On Location With Mariana van Zeller: US-Mexico

Journalist and Breaking Borders host Mariana van Zeller shares her personal photos from and her take on the “Dying for the American Dream” episode along the US-Mexico border.
By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Photo By: Mariana van Zeller

Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Michael (Voltaggio) is obsessed with classic American cars. In fact, he owns this exact same model — a Chevy 1955 Bel Air. He wanted to drive it down to Arizona, but since we had to make sure he actually arrived in time for the shoot, we decided to rent one instead. Our first stop was a truck that sells the famous Sonoran hot dogs, which Michael insisted we eat several feet away from the car so as not to get it dirty.  That whole morning, I felt like we'd been transported 60 years back in time!

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

I've been reporting on border and immigration issues for years, but this was the first time I got to see the $2 billion border fence from above. Border Patrol says it's been effective in preventing the movement of illegal goods and people from Mexico into the US, but opponents call it a boondoggle. They say that all it does is drive immigrants to more dangerous (fenceless) terrain, which means more deaths along the border for those pursuing a better life for themselves and their families.

649-Mile Fence

The brown line you see is part of the 649-mile fence. Since it's not a continuous fence, it covers less than a third of the 1,954-mile US-Mexican border.  

The Border From Above

Flying over the US-Mexican border on a 4-seat Cessna. I look calm and collected, but this is where I learned that having a chef as the co-pilot is never a good idea. You can't be good at everything, Voltaggio!

View From the Other Side

This photo was taken in Nogales, AZ. On the other side of the 18-foot fence is Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico. I've been here on reporting trips before, but the sheer size of the fence never ceases to surprise me.    

'Breaking Bad'?

It ain't Breaking Bad; it's Breaking Borders. Oh, and it airs every Sunday at 9|8c on Travel Channel.

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael is excited to try authentic Mexican food in Nogales, Sonora. Or perhaps it's because a 70-year-old Mexican lady just said, "Qué gringo más guapo!" (“What a handsome gringo!”)  

Bottoms Up!

Yes, they were all for me — 10 shots of pure gold. What happens in the field stays in the field.

Mountain Minutemen

In Arizona, we spent a few hours one night with members of the Mountain Minutemen, a group of armed men and women who camp out in the desert, hunting for illegal border crossers. This man asked us not to show his face or reveal his identity, but the leader of the group, Robert Crooks, was one of our dinner guests on the episode.