It wasn't easy getting here, but it was well worth it!
Americans and Mexicans have crossed the Rio Grande in this area of Big Bend National Park for decades. The Texas communities near Big Bend have had a good relationship with the tiny village of Boquillas, across the river in Mexico. But after 9/11, the border was firmly closed.
Since April of 2013, tourists with passports have been allowed to cross the Rio Grande in Big Bend into Mexico by checking in at the new Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry Station. In February, my husband and I had a chance to try out the new crossing. We arrived early morning and chatted with rangers before heading down to the river. It was a beautiful morning and we could hear a couple voices from across the river, "Welcome to Mexico!" Then we heard the voice of Victor, who is the official singing greeter for Boquillas.
Carmello rowed us across the river. We could have waded, but this was all part of the experience. We also wanted to support the community with our 5 dollar tickets.
Yes to Burros!
I was excited that Don was game for the burro experience. It was only 3/4 mile to the village, but he's not a big fan of horsebackriding. Of course these weren't exactly horses. In fact I felt a little silly on mine, but it was fun! Joel followed along, since the burros are a little out of practice. Many were set free when the border was closed and tourists were no longer coming across.
We hadn't asked for a guide, but after tying up the burros and checking in with passports at the visitor center, Joel stayed with us as we wandered the village. This was actually great because we were the first tourists that day and we wouldn't have known where to go. Joel pointed out the school, and the original bar of Boquillas. He took us inside the little yellow church and he greeted the only village doctor in front of an adobe hospital. Joel told us about 180 people were now living in the village, with only one landline phone and no electricity. He pointed out a few solar panels and satellite dishes. He pointed to the building that held the only phone in town. He told us there was no electricity, only solar power
Joel introduced us to some of the locals. Many were selling crafts, from bedspreads to walking sticks. We bought bracelets and wire animals from the children who approached and we bought a patchwork quilt from one family.
We brought along a silly collection of monkey socks from the US and these became handy gifts now and then. Some of the children were eager to pick out a pair. Even some not so little kids liked the socks.
The little town with its dusty main street never got more than a handful of American guests. But after wandering for an hour through the unshaded area, it seemed like all the visitors ended up in the same place.
It was time for a little food and Cerveza at Jose Falcon's. Don and I had a couple beers and visited with a few other travelers from Connecticut, Michigan and Colorado. Sitting on the shady terrace overlooking the spectacular Mexican mountain range, was the absolute highlight of our village visit.
When in Boquillas...
The other diners on the terrace were pretty much like Don and me...in other words, not a Spring Break crowd! So it was a little funny that we all decided it was important to sample the tequilas to complete our experience. "Only one!" Don and I agreed. "We have to be able to ride our burros back!"
And here is the food that inspired a dining blog entry. Obviously the food was just a tiny part of the whole experience. But our simple and authentic beef tacos and chicken enchiladas were mouth watering. You will notice there is a small bear near the tacos. He has his own blog and that's another story.
Soon after lunch, we headed back on our burros for the river. There had been no charge for our "tour" with Joel, but we handed him a gracious tip. Even though he struggled with his English, he made us feel comfortable and welcome. Victor the singing greeter, got a tip as well. We so hope the Village of Boquillas continues to get generous tourists, to keep this tiny village alive. If only the border between Mexico and the US could be like this everywhere!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.