I somehow doubt that I'm going to get around to writing a city guide for Brownsville, so I'll say here that if you happen to find yourself in this sprawling border city, the best of the chain hotels is the Hampton Inn. They gave me a Diet Coke and a Bud Light and a cookie as soon as I walked in, and they carry the Brownsville Herald rather than the USA Today. Its parking lot adjoins a Gold's Gym franchise (also brand new, with lots of classes for the road-weary road warrior) and there's a good little bistro a few parking lots over, Gazpachos. The whole compound is just about a mile and a half from Cameron Park, which is one of America's largest colonias, though no longer its poorest--there, too, the growth of the city is unmistakable.

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