BONUS EPISODE: Bisbee, Arizona, USA

Welcome to a bonus episode of The English Sessions. This podcast episode suggestion came from my student, Anna, in Brazil. She wants to know more about where I live, Bisbee, Arizona, USA. So, today, I am going to tell you about all the great things in my area, and some bad things. Do you have any suggestions for episodes? Give me your suggestions by writing an email and sending it to, or, record a message on the podcast.

I am going to have the audio transcript, as well as many pictures for today’s episode, on the website. Today’s episode may be a bit difficult for learners who are not advanced learners. Make sure to go to the website. I will try to explain some words as we go along.

First, this is the perfect opportunity to tell all of you about my other podcast, Baja AZ. “Baja” means ‘low’ or ‘lower’ in Spanish, and AZ is short for Arizona. I live in Southern Arizona, and some people like to called it Baja Arizona. In this podcast, I interview creative people from Bisbee and creative people who visit Bisbee. The website for Baja AZ is at (SP)

Image of cover art for the Baja AZ podcast
Design by Bruno Sanches

Photo of Bisbee, Arizona, USA

To tell you the truth, I don’t live in Bisbee. I live near Bisbee, on a property in the Mule Mountains. Bisbee is also in the Mule Mountains. The Mule Mountains are a sky island. What is a sky island!?! “Mike, I thought islands are land that are surrounded by water!”. Yes, that’s true, and sky islands are isolated mountains surrounded by flat land. So, they are not part of a big system of mountains, like the Rocky Mountains, or the Alps, or the Andes. They are isolated. There are many sky islands in the American Southwest, which includes Arizona and New Mexico.

Photo of a sky island in the American Southwest
Sky Island

Carr Falls in the Huachuca Mountains

The sky islands have a very different environment compared to the flatter land below. It’s fascinating. So, in the flat land below you will find golden grasses, small trees and cactus plants. Then, you enter a sky island and everything changes. In the Huachuca Mountains, nearby to my west, you can find big ponderosa pine trees, aspen trees, and a lot of running water. It’s amazing! There are even waterfalls (img) and swampy areas! (img). My favorite tree in the sky islands is the alligator juniper. The bark of the tree looks like the skin of an alligator!

Huachuca Mountains

A picture I took in the Huachuca Mountains. You can see alligator junipers!

Alligator skin

Swampy Marshland in a valley of the Huachuca Mountains

In the past, Bisbee was a mining town. They mined many things from the mountains near Bisbee, but Bisbee is mainly known for copper mining. Copper is used for many things, including pipes, and saxophones because you need copper to make brass. Bisbee is also known for Bisbee Blue, which is a type of turquoise that comes from the copper mines near Bisbee. Turqoise is a type of mineral. In Spanish, it’s “turquesa”.Perhaps the word is similar in your language. It’s very beautiful. Bisbee Blue is also the name of a song about Bisbee, by one of my favorite bands, Calexico, from Tucson, Arizona. Go to the website to listen to the song.

Picture of a chunk of Bisbee Blue turquoise
Bisbee Blue Turquoise


Copper Pipes

Old Bisbee is very beautiful as well. Boy oh boy, you can find amazing examples of many different types of architecture. Some people say that Old Bisbee looks more European than American. It’s very rare to find a town like this in the American Southwest.” There are lots of different styles of architecture in Bisbee, including victorian, mission, craftsman, and art deco”. The doors of our courthouse are a really fine example of Art Deco. Go to the website to see a picture.

Art Deco Courthouse Doors in Bisbee

When you visit, you must go to the Kartchner Caverns. Caverns are like big caves. You can go deep underground and see things like stalagmites and stalactites. They look like icicles, but are deep underground in caverns and caves.

Stalagmites and Stalactites

Bisbee is very close to the Mexican border, so you can go across the border and visit the historic mining town of Cananea, in Sonora, Mexico, which also has beautiful architecture and a really interesting history. Cananea is also wine country. You can take a wine tour, and visit the vineyards near Cananea.

