El Paso is the sixth largest city in Texas, on the United States-Mexico border. The city on the other side of the border is Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. El Paso is often called the Sun City. Collectively, the city of El Paso and other nearby cities, such as Juarez and Las Cruces, New Mexico are referred to as The Borderland.
The Spanish language is an important part of life to El Pasoans. It's not always necessary to know Spanish, but it can help in some situations! To say yes is Si, No is No. Gracias is thank you in Spanish. Given that Spanish tends to be a more formal language than English, you will be even better received if can manage "Si/no, señor/señora/señorita" ("Yes/no, sir/ma'am/miss"), and "No, gracias" ("No, thank you"), rather than a curt "Si" or "no." To ask for the restroom, say ¿Dónde está el baño?. When asking for directions, you might need a mapa, or map. The calle or street you are looking for may be izquierda (left) or derecha (right). You may want to take an autobus which is cerca de la plaza, or the bus is near the town square.
And if all else fails, and communication is at a stand still, smile and say Lo siento. No hablo Español.
El Paso is geographically divided into several parts with the Franklin Mountains and Fort Bliss cutting the city into distinct sections. Each area has its own style and culture.
West Side is between the Franklin mountains and Mexico and New Mexico includes El Paso's most affluent neighborhoods along the side of the mountain. Providence Memorial Hospital, Sierra Medical Center, Las Palmas Medical Center, El Paso Country Club, and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are located here. The UTEP area ("Kern Place") is emerging as an entertainment district with restaurants and nightclubs also known as the "Cincinnati Entertainment District". The Sun Bowl, Don Haskins center, and Centennial Gardens are all located on the UTEP campus.
Downtown is in the southern part of El Paso, just below the tip of the Franklin Mountains. The streets of Downtown are often difficult to navigate for first time visitors, especially with the current construction. Parking (there are many cheap areas to park your car for the day) is probably the best bet. Walking through Downtown, there are many little shops reminiscent of Mexico and many small cafes. Many of the buildings are historic and very beautiful. The Downtown area boasts a beautiful plaza in the center of the city. The El Paso Museum of Art, the Plaza Theater, El Paso Civic Center and a children's science museum, Insights, are all located here. Extensive renovations are taking place in the Downtown area. Nearby on Paisano Street is the El Paso Zoo .
North East El Paso is home to Fort Bliss Military Base. Fort Bliss is one of the largest US Military bases in the world and Northeast El Paso is home to many active and retired servicemen and women. Fort Bliss located near the airport with adjacent Biggs Army Airfield has a great influence on Northeast El Paso culture. Tours of Fort Bliss can be arranged, or if you know a service member, have them give you a tour. . Outside of base are many military surplus stores.
East Side of El Paso is the fastest growing area mostly home to middle class working families. The Socorro Student Activities Complex (SAC), Del Sol Medical Center, Las Palmas Marketplace, Cielo Vista Mall and Bassett Center are all located in East El Paso. It is close to the Mission Trails area and Hueco Tanks State Historic Site.