[Music] Pati, voice-over: The diversity of la frontera is what gives it a never-ending flow of possibilities.
The people, the communities, the ecosystems, all thrive many times against the odds when they can seamlessly flow and collaborate between borders.
Pati: What a treasure.
Pati, voice-over: Between Sonora and Arizona, and New Mexico and Chihuahua are some of the most unique and even biodiverse places along the border.
Pati, voice-over: Can we design spaces that bring communities together?
Pati: Oh, it can go fast.
Man: Oh, it'll go fast.
Pati, voice-over: How does billions in free trade allow both nations to prosper economically?
Without the U.S., Mexico wouldn't be the same.
And without Mexico, the United States wouldn't be the same.
Pati, voice-over: What is the impact of a more integrated school system on our binational and bicultural communities?
And from a Mexican chef who has been eating spice her entire life, how can a town in the United States possibly call itself the chile capital of the world?
People here are just like the Hatch chiles, bold and strong.
Pati, voice-over: In this episode, I'm going back to the middle of the map and even a little back in time to connect to where I started last season completing my journey through the borderlands.
Una, dos, tres.
Pati, voice-over: I'm Pati Jinich.
I'm a chef, a writer, an immigrant.
On this season, I'm traveling the border from California and Baja to New Mexico and Chihuahua to uncover the stories beneath the headlines and celebrate the beauty of the people who call themselves fronterizos.
Pati, voice-over: Mexico is my heart.
The United States is now my home.
And in the space between is La Frontera.
[Music] Pati, voice-over: This horno or oven is a little bit of home for migrants staying at Casa de la Misericordia in Nogales, Sonora.
And this guy, Ronald Rael, built it.
Ron: This will have a lot of wood.
It's gonna get really hot and it'll be comfortable, and you'll wanna hug it.
Pati: [Laughs] ¿Sí?
Pati, voice-over: Ron is an award-winning architect and professor at UC Berkeley and specializes in design that brings communities together.
In 2019, his temporary Teeter-Totter Wall connected kids on both sides of the border in a rare moment of unity.
The next year, he teamed up with the nonprofit, Alight, to build hornos at shelters along the border like this one, where migrants can make and share meals together.
Ron: I think my work here is about building a community that maybe I lost at one point in my life.
Pati, voice-over: Ronald grew up in Florida, Colorado, which was the U.S.-Mexico borderlands of the 1840s.
Ron: When I was young, everybody in the village spoke Spanish, cooked frijoles, cooked chile, cooked tortillas.
This is how I grew up and then I went away to college and all of my grandmothers, great-grandmothers and my tías and tíos, they died.
And I came back from college and the world changed.
Nobody's speaking Spanish anymore.
Nobody--people were moving away.
And so it's a really beautiful moment, I think, of sharing, not only for, you know, me working here, but they're really helping me.
Pati, voice-over: Ron's next idea is to use this corner of the yard to put a house made with 10,000 pounds of border wall steel he calls Casa Unida.
This is a roof currently kept at a museum in Arizona.
Ron: We came up with this idea that it was also an horno, but instead of being an horno for pan, it's an horno for ideas.
It's a place that we start to cook ideas and thoughts and... pensamientos y recuerdos.
And it could be a place where people who come here can leave something here or place something where they remember, um, this moment of coming together in the community before they continue on in their journey.
Pati, voice-over: It was conceived through the collaboration with migrants and the shelter director, Sister Lika, a former Catholic nun.
Entonces, ¿cuál era el plan?
¿Esto lo hicieron para crear un espacio?
Un espacio espiritual.
Un espacio cómodo donde pudieras estar-- la familia sola, o tú quieres llorar, tú quieres, este, encontrarte contigo mismo.
Pati, voice-over: Here, at the shelter, many people are seeking asylum in the United States.
They've escaped horrific violence in Central America, Mexico, and even Africa and India.
Entonces, son historias muy trágicas.
Entonces, todos los que están aquí o han perdido a un familiar, al esposo, al papá, al hermano, a su hijo.
¿Y cómo le haces tú para tener una capita que no te afecte tanto esto y puedas seguir atendiendo a la gente y no te rompa, no?
Pues, en pedacitos, siendo sensible y como eres, que quieres tanto a la gente.
Pero me imagino que no, pues, duele, ¿no?
Sí, pues, duele.
Duele, pero finalmente ¿quién nos va a dar la fuerza?
Es superimportante, superpoderoso.
No, gracias a ti.
Pati, voice-over: Ron wouldn't have a place to put the horno or Casa Unida if it wasn't for Sister Lika's rebellious nature.
She spent three decades as a nun traveling the world and helping those in need until one day... Me invitaron a salir.
[Laughter] Siempre fui, yo creo, muy... muy revolucionaria.
Se puede decir muy, este, cuestionadora a veces.
Pati, voice-over: The sisters weren't too thrilled that she was always dreaming up new community projects.
She left the convent, but still follows her faith.
And in 2020, she started Casa de la Misericordia.
In only a few short years, she's given food, shelter and schooling to hundreds of families.
