Besides excellent Mexican food, Laredo has plenty to offer a family looking to settle down on the South Texas border; however, the Gateway City is not without its drawbacks. Having grown up here, I can definitely vouch for that. Here are 10 reasons why I (only sometimes) wish I grew up literally anywhere BUT:
10. Not much to do
While I recognize that this hackneyed quibble is on most people’s list of hometown grievances, the older I’m getting the more I appreciate the joys of staying in. That being said, it would still be nice to have options for recreation other than mall (singular), movies, clubbing. I recall being 12 and being so excited at the opening of our second Wal-Mart (a Super Wal-Mart at that). Today we boast 4.
9. No diversity
Several studies over the years have shown Laredo to be one of the least ethnically diverse cities in the entire country, with over 95% of the population being Hispanic or Latino. I’m part of this demographic myself and while I love my Tex-Mex culture, ‘Least Diverse City’ isn’t a moniker that sounds good in any context. Travel has always somewhat disoriented me as a result – even within the state. Laredo was also the largest city without a single bookstore in 2010, but y’all didn’t need to know that.
8. Too hot
Sun’s out guns out, amirite? While warmer climates are more conducive to working out outside and enjoying a stroll through the park, temperatures in Laredo can be brutal in the summer, climbing as high as 110°. Ever put your hands on a steering wheel down here in the middle of August?
7. Our association with a certain industry
A&E’s short-lived 2011 docuseries, Bordertown: Laredo, chronicled our local narcotics unit’s perennial battle with the drug trade. The show, while riveting and one of the few instances my hometown has been featured in mainstream media, cast an unflattering light on the city. And no, this wasn’t a one-off. I suppose every place has its dark side, but the stigma of violence and extortion has kept tourism relatively at bay in recent decades.
6. Everyone’s either too young…
Ever been the oldest one at a party? The whole town feels just like that if you’re over 22 and single. Maybe this has just been my experience. I was one of the oldest ones in my class and many of my friends moved away first chance they got. According to this website, 35.5% of the population is under 18. I knew I wasn’t crazy.
5. or too married
I’m not too sure this one belongs on this list, but I just thought I’d throw it in. If you’re single in your mid-20s and living in Laredo, chances are most of your friends will be married, engaged, having babies, or simply too busy (?). Sometimes I just wanna hang out with buddies off-the-cuff, but methinks those days are gone.
4. It’s who you know
Nepotism is rampant in Laredo. Your qualifications may be stellar, but if you’re up against someone’s primo, chances are you’re not even getting the interview. Also, the city seems to always be plastered with political signs depicting local politicians vying for your vote – a college classmate who’d moved here from all over told me he’d never seen so many.
3. New establishments typically don’t last long
This one’s closely tied to #10. While froyo shops thrive here, admittedly, it seems like any time a hip new restaurant, trendy hang out, or otherwise niche business opens its doors, it ends up just becoming a pop-up that fails in 5 years’ time. We lost our 2 Arby’s in less than 10 years. Man, I miss the meats.
2. George Washington
I kid; any reason to have a fiesta is good enough for me. Still, it’s always given me a chuckle that my hometown hosts a month-long jamboree every year in honor of a man who was president long before Texas was ever part of the Union. The events are real fun though – complete with jalapeño-eating contests, Tejano concerts, carnivals, and parades.
1. Too comfortable
All in all, something about Laredo always pulls me back. The yummy Tex-Mex food, the fact that everything is conveniently located, and the social levity never prepared me for faster-paced life elsewhere. Not sure if these qualify as gripes, but my hometown definitely spoiled me.