El Paso is not quite like anywhere else I've ever been. It's nothing like the rest of West Texas, it's nothing like Mexico, it's nothing like southern New Mexico. What the hell is it like? Just... El Paso. The one thing I've heard it compared to pretty frequently is Mos Eisley from Star Wars. I think I can buy that.

El Paso's out in the middle of the desert, and one look tells you that the place's main rationale is trade. Not all of it legal, either, but that's part of the charm. All sorts of things come over that bridge from Ciduad Juarez; I met this guy who claimed that for a few thou he could get me an old woman, to use as I pleased. I passed.

Even as you ride into El Paso, you can tell that it's a place where different worlds meet. The city's surrounded by hills and mountains, and half of them have crucifixes on top. The other half have cell phone towers. There are scorpions in the desert, and people more dangerous than the scorpions in town. Every flat surface in the El Paso Greyhound station is covered with gang graffiti, and people with gold chains with little pendants shaped like Uzis wandering around inside.

I know a guy from El Paso. He looks Hispanic, has a Ukrainian last name, an unplacable accent, what whizkid would call transatlantic, and lots of cocaine all the time. He might be the spirit of the city come to life.

El Paso is my hometown. I lived there for 15 years and have never looked back. I think Narzos has spent more than a couple days there. I grew up on Salisbury which is almost directly off of Dyer. Dyer is a main street in the town and will get you almost anywhere. I will be visiting relatives there this weekend. They have a fairly large dunes area known as Red Sands which I'm going to have a blast on a dirtbike at. The University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) is the local college. Stay away from the south side, the, west side, and the northeast side of town. The north and east sides are fairly safe and tend to have a lot of the nice homes and neighborhoods. I grew up right next to Irvin High School, "Home of the Rockets". Interesting place to take a peek at, but I wouldn't recommend a permanent stay. Something to note is that El Paso used to be considered a vacation/tourist spot. You can find evidence of this in the May, 1957 edition of the National Geographic on page 26, where it is advertised.

El Paso is not as bad as these people make it seem like. No, it is not centered around drugs. (Although, the school I attend does have a lot of potheads (not me though))El Paso is multicultural, multiracial, and filled with history.

History. The region has been settled for hundreds of years by Native Americans. Inside present-day El Paso county was the site where the real first thanksgiving in the Americas was. This happened when the conquistador Don Juan de Onate's (that "n" should have a tilde above it) expedition passed the region, and, I believe, named the region El Paso del Norte. (El Paso is the name of the county and county seat, btw.) Actually, I believe El Paso del Norte was originally the name of Ciudad Juarez, which was renamed after the Mexican President Benito Juarez. El Paso, Texas was previously known as Franklin. btw, the mountains in the middle of the city are called the Franklin mountains.

Anyway, the oldest missions in Texas and some of the oldest missions (and settlements) in Texas are in El Paso. The oldest missions here are the Ysleta and Socorro missions. To the east of the city is a great climbing and hiking spot called Hueco Tanks, a bolson. Through the centuries natives have inhabited Hueco Tanks, making paintings on the rocks that are similar to those found in caves. Among the paintings is the famous Speaking Rock painting, for which the Speaking Rock casino (owned by the Ysleta Reservation) is named. In the vicinity of Hueco Tanks is the beautiful Butterfield trail, which has some interesting history (which I cannot remember). I'm missing alot of historical events, but looking for books by Leon Metz will uncover tons of historical data.