The shelter will never be the same as home, but there are things that can help, which is why the fire of the horno is a comforting light in the darkness.
It brings joy to their journey.
And making bread connects people no matter where they're from.
Bueno, yo ya vi que ahí hay harina, entonces, ¿verdad?
Esther, ¿qué siente usted que hace el pan y el horno que la ha traído aquí a su comunidad?
Esther: Pues, mucha alegría.
Me siento muy comfortada porque sé que no nomás yo soy la que-- la favorecida, sino que la comunidad también.
Pati: ¿Sienten que tienen algo en común con la gente que se encuentran aquí?
Yo creo que todos venimos en la misma etapa y en el mismo camino con diferentes historias.
Eso es lo más-- lo diferente, pero igual dejar a la gente querida.
A su familia, a su comunidad.
Una vida atrás.
Todas dejamos una vida atrás.
¿Cómo fue el camino desde donde venías hasta aquí?
Fue todo el tiempo estar huyendo de un lugar a otro, sin esperar a que nos encontraran.
Nos estaban casi pisando los talones y tuvimos que ir de un lugar a otro, y llegando aquí, pues, nos sentimos un poco más... más tranquilas.
Porque no vivíamos con nada de paz.
Pati: Cuando llegaste aquí, ¿sentiste como que habías llegado a un lugar en donde ibas a tener seguridad?
Ron: The whole goal of building this horno is to build a community here in the shelter.
And we're now gathered around the horno, we can feel the warmth of it, we can smell the beautiful mesquite wood.
And there's many generations involved here, making the masa for the bread and they're talking, they're sharing.
I'm just watching the young girl at the end looking at the woman next to her, how she's throwing the bread and how she's making the masa.
And she's learning.
She's learning this moment of making bread that she'll remember the rest of her life.
And that's how we... how we make community.
Uno, dos... !¡tres!
Otra porque se siente rico, uno desquita, uno desquita.
Pati, voice-over: If one horno can build a community like this, imagine what many ovens could do.
Pati: ¿Y cuál es su plan para el futuro?
¿Quieren hacer más hornos de adobe en varios puntos de la frontera?
Ron: Pues, no sé, yo quiero hacer muchos hornos a lo largo de la frontera, pero a ver sí... Decía: "cien hornos en la frontera ahí".
Pati: Qué suavecito.
Tú querías de este, Ron.
Yo no había tomado.
Niño: Vamos a comer.
Sus mamás me van a regañar.
Díganle a las niñas que vengan también.
¿Por qué puro niño?
Lika: Y compártanlo.
Pati, voice-over: So while Ron builds hornos, Sister Lika says she's rebuilding humanity.
Lika: Es que mira, son historias tan quebrantadas que aquí se reconstruyen las vidas.
Aquí se reconstruye la humanidad de cada uno de los que está llegando.
Y son personas, humanas.
Pati, voice-over: A mural on the wall of Casa de la Misericordia depicts the journey migrants make.
People from different countries, but with one common goal: to find a safe place to call home.
[Music] The diversity of la frontera isn't just found in its people, it's also found in its places.
At the intersection of Arizona and Sonora, there's one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet: the Sky Islands.
This series of isolated pine-studded mountain ranges separated by desert and grassland are home to more than 7000 species of plants and animals.
Emily: These are really one of our best tools as biologists to understand which animals are in the area.
Pati, voice-over: Emily Burns and Bryon Lichtenhan are the watchers of this wilderness.
Emily: In this 30-mile stretch of border, we have over 50,000 wildlife detections on our cameras.
So they're all around us.
Pati, voice-over: As researchers for Sky Island Alliance, a non-profit conservation group, they've placed dozens of cameras along the border to study the migration patterns of wildlife.
Emily: We're trying to show the world that the same species live in Sonora and in Arizona and the animals are moving back and forth, looking for water, looking for food, looking for love, looking for shelter.
Pati, voice-over: The cameras, triggered by heat and movement have captured rare photographs, like the American kestrel, antelope jackrabbits, black bears, even an animal I've been dying to meet: the prickly porcupine.
And so, we're looking to protect these places, like this area, this forest, this grassland.
So that black bear, and mountain lion and when jaguar decides to come back into the U.S., it has a place to do that, a pathway that they can find.
Pati, voice-over: Two-thirds of Arizona's border with Sonora is blocked with a wall.
We're standing at one of the remaining spaces where animals can still pass through.
Erin: And we're trying to keep it that way.
It's--it's calm and peaceful and nature is flowing back and forth as it should, as it has, you know, for countless generations.
There is always the risk that the government will put up a wall here and that will stop animals in their tracks.
Pati, voice-over: Mining is also a threat.
With international companies holding claims to thousands of acres of land.
Copper and lithium are in demand and mining for them has a big impact on the water supply.
Bryon: Without that water, the wildlife doesn't exist, the birds don't exist, the plants don't exist, and humans are gonna have a really hard time existing too, so.
Is there a scarcity of copper and lithium that people are looking for it here?
There's concentrations of those metals here.
I think, for us, we see the remarkable diversity on this landscape.
