Monday, April 27, 2009


It is hard to believe that a semester has already passed since I started this blog. What began as a school project will most definitely end with this semester. Keeping a blog for Borderbeat has been a difficult part of the class because I'm not a big blogger. Sure, I'll read an interesting post when they surface but I don't subscribe to blogs religiously. I really enjoyed some of the people I met and places I traveled for this class though.

Whether I was talking to coffee roasters in Mexico or a Panama hat finisher in Bisbee, Ariz., I was having a great time. The people I interviewed were so ready to tell their stories that I was grateful to be able to listen. Sometimes the road trips got a little tedious, especially when I traveled on unpaved roads (see photo on right), but it was still always fun.

The best part about Borderbeat is the fact that everyone contributed in their own way. I was able to write story packages that I am proud of (see links in previous paragraph). They include audio, video, still photography and text. I'm really excited because this is what I hoped to accomplish in this class! In addition, I have been told by readers that the topics I chose to write about are interesting. This is exciting to hear because the number one goal in journalism is to write something that people want to read.

For all of those future Borderbeat stars, good luck. Remember to write about things that interest you. If you do that, you will never have problems meeting your deadlines. If you start writing about things that bore you, your readers will know and become less interested in your words!

Monday, April 20, 2009


A few weeks ago I traveled to Ruby, Ariz. to check out an old ghost town. It turns out Ruby is the second most well preserved ghost town in the state, which is saying something because Arizona has over 275 of them! I spent the whole afternoon talking with Sundog, the current caretaker of the town.
He lives alone on the property without electricity or running water, and the two lakes in town are the only reason he can handle the heat of the desert, especially during the summer. Ruby is just four miles north of the Mexico border and Sundog had quite a few interesting stories to tell us about the area.

"It's still a pretty crazy neighborhood," said Sundog. "Three big drug cartels in this area are fighting for territory. They still have shootouts."

The day we visited Sundog had been woken up by some Mexican immigrants walking through the desert trying to enter the United States illegally. It's a common occurrence for the caretaker, who said that there are well established routes through the mountains in the area.

In fact, Samaritans, a humanitarian group dedicated to saving lives of migrants in Arizona, supplies Sundog with food packets and water to give to suffering travelers.

"I'm always good for food, water and directions," he said, adding that, "People who actually come to the house need some help. Some walk for days to get here."

Sundog seemed a little bit disgruntled about being woken up that morning, but he didn't hold a grudge. Born in California in 1957, he remembers never feeling very comfortable in his hometown of Los Angeles. He left in the late 1980's to travel for about 14 years. During his Mexico travels he remembers having a lot of fun.

"I got treated like royalty everywhere I went," said Sundog. "The Mexican people are the sweetest people on Earth." Sundog credits these experiences with why he has so much sympathy for the migrants he encounters. His story serves as a great example of why you should respect people from all over, no matter where you are, because you never know when it's going to come back around.

Monday, April 6, 2009

St. Andrew's Clinic

Last week I had the opportunity to witness a gathering of physicians, volunteers, and medical patients who traveled to Nogales, Arizona for a medical clinic that happens once a month. The Saint Andrew's Children's Clinic is probably one of the most amazing things I have seen. For one day, the Church turns into a hospital. Children from Mexico are allowed to cross the border for a day to receive important medical attention that they may otherwise not have an opportunity to get. Here are a few photos from the day:This is Juan Cuadras Ballori, 10. He and his mother, Maria, travel to the clinic every month from Rocky Point. They have been doing this for six years. I spent a lot of time with him on Thursday, and was disappointed when the hearing aide he was supposed recieve was not ready. To read more about this check out my future story on Borderbeat.

I hung out with a lot of kids at this clinic. It was so fun to see how happy they are, but sad to watch a boy crawling on the floor because his family can't afford a wheel chair of crutches. It was a very enlightening experience and awesome to see all different people coming together to help these children who are in need.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Travel Resources

Update: Later this week I will start posting some cool places to visit in different countries. It will go along with a travel destination resource page I created for the
Border Beat online news magazine. I'll try to comment on cultural differences I encountered but be advised that some of the future posts might stray from my blog topic a little. I'll let you know by labeling them "Travel: Name of Place."


