The Polluted Rio Grande
We decided to head to the Southern tip of Texas to find out why people in the area chose Kerry over Bush. In passing conversations, most people say Kerry won because the area is populated by poor Latinos.
First stop: Laredo, the fastest growing city on the Rio Grande. More than 90 percent of Laredo's population is Latino, and most residents are bilingual. Laredo and Mexico are separated by the heavily polluted Rio Grande. According to Lonely Planet, Immigration and Naturalization Service officers a re forbidden to pursue people into the water because it's so contaminated.
Driving near the Mexican border, we thought we finally escaped Chain Store USA. The streets are narrow and full of taco carts and stores selling cheap trinkets from both Mexico and China. We also spotted several Gun & Ammo shops. Then we entered the "new" area of town and were greeted by the usual suspects: Best Buy, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Radio Shack and Old Navy. There is no escaping chain stores. The development is no different from one town to the next.
We then stopped in a local restaurant to find more than 25 deer heads, five boar heads, snakes and a variety of other creatures. After asking our waiter where we could find wireless Internet access, he excitedly said there's a Starbucks up the road and two Wal-Marts in town!