There are certain habitats, forests, mountains, jaguar country, that's not replaceable.
It doesn't mean no mining ever anywhere, but we need to think about where we're choosing to do this extractive work that has a serious and probably fatal impact on species that are really important to our planet.
Pati: And does it tell you if it's spotted animals?
Or you just have to go through all of them?
Emily: No, we have to look through all of them.
Yeah, we look at about a million photographs a year.
Yes, there's been something out here.
My guess it's probably we have--had jabalina and deer right here and sometimes there's birds that fly over the grass.
Perhaps you can tell it, that little blur is down at the bottom right?
That's my porcupine.
Emily: That would be exciting.
I'm obsessing about finding a porcupine.
And what's your favorite animal?
Well, I have a soft spot for badger.
What's a badger?
Badger is like... Pati, voice-over: OK, you guys, English is not my first language.
I learn new words every day.
They're in the weasel family.
They're a carnivore.
Pati, voice-over: Oh, another word.
It's a carnivore.
Pati: You're so in love with this place and I can see why, but so many people don't know about it.
What's your hope for the future and what do you want people to know about?
This is all part of our shared backyard.
This is part of our cultural history, our legacy here, and I hope people come and fall in love with it, because if they do, I know they'll help protect it.
Yeah, I love this view here because I think it's a great example of why we call this region the Sky Islands, you know?
We're looking back here and you can see how different these mountains are from the grasslands surrounding them.
It really looks like you're looking across this sea of grass to these islands, uh, that are forested with oaks, and firs, and pine trees and everything.
Emily: Yeah, this is where wolves run with jaguar.
Pati, voice-over: Every direction you look is a postcard.
But there's no food in sight unless you know where to look.
Bryon is not only an expert on tracking animals.
So right along here is a good set of skunk tracks.
It's walking south, like straight towards the border, basically.
Pati, voice-over: But lucky for me, also an expert on foraging for food.
Are you hungry?
I'm always hungry.
And I love jars of things.
And I love jars of things that I've never tried before, so I'm excited.
Pati, voice-over: Bryon has brought lots of jars full of foods foraged from the park.
Like Emory acorns.
They taste like chocolate, coffee.
Pati, voice-over: The manzanita berries.
Oh, these taste like peaches.
Pati, voice-over: We also try some tart sumac berries.
And these scrumptious dry saguaro fruit.
It's the fruit of the saguaro cactus.
Pollinated first by bats and birds and bees of the region in Mexico and the U.S. Just eat it like that?
Eat it, yeah.
So these seeds are totally chewable, crunchable.
This is like a combination of dried fig, dried strawberry.
The seeds inside are irresistibly crunchy.
What a treasure.
Many animals depend on these as food and we're lucky to share them, too.
Pati: You guys are like beyond ridiculously cool and so knowledgeable and so chill.
And I've learned so much.
I feel like now we're just gonna go look for the porcupines.
I'm feeling like they're down there where the water is.
They're watching us.
They're keeping an eye on things.
Pati, voice-over: While Emily, Bryon and my porcupines keep an eye on the migration of wildlife in the Sky Islands, the world of business has no trouble crossing between nations.
It's estimated that more than 600 billion dollars worth of goods and services are traded between the U.S. and Mexico every year.
A large part of that is produce.
Business is brisk at Cactus Melon Distributors in Nogales, Arizona.
Man: Hop on.
Pati, voice-over: This is an electric pallet jack.
It can go fast.
Man: Oh, it-- it'll go fast.
Pati, voice-over: These will move up to 18,000 tons of watermelons a year onto refrigerated trucks, which transport the fruit across the United States and Canada.
Man: So here we're just gonna make a--a turn right here and we are gonna go inside the truck, where this truck will take the product to its final destination.
Pati, voice-over: Marcos Murillo is the food safety manager here.
Pati: ¿Voy de regreso?
If we ever run short-handed, I know who to call.
Pati: Where are you shipping me now?
Oh, oh, you're letting me do it by myself.
You're-- You're by yourself.
You're such a great teacher.
Pati, voice-over: These watermelons were grown in Mexico, transported to their warehouse in Nogales, Sonora, and then trucked across the border at Nogales, Arizona, the busiest entry point for produce.
Christian Murillo is director of sales.
Christian's dad started the business 30 years ago.
How do you test for sugar?
Christian: Uh, first, we're gonna cut off the--the ends of the watermelon.
So this is the refractor meter right here.
Pati, voice-over: Inspecting the watermelons is part of Marcos' job.
He does a color and sugar test before shipping them out.
Marcos: This will tell us how much sugar, how much Brix is actually in our watermelon right now, OK?
So this one right here is a 9.4.
Anything from a 9 and above is good.
Can I taste a little?
Marcos: Sure, definitely.
This is really sweet.
This is really sweet.
Nine is still good.
Pati, voice-over: Mexico has been called the greenhouse for the United States.
During the cold months, Mexico exports more than 1.3 million tons of melons to the U.S. To ship across borders, companies hire customs brokers who help with everything from paperwork to logistics.
Cactus Melon uses Gamas Company, one of the largest customs brokers on the border.
