LAREDO, population 200,000, is situated at the southern terminus of I-35 (the northern terminus is 1600 miles to the north in Duluth, MN). A busy bridge connects the USA to Mexico at the bottom of Convent Avenue, where a major Border Patrol presence exists. As battles between Mexican drug cartels have escalated in recent years, Laredo and its sister city across the border have garnered a violent reputation – most of the real risk is in Mexico though.
The focus of Laredo’s main square is the pretty St Augustin Cathedral, a couple of blocks north of the Rio Grande at 200 St Augustin Ave, containing a modernist mural of the Crucifixion; there’s a pleasant stone grotto outside. Otherwise, there’s not much to do other than eat, drink and take in the atmosphere: this city, perhaps more than any other in Texas, reflects a strong Latino influence, evident in everything from the food to blaring hip-hop music.