Cananea, Sonora, Mexico

This part of Arizona is known around the world as a birdwatcher’s paradise. It’s amazing how many types of birds I see here! Do you know what a crane is? Thousands of sandhill cranes migrate to Whitewater Draw. These amazing, giant birds can be seen en masse at Whitewater Draw, which is not too far from Bisbee:

Cranes at Whitewater Draw

There is so much Wild West history here, too! Did you know that the famous town of Tombstone, Arizona is just one town north of Bisbee? You can go visit Tombstone, and watch a recreation of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which was a famous shootout where Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp, and the famous Doc Holliday killed some outlaws. In my opinion, Bisbee is WAY more interesting than Tombstone, though.

A shootout recreation in Tombstone, Arizona

Bisbee is surrounded by desert. Often, it is pretty dry. But, believe it or not, there is a monsoon season here in the American Southwest. Perhaps when you think of monsoons, you think of Southeast Asia. Well, there is also a wet season here called the American Monsoons. Starting in July, and lasting into September, it rains a lot and everything becomes very green!

Wow wow wow! This is in Northern Arizona. So beautiful!

Of course, like any place, there are problems. As I said before, it is often very dry, and it can get very hot, even in the sky islands. This year, I recorded a temperature of 112 degrees F. That’s 44.4 degrees Celsius. That was not a fun day. It can be dangerous to be out in the desert during those hot days.

As many of you know, many people want to cross the border of Mexico into the United States illegally. They walk through this hot, dry desert. Can you imagine how difficult and scary that is? Many problems come from this, and many things need to change. Mainly, in my opinion, we need to see a lot more compassion. Many illegal immigrants die in the desert, and Border Patrol, which is the agency of the United States that patrols the border, is not very compassionate sometimes.

Border Patrol doesn’t like groups that want to help the illegal immigrants, and even destroys supplies that humanitarian groups leave for the immigrants, like containers of water, when they come across them in the desert. They are also putting many immigrants that they catch into detention centers, during this COVID19 pandemic. Why are these people being treated like criminals in prisons? I don’t think they deserve to catch COVID19 just because they wanted to come to the United States. Go to the website for a link to a website where you can donate money to help them at least a little bit:

One of those humanitarian aid groups is called No More Deaths, or No Más Muertes. I interviewed No Más Muertes on my other podcast, Baja AZ. Go to the website for the link. Just a warning though, there are many sad and shocking details in the interview, and also, there is no audio transcript: ( )

Also, the wall at the border that my current president wants so badly, not only wastes financial resources, but also causes many ecological problems. It disrupts migration of animals, for example. You can read more about it on the website. Remember, ‘ecology’ is about living things and their relationship with their environment. Can you imagine? The Berlin Wall in Germany, which we had the sense to tear down decades ago, was in a city. The border wall is not. Imagine the negative effects of a very high wall, trying to cover a border of almost 2,000 miles, or roughly 3,200 kms, that ignores the boundaries of protected lands for national parks, monuments and indigenous tribes of the Southwest.

Thank God for Bisbee, though. A progressive little town that wants to spread love, not hate. The word for today is compassion. Remember, “compassion” is the concern for OTHER people’s suffering. I’d love to hear from all of you. What do you think about some of the things we have seen during my current president’s reign (silent ‘g’) ? Does he seem to lack compassion? Does he deserve our compassion? Because, I can’t imagine a man like that is happy.

Let’s talk about it, email me at or leave a message on the website… . What’s your town like? I’d love to learn more about the town in which YOU live!

Any questions? Write to me at . Leave a message for me on the website, and I will play it on the podcast. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast so you won’t miss an episode. Visit for more content. Please rate and review The English Sessions on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Find us on social media. Twitter @theEsessions; Instagram @englishsessionswithmike; Search for The English Sessions on Facebook. Until next time, this is Mike signing off. 

Further reading:

Certain facets of the US government have too much power, too many resources, and too much control:

Huachuca Mountains:


Ecological Effects of the Border Wall:

Baja AZ podcast:

Baja AZ website:

Image sources:


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