You work here.
OK, they want to freeze me.
Pati, voice-over: And this is one of their cold storage warehouses.
It's used to store meat and produce while it gets inspected by the USDA before it's shipped all over the world.
Pati: It's so cold!
So it's a product that comes from Texas, it's processed in Mexico and goes to Japan.
Man: Yeah, exactly.
Pati, voice-over: Víctor André Gamas Mayer is a fourth generation customs broker.
We have more than 2000 clients operating in, uh, 180 countries.
And those clients expand from the mining industry to the produce industry, to the, uh, automobile industry, uh, and anything you can think of that is being produced in North America, we have a hand on it.
Now, tell me a little bit about the importance of your location on the borderlands.
Why is that so crucial and what happens here?
André: As a whole, looking at the borders, uh, between the United States and Mexico, Nogales is arguably the fourth most busiest port of entry, going from Laredo to El Paso, San Diego, Nogales.
But if we're talking about the produce industry, we could argue that this is the most important and the busiest one.
We have been here for more than 80 years, in Nogales, Sonora and Nogales.
My great grandfather arrived to Nogales, uh, Sonora to open the port of entry as a member of the Mexican military.
Later on, he received his license to become a customs broker.
And as time went on, my family grew and our family business grew.
The border, I heard once, is almost like a third country.
We are bicultural, binational, bilingual.
And that strength in being able to understand different cultures, different regions, different nationalities allows us to have a broader reach when we're working in business, when we're meeting people in our universities, or when we're simply going out for a walk and--and bumping into a neighbor.
Without the U.S., Mexico wouldn't be the same.
And without, uh, Mexico, the United States wouldn't be the same.
Pati, voice-over: And one thing is for sure, the U.S. would not be the same without Mexico's watermelon industry, which supplies the U.S. during the winter months.
Pati: And everything is watermelon-themed.
Christian: Everything is watermelon, just like you see here... Pati, voice-over: Christian's job is to sell watermelon.
And he's either really good at it, or maybe he likes them a little too much.
Pati: A watermelon painting.
Watermelon paintings, yes.
And I spy some beautiful watermelon ladies.
Yes, uh, every year, at the National Watermelon Convention, we elect, out of eight contestants, uh, we elect one national watermelon queen for--for a year.
Pati, voice-over: And now he's trying to convince me that watermelon can replace tomatoes.
Pati: OK, so this is your watermelon pico.
My watermelon pico de gallo.
Pati, voice-over: I'm definitely going to get emails from the tomato people.
Christian: So you should be getting a little bit of kick, but you still kind of get like a little sweet balance there.
Pati, voice-over: Next up, a poké replacing tuna with watermelon topped with watermelon rind instead of cucumber.
Pati, voice-over: OK, here come the tuna people emails and the cucumber people emails.
This last one feels like a bit of a stretch.
Nigiri sushi using seared watermelon instead of tuna.
I got too excited.
I'm supposed to do it in one bite?
No, you can take-- you can do it in two, yeah.
Now I lost mine.
Even though the watermelon is warm, it's still kind of refreshing, it still has a little bit of sweetness.
This is my favorite.
Pati, voice-over: I'm fully aware I'm getting the hard sell, but these are surprisingly tasty.
If you think the watermelon people are intense...
Pati, voice-over: Just wait until you meet the chile people.
[Music] A five-hour drive from Nogales, Arizona, is Hatch, New Mexico, widely considered the chile capital of the world.
But this Mexican will be the judge of that.
The--the sun feels so nice because it's getting so "chile."
Is it chilly or chile?
That's the big question around here.
It is chilly in this chile town.
Pati, voice-over: Andrea Álvarez is a product of four generations of chile farmers who've worked these fields since before New Mexico became a state in 1912.
Pati: I feel like most people think about Hatch chiles as a variety of chile.
A chile called Hatch.
It's actually not, so Hatch is a location, and everybody thinks that Hatch is the chile.
No, it's chile that's grown in Hatch, New Mexico.
OK. And there's different varieties of chile that are grown here, in the valley, that we're famous for.
And the reason we're so famous for it is because we have the perfect soil, the perfect PH balance, we're right next to the river.
We have the perfect weather, and all these different things come into contribute to make the chile taste in a way that no other chile tastes.
Now, tell me, there's green chile and red chile.
So if you order anything red in this valley, Sandia hot is what they're using and that's a variety.
OK. And what chile is typically used for the green chile?
It's gonna be the Big Jim.
It's the most famous variety here, in the Hatch valley.
Pati, voice-over: The town of Hatch is like a big family.
And Andrea is so dedicated that she even planned her soon-to-be child's birth around harvest season.
But she's concerned that a century of family farming tradition is threatened.
So much so that she's producing a documentary about how big corporations are taking over the family farms, and the younger generations are finding better economic opportunities elsewhere.
These kids are leaving, pursuing different careers and pursuing the American dream, and rightfully so, you know what I mean?
But as they're doing that, we're losing these skills of working in the field.
Pati, voice-over: Jesús Pérez and his wife, Esperanza, are a good example.