Toilets are a necessity in the 10 states I have visited in the U.S. They come in all different colors but there is always a standard design whether it's an outhouse or a luxury bathroom.

I have found out this isn't always the case in other countries. Problem such as an inconsistent water supply have resulted in some interesting, and at times disgusting, solutions. In addition, the design the U.S. has adopted isn't always what you will find while traveling. This can be quite confusing for a tourist, especially if you don't speak the language of the locals. If you are planning on traveling it might be helpful to research the bathroom situation before you go to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation!

Here are some interesting sites I found when I did that:

Japanese Toilets"
This is a great site with photos of what to expect when you travel to Japan. I've never been there but I thought there were some pretty innovative ideas, such as a toilet paper vending machine. I'm accustomed to seeing people asking for a few pesos in exchange for a couple squares of TP in Mexico, but Japan just took that to the next level!

U.S. Toilet Guide
I always thought the most sensible toilet was the one I used myself but this site showed me that ours may confuse foreigners. This page explains things like automatic flushing and proper terms to use when asking where the restroom is. Check out some of the other pages that discuss cultural differences. It makes you think about what an outsider has to do to understand some of the most basic activities in our country.

Lastly, here's a video of some girls traveling in Central America. Although the design is usually pretty similar to ours, sometimes these girls ran into some really oddly placed toilets. The audio is only helpful to hear where they are and Part Six goes on for more than two minutes. That bathroom is interesting because one of the girls was washing her hair when the water randomly went out.


So be advised that when you travel in a new country you might get confused by the toilet prepared to have an open mind and try not to offend anyone with your reaction if you get presented with a new type of toilet!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Personal Space

Sorry about the hiatus to all my avid readers, I have been busy with all of my other classes lately. But I am back and promise to keep up with all of my posts. I'll even try to do some extra ones to make up for lost time!

I just got back to Tucson from Spring Break! It was the last one of my undergrad career so I decided to go out with a bang and head to Los Angeles to visit some friends at LMU. It was great but after the first night I wished I had my own hotel room. There were at least 12 people in a three bedroom house each night, and sometimes that number was higher. It got me thinking about how uncomfortable it can be when someone invades my personal space. That made me start thinking about how different my expectations are in terms of a "personal bubble" when I'm in a different country. For example, when I wait in line at an ATM in the U.S. I stand several feet away from the person who is using the machine. In many countries this custom is not recognized and Americans are often forced out of their comfort zones because of it. Check out this photo of my brother, Phil, at an ATM in Xcalak, Mexico. The local kids were curious and their parents didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with the way their obsession over the ATM screen.

I had a great time watching from afar as my big brother tried to get money out of an ATM that didn't have any money in it while shielding his pin number from these curious kids. The whole point though is that all countries don't have the same expectations when it comes to personal space.

This video is just some guys talking about "Man Laws" and personal space. It made me realize that nobody has the same expectations when it comes to space, no matter where you're from. I hope you laugh as much as I did when I first saw it!

Below is a video with a professional talking about space etiquette in the U.S.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ugly American

This week I want to talk about tourism. Preparing to travel across borders can be a very scary thing, especially if you've never done it before. You want to make sure you have everything you need but also have to keep your luggage at a reasonable weight now that airlines charge you at least the price of dinner to transport your bags. And on top of all that, many tourists feel unwelcome in some countries.

"You've got to make sure you don't become the ugly American," said Stephen Grant Sergot, who traveled to Ecuador several years ago to conduct business. During his 65 day trip his patience was tried but Sergot didn't allow it to bother him. As a result the local people he interacted with in Ecuador welcomed him.

Even if Sergot's experience isn't typical of every American tourist, those travelers who do feel out of place in a new country shouldn't take it to heart. According to an article in the New York Times, becoming an "ugly" tourist is no longer just an American problem. A more recent article from the International Herald Tribune discusses anti-American sentiments and where they come from.

Whatever the case may be, it is true that tourists can offend locals no matter what country you're in. As a result, there are numerous guides published by different companies that attempt to instruct tourists.

Here are two videos I found on You Tube. The first is from the 1963 video "The Ugly American." This movie was based on the 1958 novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer of the same name and is the first source of the term "ugly American." The second is a funny animated short about cultural differences that won an award in 2008.