Our new home has us living about 1 mile from the Mexican border, which is kind of exciting.  Although we are super close to the frontera/the border the Mission/McAllen area is very nice.  In fact, most of the residents are affluent Mexican ex-pats who were able to come "al otro lado/ the other side" and escape the violence.  We live in what is called the Rio Grande Valley.  Unfortunately, México has been having a very tough time with crime and violence so going across the border is not really encouraged. 
After doing a little research, B and I decided to go an take a peek at what's on the other side.  We were recommended to park our car on the US side and walk in via the Nuevo Progreso entrance to México.  I was definitely a little bit nervous, but our plan was to just stay in the first few blocks past the border and head home.  It was a bit comforting to see many Winter Texans crossing over but still we were on high alert.  To tell you the truth it was very heartbreaking to see how hard people have to hustle to survive.  B and I just walked a few blocks and turned around (which is HIGHLY recommended).  You definitely do not want to leave the border town.  It's incredible to see the drastic change in the quality of life once you cross the border. 
Nuevo Progreso offers the usual artisan crafts and other goodies that you can pick up along the way but honestly, I was so over stimulated and a tad stressed that it was not the most relaxing venture.  Still the adventurist in us wanted to see what was "al otro lado" and we did.  In case you are wondering why I don't have more pictures, it's because you do not want to draw any attention to yourself while you are here and I really didn't feel comfortable snapping away. 
Winter Texans and other folks come here for more affordable dental work, pharmaceuticals and of course some other lower priced ammenities.  This trip was not like the trips of my youth from LA to Tijuana which usually meant a little partying and a beachy lighthearted time.  México is a beautiful  country and Mexicans are very courageous, wonderful,  sweet people but it's hard to truly enjoy the culture and the beauty of this land knowing the struggle that they currently have to endure.  I know I usually take you to happy places and I do believe in my heart this is a wonderful land.   But in my opinion, part of traveling is also understanding and acknowledging what the day to day life is like for the locals. 
 If you want to learn more about the situation in México check out this article from NPR.