They've been in the chile business here for 40 years, working in the fields and selling decorative ristras that they make in a shed in their backyard.
Y platíqueme un poquito de los chiles.
Este, a ver, ¿este chile es el Sandía?
Es puro--el Sandía es el apropiado para-- Se ponen tres chiles por--por cada lado pa' que queden bonitos.
Pati, voice-over: At 70 years old, Jesús starts work at 5 a.m. every day.
Their three kids once helped, but have moved far away for different careers.
Pati: ¿Y cuántos nietos ya--cuántos hay--?
¿Cuántos nietos tiene, Pera?
Su hijo grande en UPS, su segunda hija se fue al ejército de combate.
Sí, la más chiquita, la que sigue de esa que está en el Army se casó con uno de la Fuerza Aérea de Pensilvania.
Entonces, ya nadie le siguió aquí en el campo con ustedes.
No, y todos saben hacer esto.
Y ahora los muchachos no--no les gusta el campo.
Pati, voice-over: Andrea's friend and mentor, Scott Adams is a fifth generation chile farmer.
In our school systems we're trying to train people away from the farms.
But now the government is actually offering programs for young farmers to come back to the farms because they'd wake up one day and say, "Well, we're not gonna have any food."
Pati, voice-over: Scott's family owns one of the bigger farms in town with upwards of 630 acres of chile in 15 different varieties.
So your family has been in the business for how long?
If I went back to my great-grandfather?
Probably, close to a hundred years.
So there's six children in my family.
I'm left here.
And then my brother is in Las Cruces.
My oldest brother.
That's it, yeah.
Sometimes the children are born.
And they have "farmer" on their forehead.
I have three daughters and one son, and they're all involved in the farm business.
And they all were born with "farmer" on their forehead?
Or you're making sure?
Or they brought farmers home.
Yeah, there's three girls and they married.
They said, "When you shop, shop right."
Bring farmers home.
But they all like this way of life?
They like this way of life.
Pati, voice-over: Valley Cafe is a family-owned restaurant and one of Andrea's favorite places to get enchiladas and flautas covered in chile sauce.
I can't decide on green or red, so I'm getting my enchiladas Christmas-style.
Oh, thank you.
Thank you so much.
Waitress: You guys, enjoy your food.
They look so good.
And rather than rolled enchiladas, that crunch's so delicious I'm inclined to steal one of those flautas from you.
That green chile is spicy.
Oh, my God, it's so spicy.
[Laughs] Have you tasted anything like it before?
I mean, I've tasted hot chiles.
For sure, but this is a very peculiar kind of heat and taste.
And it's just staying there.
Yep, it burns different.
And it just lingers.
It lingers, I was gonna say...
The food of a place resembles its people.
And having met you and so many people here from the community, people here are just like the Hatch chiles.
They're bold and strong.
What is it that you want to preserve and fight for?
That is--the most important thing to me is to continue to preserve a family tradition.
And I'm not the only one who feels that way.
I think it's something that's instilled in all of us.
Whether we're business owners, whether we're farmers, any individual particularly wants to create something that they can leave their child.
I think it's human nature.
It's the legacy.
Like, let's--let's take this kiddo, for example, that's growing inside of me.
I may not be able to leave them anything monetarily, but they will always have a set of skills, work ethic, perseverance.
Pati, voice-over: Also a threat are the many companies that profit from the Hatch name without actually growing chiles here or investing back into the community.
It's especially tough for a town known for serving others where there are as many military veterans as there are farmers.
There's a sense of serving.
That's something that I've seen a--a lot of, amongst many families, not just my own.
But a sense of--of serving not only our community, but our nation.
And there's so much more to--to it than meets the eye.
You know, I think so many of us take for granted, you know, what freedom is and the cost of it and it's more than a gentleman signing up four years of his life.
Pati, voice-over: The warm sunny days and cool breezy nights are said to be the secret to the spicy rich flavor, but I think the warmth of the families here have something to do with it, too.
Vamos completar 50 años juntos.
Me tienen que dar-- Me tienen que dar trucos para durar tanto en un matrimonio.
Yo llevo 25.
Pati, voice-over: Hatch chile is used for much more than enchiladas.
My last stop is Sparkys, in the center of town.
It's impossible to miss.
Pati: I want the world-famous green chile hamburger!
Pati, voice-over: Owners Teako Nunn and his wife Josie I'm told make a legendary green chile cheeseburger.
This place just stands out.
Tell me a little bit about everything that you have out here.
It started with A&W Root Beer Mama, she's on the roof.
OK, so you just keep on bringing things.
Like we had that Sparky robot made and Teako built the old west town.
Why is it so important to you to make people happy and to give them so many things to be entertained with?
It makes us happy.
Pati, voice-over: It started as a coffee shop in 2008, but their eclectic style and crazy good chile cheeseburger quickly got the town talking.
It was like 200 people, and then now it's like around the building.
And it's just beautiful to see all these people.
Pati, voice-over: Teako's father, a former restaurant owner, taught him the importance of making people feel special.
I hope I don't get sentimental, but it's mood.
