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Piedras Negras/Mexico

Introducing Piedras Negras

The border crossing between Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass, Texas, is a major commercial route. Piedras Negras is not an attractive city and not somewhere you’ll want to linger long, but some of the historic buildings around the plaza principal, just over the Puente Internacional No 1, have been spruced up and you’ll find plenty of Mexican leather goods, ceramics and crafts for sale in the Zaragoza Market just south of the plaza. The tourist office (782-13-54; www.piedrasnegras.gob.mx; Ocampo s/n; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat) is at the foot of the bridge.

The city’s newest attraction is the Plaza de las Culturas (Av Fausto Martinez) with sculpture, murals and pyramids representing Mexico’s three main ancient cultures: Aztec, Olmec and Maya. The replica Pirámide del Sol has a small natural history museum (9am-9pm Mon-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri-Sun) inside. Sadly, the whole thing isn’t nearly as neat as it sounds.

Legend has it that Piedras Negras is the birthplace of the nacho, said to have been invented in 1943 by bar-owner Ignacio (Nacho) Anaya. The town holds its three-day International Nacho Festival in early October.

There are many hotels on Av Carranza southwest of the bus station. With bright homey rooms, a good restaurant and even a playground for children, the California Inn (782-77-69; www.californiainn.piedras-negras.com; Carranza 1006; s/d/tr M$430/509/755; ) makes a very comfortable base.

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