Fun With Border-Hopping at Mexican Amusement Park
If your idea of a romantic getaway involves sprinting across a desert on a moonless night while dodging rattlesnakes, prickly pears, and the occasional drug runner, then call now to reserve your spot at the Parco EcoAlberto. Perched in the ruggedly gorgeous Mezquital Valley of Mexico’s central Hidalgo province, this wilderness amusement park offers ziplining, rappelling, rustic cabins — and a simulated border crossing, more than 800 miles south of the actual Rio Grande. For approximately $20 you can take the Night Walk, a guided recreation of the border-crossing experience; highlights include run-ins with pretend Border Patrol agents and menacing narcotics traffickers.
Absurd as it is, however, the Night Walk has a serious purpose. Far from preparing visitors who plan to emigrate, the park’s owners (members of the local HñaHñu tribe) are actually trying to discourage dreams of el Norte: “Our objective is to stop the immigration that exists amongst our citizens, principally from the state of Mexico to the U.S.,” park administrator Maribel Garcia told PBS NewsHour. The tribe hopes that those who undertake the Night Walk — many of whom are young people — will come away with a strong impression of the dangers and harsh conditions of an illegal crossing, and will therefore be likelier to stay behind and work to better their own country.