Dad taught me mood.
And we want everybody to have a good time.
Pati, voice-over: It's definitely a good time.
It's kind of like if Andy Warhol opened a burger joint.
They were kind enough to open for me and my team on a day they're usually closed.
Pati: This feels like an amusement park!
Yeah, well, there's a lot of stuff in here that came-- like the Trapper, he's from an amusement park.
Pati: Oh, wow!
Man: The Trapper's wisdom for the ticket.
Why did you move to Hatch?
To get out of the city.
There were 1500 people here then.
And we've been here 42 years and there's still only 1500 people, it's... And you love that.
Everybody kind of knows everybody and they chip in when things are down, you know?
They help each other.
It's pretty cool.
So what's so unique about your green chile burger?
Or is it just that you, guys, make it and you're so endearing?
Josie: I think... [Laugh] I think it's the seasonings and everything.
And also our green chile cheeseburger doesn't have all the add-ons, like tomato, lettuce.
Nothing, just green chile and cheese.
So I wanna try a burger.
Teako: Let's--Let's go.
Pati, voice-over: Honestly, it's hard for me to imagine my burger without ketchup.
But they do things a little differently around here, in case you hadn't noticed.
Come, Tyler, come see the green chile.
It looks beautiful.
Teako: It's USDA choice, black Angus 80/20.
It's perfect for a burger.
And this is your secret seasoning?
Aren't you something?
Yeah, there you go.
Pati, voice-over: OK, now we're getting into the good stuff.
The 50-year-old secret family spice recipe passed down by Teako's father that gives these burgers an extra punch.
[Laughter] Yeah, yeah.
Pati, voice-over: Let's see if I can guess what's in it.
I didn't get it, I didn't guess anything.
You got half.
Pati: Oh, that is looking so beautiful.
OK, so now is when you do the green chile?
Yeah, now this is gonna be about four ounces.
All right, we're gonna just put that burger...
Hold on now, it's heavy.
And then we're gonna put the top on just like that.
This is the world-famous green chile cheeseburger from Teako.
He said not to say it, but he's making it for me.
[Laugh] OK. Good luck.
The meat is so tasty.
And the consistency is perfect.
And the green chile has so much flavor.
It's spicy, but like good, with a kick.
And the melted cheese on top is delicious.
Pati, voice-over: The burger is perfect, but I continue to be impressed by the full heart of the people of this town.
Yeah, I'm just grateful.
That's what motivates me.
Can I have some of your fries?
Thank you so much, Teako.
Pati, voice-over: For the town of Hatch to thrive, it relies heavily on Mexican workers with temporary visas to work in the fields.
About an hour south, in the town of Columbus, New Mexico it's the opposite.
Puerto Palomas, Mexico, relies on its sister city of Columbus to get their kids to school.
Monday through Friday, hundreds of kids wind their way through the Puerto Palomas border crossing, where they're greeted by U.S. school buses that bring them to school.
Diego is one of the Mexican border guards, who greets these kids every school day.
Pati: ¿Qué te dicen que sienten de ver a sus hijos que están yendo al otro lado todos los días?
Algunos lo que me han comentado es que se sienten orgullosos de que por lo menos los niños puedan tener la mejor vida que se-- que ofrece Estados Unidos ya que ellos por X o por Y no la pudieron tener.
Pati, voice-over: But it's not just a benefit for Mexico.
I think it's important to understand that every student that lives in Mexico that is a U.S. citizen comes here, gets an education, and eventually they move over to the United States.
Eventually, they become, uh, part of our economy.
[Bell rings] What are you dressed as?
Pati, voice-over: Viridiana Chacón is the principal of Columbus Elementary, a U.S. school where 75% of the kids live in Mexico.
Viridiana: The kids going to Palomas it's only about five miles away.
So super close.
Yes, yes, it's super close.
So it takes them about 10, 15 minutes to get there and to come back.
Pati, voice-over: It's not unique for kids to commute across borders, but this is the only place in the U.S. where a public school system sends buses to the border to pick up and drop off students.
How many years since when has this been happening?
Well, see, I grew up here, in Columbus.
And it was already in place.
And I would say more than maybe...
Since the 40s or so?
It's been quite a while.
Pati, voice-over: The school district used to accept all of the children who came over.
But that stopped when the law changed in the 90s.
You know, every kid that gets on that bus, that crosses the port of entry, is a U.S. citizen.
Pati, voice-over: Where can I find two parents to talk with about this?
Pati, voice-over: If you say "delicious restaurant," you know me too well.
Adriana Zizumbo owns Borderland Café, which is famous for these nachos topped with her signature white enchilada sauce made from fresh Mennonite cheese.
She lives in the U.S. and her daughter goes to Columbus Elementary.
Working at her side is Yvette Lira, a U.S. citizen living in Mexico.
You like living in Palomas more than?
I love, yeah, I love living in Palomas.
I think it's just way better.
You have, uh, more like a free life.
Like, it's more calm, more like you don't stress about a lot of stuff that you have to stress over here, in the United States.
So you guys live on different sides of the border, but your kids go to Columbus.
