Pope in Mexico: Families, tourists return to Juarez
Pope Francis is now past the halfway mark in his visit to Mexico.
He spent Monday with the indigenous people in the Southern state of Chiapas.
Tuesday, he heads to Morelia, Michoacan.
He wraps up his trip through Mexico in Juarez, Chihuahua on Wednesday.
Families in Juarez say it's a city that has taken a beating.
But it's now bouncing back.
"With the Pope's pending arrival, a lot has changed," said Alicia Ponce, as she rolled out flour tortillas at a restaurant along one avenue Pope Francis will travel.
"Even before he arrives, we're a happier city."
She says life in Juarez has been tough.
In 2010, more than 3,000 murders were recorded here.
Ponce says, "Before, we didn't even want to go outside. Now we find reasons to go out and celebrate our freedom."
And that's the consensus around town.
Even families who lost loved ones to the violence are happy to venture out again.
"It's now pretty here. We need people to believe, said Andres Parra.
Parra brought out his wife and daughter to Downtown Juarez to take a picture next to a cardboard cutout of the Pope.
Their smiles, a sharp contrast to their loss.
Their son was killed in the violence that hit Juarez.
"It's a blessing not just for the city, but for the people," says Irma Parra. "This is attention we welcome."
Out of towners who avoided the city are slowly coming back.
Carlos Aguilar came from Guadalajara to see the Pope.
He arrived a few days early, to take in the sights.
"It looks like things have improved. But then again many Mexican cities have violence. Even the US has violence," he said, just feet away from where Ponce rolled out another dozen flour tortillas from scratch.
Ponce wanted to join others, lining the streets to catch a glimpse of the Pope on Wednesday.
Instead, she'll settle for a view out of the burrito shop's window.
"We'll be working, but Lord-willing, we'll see him," she says.