“Sonora ramps up tourism pitch” (Page A5, Jan. 27) sounded hopeful but the under headline, “U.S. travel warnings still affect perception,” is sad but true. Although warnings are important to consider, it sometimes works as a gate to keep us out.

In December, my husband and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta for the 17th year. Yet we are continually asked if we think it’s safe in Mexico. We’re told they would never consider such a destination. I have a standard answer: We don’t do drugs, stay out too late or drink too much. We had the same protocol in Seattle and now in our border city between Minnesota, North Dakota and Canada.

“Besides,” I add as a kicker, “in Washington, our house was broken into twice.”

Surprisingly, we get the same question and concerns from friends in Phoenix about us being in Green Valley, so close to the border. It’s frustrating.

In Puerto Vallarta, we enjoy the friendliness of wait staff and we love going back to see the same people working in our favorite places. They work hard to bring a smile to your face and be helpful. Cab drivers try to teach us Spanish and merchants wave us into their shops saying “Almost free!”

Puerto Vallarta has the highest number of expats from the U.S. and from other countries. Chefs are from all over the world and the food is varied and fantastically tasty. What’s not to love?

Green Valley is awash in things to do including the OLLI classes. Last year, we took one that included a day’s trip in Nogales, Sonora, through the Border Community Alliance headquartered in Tubac. I’ve seen letters to the editor from others who have taken this great tour, but it bears repeating. BCA works with a sister organization in Nogales to promote a stronger tie between communities.

The tour is in a van so we didn’t have to drive, do much walking or get lost. We saw non-profit businesses, manufacturing, and 10,000 new homes being built. We ended at La Roca Restaurant. Their flan was unbelievably beautiful and delicious and the service extraordinary. We plan to return this year as it’s within a short walking distance from the border.

Oh, and since our tour was during a spring break, a mother and her two sons joined us from Tucson. We were impressed that she wanted her children to see a side of Nogales that few see. To learn more, call 520-398-3229 or check www.bordercommunityalliance.com. You’ll be as impressed by your Nogales tour as we were.

The seniors in this community are awesome. They are lifelong learners and as such, enjoy going to classes, book clubs and taking tours. They are in great shape from their walks and sports. What’s also impressive is that the Green Valley snow-birds and retirees bring their talents and expertise, roll up their sleeves and volunteer to make this community even better. Neighbors are friendly and inclusive. What’s not to love?

We need to consider the people on the other side of the border to be our neighbors, too. Let’s help them be successful and we will benefit as well.

Treasure Omdahl lives in Green Valley.