So your kids go to the same school.
And how is that experience?
I mean, I don't even think they notice it, you know?
They just go to school together and that's all they know, after school, they get on the bus and, you know, my daughter gets dropped off here at the restaurant.
Her kids get dropped off at the border.
And, you know, like a lot of parents, they're already waiting for them in--at the border.
And they all deserve that chance to come in an--and learn an-- and get the opportunity that, you know, our children here, in the States, get.
Pati, voice-over: While the students are U.S. citizens, some of their parents may not be, so they cannot visit the school, see the teachers, nor come to any after-school activities like this folkloric dance event.
[Music] Good job, girls.
[Applause] Pati, voice-over: Tonight is a feast to commemorate the Mexican Día de la Revolución.
Going back to school isn't so bad when this is the cafeteria food, enchiladas, crispy chicken taquitos, rice, beans, salsa guacamole, crema.
What about the food?
The food is delicious.
[Laughs] Pati, voice-over: Teacher Nicole Bearden's son and daughter go to this school as do the other two dancers at our table.
They're really nice, they help us learn and... Yeah?
Pati, voice-over: Twice a day everyone at this table crosses the border.
So you guys-- You all live in Palomas.
It just feels like we live out of town, you know?
You just have to take a little longer to get here.
Pati, voice-over: Nicole is from the U.S., but moved to Mexico with her husband and kids.
And I just--I like it lot.
I like it a lot better.
Uh, just you see somebody walk down the street, you say, "Good morning, how are you?"
Everybody smiles at each other.
They help each other out.
Pati, voice-over: And she's happy that her children are getting a fully bilingual education.
I can already tell in my kids' lives as children how much it has helped them.
So I can only imagine as an adult how--how much they'll achieve by knowing more than one language.
The kids that come over here were born in the United States.
They have every right to an education just like every other-- every other kid.
So for them providing that bussing for them, I know that it's essential for so many of the kids.
I--I see them piling onto the bus every morning here.
Pati: Any reaction of people not being happy with people coming from Mexico to get an education?
I believe this has been happening for so many years that--that people around here just see it as... a normal everyday occurrence.
Pati, voice-over: So look around.
Which kids will return to the U.S. when they grow up?
Vivian says most of these kids will return to find their careers.
Viridiana: Eventually they become productive members of our society, which is-- and--and what we want.
We come to learn.
Pati: You come to learn?
The teachers are really nice.
Pati, voice-over: Every border town like this has a unique relationship with the one on the other side, but here it feels alive and thriving in a way that deeply benefits each country.
But, more importantly, each kid.
[Applause] And while the Columbus school system is investing in the future, there's a community deep in the remote landscape of Northern Chihuahua that is very much focused on the past.
For the Mennonite community in El Sabinal, a century of seclusion preserves their principles and carries on their devoutly Christian culture.
[Speaking in German] Gender roles are based on Biblical teachings.
Men working in the fields.
Women cooking and cleaning.
[Singing in German] Where the native language of the people, low German, is as foreign as their fashion.
[Speaking in German] Oh!
Pati, voice-over: The Mennonite cheese is famous throughout Mexico and I've been eating it since I was little.
David Hiedert is the cheese maker in charge in the Sabinal.
One of many small colonies of Mennonites here, in Mexico.
¿Como cuánto queso hace todos los días?
Una tonelada-- Hasta una tonelada, 300, 400 kilos.
Pati, voice-over: The Mennonites, with Swiss-Germanic roots, began arriving in Canada in the 1700s, but eventually decided they needed less government intervention and more isolation.
They found what they were seeking in the 1920s, deep in the borderlands.
Platícame un poquito de--de la historia del queso menonita.
Viene de Canadá, porque aquí, en México, todo el tiempo así lo hicieron.
OK. Está dulcecito.
Un poquito chiclecito.
¿Y le pones sal cuando-- cuando ya entregan el requesón, le echan sal y lo secan?
Y lo ponemos en los moldes y lo prensan.
Pati, voice-over: After a few hours in the molds, the cottage cheese is transformed into the familiar Mennonite cheese.
Este ya está listo.
Uy, me toca un pedazo tan grande.
A ver, se lo cambio.
Uno corta lo que quiere.
Es pura leche.
Es pura leche.
Pati, voice-over: Jacob Harder is a local farmer here, who has been working with the cows since he was a child.
His 54 dairy cows supply milk for this community and others.
¿Este es un negocio que vende leche a la quesera?
¿O también es leche para tomar?
También para tomar.
Oye, qué técnica tienes.
Ya le haces rapidísimo.
[Laughter] Pati, voice-over: The majority of Mennonites here are conservative and technology, which they view as a tool for sin, comes slowly to El Sabinal.
It's embraced by some, but rejected by most.
Even causing families to split.
Jacob's parents chose to leave the colony for a more traditional community in Campeche, shunning things like television and cell phones.
Even rubber tires for their tractors.
Antes no había luz, ahorita metió luz, y las trocas y las llantas.
Y ellos querían mantenerse así, como vivían antes.
Pati: ¿Le decimos que apaguen...?