Geography. The (relatively) small part of the mountain on the westside of El Paso where Scenic Road lies is called Crazy Cat mountain. It is the site of a fault line. There 4 (or 3?) fault lines in El Paso. Some are visible, others are not. On the mountain the coloring of the rock shows what resembles the mystical thunderbird (although I can't see it). Ok, onto the layout of the city. Squished in the western most corner of Texas is Anthony, Texas, and then "the Valley". This is the name for far-west El Paso. It's green, full of trees, and has plenty of small lakes. This is where much of El Paso's upperclass lives. West of the Valley is the Westside. This is where I live. It's population is a mix between the upper-lowerclass and middleclass, economically. It's a safe place to be and with the exception of the lowerclass, is mostly white. It's mostly residential, except for Mesa St. and some of Westwind (some main streets on the Westside). Further along Mesa St. you will find UTEP, our college. UTEP lies immediately between the Westside, Mexico, the ASARCO refinery, and Downtown El Paso. Downtown El Paso is almost completely a commercial zone. There are a few large buildings here (ie. 8+ stories). They are either banks, the Kaiser Center (once the home of El Paso Natural Gas, now El Paso Corporation (and now out of El Paso)), the Camino Real Hotel, or the Cress building. northwest of Downtown on the mountain is the Rim Road area. Here one will find historic homes, small (and thus usually cheaper) and large (and VERY expensive). It's a nice region. Now, south of Downtown is the aptly named South El Paso. It is suggested that you DO NOT hang around here. This is essentially the bad part of town. Interestingly, Downtown is north of Interstate 10 and South El Paso is south of I-10. Also, in South El Paso is the Chamizal Memorial. This is the site where a border dispute between Mexico and the U.S. was settled (caused by the constantly changing flow of the Rio Grande (which isn't so grande)). The dispute was settled, part of the Rio riverbed was semented so its flow would not change, and fences between the two countries were eventually put up (due to illegal immigration). Also, you will see a VERY BIG Mexican flag on the Mexican side of the Rio at the Chamizal.

Ok, onward to the Eastside and Northeast. Due to the shape of Texas there is no Northwest El Paso. If you cross the mountain from the Westside or just go north from the Eastside you will reach the Northeast. This is the other El Paso. It has until recently lacked anything interesting (according to the rest of El Paso). Well, unless you think the baseball stadium in the NE is interesting. Actually, I'm not really familiar with that part of El Paso since I rarely have a need to go there. (I occassionally visit my friend who lives in the NE.) The Eastside is VERY BIG. It has lots of traffic, lots of businesses, and is very diverse economically. Although, it's a long way from the Westside so we Westsiders usually don't go there. The Westside is great, anyway. To the east of the Eastside is the Far-Eastside, which is rapidly reaching our neighbor, Horizon City. East is essentially the only direction El Paso can grow at this time (not completely true) because of El Paso's location in the western corner of Texas.

Those are the parts of El Paso. NW of El Paso is Anthony, New Mexico, Santa Teresa, NM, and Las Cruces, NM. East of El Paso in El Paso County is Tornillo, Horizon City, and probably other smaller towns and cities. South of El Paso is Ciudad Juarez. The El Paso/Ciudad Juarez region is the only place on the Mexican-U.S. border where two cities lie directly across from each other. Because of this, El Paso is important economically as is Ciudad Juarez.

Miscellaneous. We are also very close to the White Sands Missile Range. White Sands is where much of America's missiles are tested. It is also the only site besides Cape Canaveral, Florida where the space shuttle has landed. White Sands is also the site of the Trinity nuclear test. Inside El Paso is Fort Bliss. It is where the Patriot missile reserves are, among other things. Northeast of El Paso in NM is Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns, one of the largest cave systems in North America. West of El Paso is a great place to off-road. East of El Paso is the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas. Also in Ft. Davis is Prude Ranch, which is said to be haunted. Also East of El Paso is Marfa, Texas where you will see at night a mysterious phenomena known as the Marfa lights. NW of El Paso is the Gilla Cliff Dwellings. You can probably tell that the El Paso area and NM are essentially military and reservation infested sites. Ok, I'm sure there are plenty of other strange and/or historical attractions nearby, but I don't remember any. As a sidenote, while El Paso is part of the Central Time zone along with the rest of Texas, it observes Mountain Time. Another reason to other Texas besides our unique culture. At night if you are on the mountain, you can see the lights from New Mexico, Juarez, El Paso, the stars, and the lit cross on Mount Cristo Rey. I believe the Mexican flag at the Chamizal is left on its flagpole, lit by its own lights at the base of the flagpole. If you are on the correct part of the mountain you might see it too at night. If you see this site, you will know how unique El Paso is. I'm tired so I'll stop writing.

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