acapulco Bay, with its morning beach and afternoon beach, is excellent for swimming and skiing. Charter boats go out from the bay-front docks to the islands just off shore. There is a lot of fun in Acapulco, to be sure. Just name your favorite watersport and it's here in the deep blue waters or even right beside them. The view and the blue are so dazzling that they almost take your breath away. 
    Rock formations and rugged cliffs rise out of the blue Pacific up the coastline to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán. Homes are nestled in the hills off the coast affording a magnificent view of this water play land. A cruise along the bay in a glass-bottom boat with its very own skin-diver, shows you some of the delights of the sea. You might even want to try it yourself. All kinds of equipment and instruction are available. Here's adventure the easy way, off to a little island, a perfect gem in a crystal bay where all cares disappear. How about a site-seeing trip down and around this historic coast past inlets almost hidden by the rocks where pirate ships of long ago sought shelter? A-ha! It appears that one was left behind. But never fear, it's just part of the fun and gaiety that's Acapulco, one of Mexico's favorite playgrounds. 
    From one contrast to another, once again, Mexico today and yesterday blended together nowhere more perfectly than in the capital of this great country, Mexico City. The Paseo de la Reforma is one of the most famous boulevards in the world. Here is the center of culture and beauty, education and government. The Zocalo, the main plaza of the city, has been the scene of many historic events. It is dominated by the largest and truly one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Mexico. 
    The snow-capped peaks of Mexico City's twin volcanos, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, now extinct are over 17,000 feet high, an interesting side trip from the city. To see Mexico, you really have to feel Mexico, recall the civilization centuries passed. The Spanish built these remarkable aqueducts over 200 years ago, and they are still used today. And then reaching even farther back to the ancient past, here on the Yucatan Peninsula are ruins of the cities of the mysterious Mayan Empire. This one is Chichen Itza. Very little is known about the Mayans, but it is known that they had discovered time periods, such as lunar months and length of the year, and developed a calendar and writing about 1,000 B.C. 
    Theirs was a superior prehistoric civilization when they migrated to Yucatan from Guatemala around the year 500 A.D. They built several large cities like this one at Uxmal. An archeological zone has been created by the Mexican government to preserve for posterity these silent reminders of some of mankind's earliest efforts at civilization. Tours to this once remote area, as well as to the offshore island of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, are easily arranged. It may surprise you, but after traveling through Mexico, you will feel like you've been to a faraway land. But that's one of the nicest things about Mexico; it's a faraway land, nearby. 
    You can spend a few days or a few weeks in Mexico, and then come back into the United States by a different route from which you entered, this time, by way of carefree Renosa, a well-known border port of Mexico. Renosa extends a happy welcome to visitors either entering or leaving Mexico. And its shops and markets are loaded with bargains. There are many restaurants famous for wonderful Mexican dishes. 
    It's just across the Rio Grande from beautiful McAllen, Texas, the City of Palms. Tropical gardens and palm-lined streets have made it a popular gathering place all year long for visitors from far and wide. McAllen is the heartbeat of the magic Rio Grande Valley, the hub of fun and activity. The all-time favorite sport is still shuffleboard. There are garden clubs and flower shows, card games, dominos, even Spanish lessons; something to do for everyone. 
    Golf, did you ask? Yes, sir. This is a golfer's world with two excellent courses you can play on every day of the year. In fact, you can land at the McAllen Municipal Airport and be ready to tee off in five minutes on either course, that is, if you're in a hurry. But when you come to McAllen, you'll want to relax, for this is the land of the siesta, too. The mild climate and year-round sunshine attract numbers of tourists, and many decide just to stay here and make it their permanent home. 
    Convention delegates and their families always enjoy coming here. The fine McAllen Civic Center auditorium seats 1,800 and another thousand in the adjacent convention hall. It is surrounded by many varieties of graceful palms. The main auditorium is equipped with multi-lingual earphones, the most elaborate of translation equipment. There are meetings, seminars and conventions with delegates from all over the world held here many times during the year. 
    It's a lovely drive through the Magic Valley. For miles and miles, groves of citrus trees line the roads and stretch out as far as you can see. You'll wonder how the trees can hold so many of these oranges and grapefruit. They are just like enormous, golden Christmas ornaments. The Rio Grande Valley is famous the world over for its Ruby Red grapefruit, of which there is none to compare. But not only are there grapefruit, for here also are the sweetest, juiciest oranges in the world. They are absolutely unsurpassed for color and flavor. These beauties fill the trees in grove upon grove and are shipped out all over the United States. 
    Even when the fruit has all been picked, the deep green waxy leaves are a site to behold, as the groves spread out around the fertile McAllen area. There are also rich harvests of many vegetables and other fruits; cucumbers, cabbages and carrots. They're in bountiful supply in the long growing and harvesting seasons. And how about these valley strawberries?. Near McAllen is the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a fantastic, jungle-like tropical garden extending over 2,000 acres of the Rio Grande lowlands. 
    There are trails and paths for visitors, as well as, blinds for photographers. Audubon enthusiasts converge on McAllen from all over the world to see the many rare birds that come to the refuge. These magnificent green jays are seldom seen much farther north than right here, but range as far south as Venezuela. The pheasant-like dark birds are chachalacas and are found by the flocks here in this perfect setting for their protection. There are birds galore everywhere down here, many of them game birds that provide plenty of sport in season for you hunters. Just look at those white wings. They're here by the thousands. 
    A short scenic drive from McAllen is fabulous Padre Island. One of the nation's newest national seashore parks on the beautiful blue Gulf of Mexico. There are miles of unspoiled beaches just right for camping, fishing, swimming and beachcombing. There's fishing of all kinds. Out in the gulf, or along the intra-coastal waterway, you'll find charter boats ready and waiting to take you out for the deep sea thrillers, too. 
    Palm-lined McAllen is a wonderful place for a vacation right in the center of all kinds of fun for all ages. The many shades of bougainvillea, golden esperanza and magnificent poinsettias are year-round landscaping plants down here, all blending into the relaxing and colorful backdrop of the border. 
    You've seen that there is every reason why, just for fun, you should plan your next vacation in Vacation - Land de Amigos, and we sincerely hope you will. For remember, all roads lead to the lower Rio Grande Valley, to Laredo, to McAllen and to the land of enchantment, Mexico.