[Speaks in German] Pati, voice-over: This boy just jumped off a big truck and he's dropping off a paycheck.
¿Y mi cheque?
¿Y mi cheque?
[Laughter] Mucho gusto.
He's probably sitting... Seguro está sentado en las piernas del papá, ¿no?
Man: No, viene manejando él.
Pati: ¿Viene manejando él?
Pati, voice-over: The Mennonites came to the borderlands to live by their own rules.
Who needs a bike when you can have 400 horsepower?
Pati: ¿A qué edad les enseñan a manejar?
Desde chiquillos, porque, pues, tienen nueve años.
Oye, maneja muy bien.
Cuando crezcan, más bien, pues, los papás, de repente, bueno, pues, si la señora, la mamá o el papá no tienen la pierna y no... Van aprendiendo.
Ahí va, mira.
[Singing in German] Pati, voice-over: The learning continues in this one room Mennonite school house.
[Singing in German] Boys on one side of the room, girls on the other.
So do you--like everyone here speaks German, right?
And in your home and in church and everything is German.
Well, in church we--we use the high German language.
And in school?
Julius, wait, how do you say Julius in German?
By the end of our conversation, I'm gonna say it right, Yeltse.
Did I say it right?
Pati, voice-over: Julius or Yeltse was born in Mexico and would spend his winters here as a child.
In warmer months, his family would relocate to Alberta, Canada, where Julius was educated in the Canadian public school system.
So you have a big job in your hands because you have so many kids.
I have girls, 14, and boys, 14, too.
So almost 30 kids.
From what age to what age?
Five and six to 12.
[Laughter] Pati, voice-over: Julius didn't set out to be a teacher or a preacher.
They made me a preacher here, that's not my...
I can't say it.
That was not my choice.
People did it for... Well, probably, God did it for me.
That was not my-- my goal or something.
It was somebody else's.
What did you want to do?
What would be your--?
Like, what do you think you're good at or your calling?
Uh, my thing that I had in mind was, uh, songwriter, singing.
That was my--That was my dream.
And my specialty, but... Yeah?
I did have a chance, a little, but I passed.
My choice would be to make changes that are helping us to go forward, but they think it's not... not for us that we make changes.
We have to stay by the old...
The old, uh, teachings.
So you think electricity is fine because it helps you have an easier life.
Yes, that's right.
It helps us to do what's necessary.
What's your biggest hope for them for the future?
It's like the new generation, right?
I would hope for them that they-- that they hold on to faith, that was-- that's my--my only concern for them.
Really, because that's-- that's the only thing that gets us through life.
Pati, voice-over: A deep faith is at the core of this Mennonite colony.
And its traditions can be found not only in the school, but also in the kitchen.
Johan: Huevo, agua, leche, harina y sal.
OK. Pati, voice-over: In the home of Johan, his wife Ofelia and their daughters are turning simple ingredients into something beautifully robust.
[Speaking in German] Pati: Estas empanadas.
Platícame un poquito de la historia de las empanadas.
¿Son típicas de aquí, de la región?
¿Son típicas de aquí, de la--de la comunidad?
Sí, son de aquí.
Es comida lo que está haciéndose, es antiguo.
Pati: Van en el agua.
Son como dumplings.
I was expecting empanadas.
But these are like gigantic dumplings.
I've never seen empanadas being boiled in water before.
¿Y qué tiene la crema?
Pati, voice-over: And because Ofelia can't speak Spanish or English, I must wait for her husband to answer.
This cream--También tiene-- Le echan sabores.
Crema y... !¡Oh!
[Music] Pati: Una, dos.
Y le pongo... ¿Es crema?
¿Qué tiene la salsita?
Johan: Tiene--Es crema y "sabroseador".
Y así más cosillas tiene.
Pati: Pues, comunidades menonitas hay en todo el mundo, ¿no?
Pati, voice-over: Hans is the elected leader of this Mennonite colony.
Entonces, a ti te eligen de jefe de colonia, y si no quieres, ¿qué haces?
Tengo que, pues, sí... A mí me tocan seis años.
Ya cuando pasan seis años, ya votan por otro igual como yo.
Pati, voice-over: A colony celebrating its centennial, here, in Chihuahua.
You showed me this and it says, "100 years, Mennonites in Mexico, 1922-2022."
Pati, voice-over: Believers who live simply and follow faithfully.
Una, dos, tres.
Pati, voice-over: While the rest of the world races ahead.
Even in the most remote places, the borderlands are teaming with life.
But the life of a borderlander, a fronterizo, is one that straddles the liminal space between different worlds and flows with unprecedented possibilities.
If my travels have revealed anything, it's how little we understand the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
For me, my appetite to learn more only grows more insatiable each time I explore a new place in La Frontera.
[Music] Man: La Frontera with Pati Jinich is available on Amazon Prime Video.
To order "Treasures of the Mexican Table" cookbook, visit Shop PBS or call 1-800-play-pbs.
The journey to La Frontera continues at pbs.org/lafrontera, where you can watch exclusive interviews and video extras, get recipes, and more.