Friday, January 3, 2014

Things I Read Today

Today I had the great time of crossing the Rio Grande legally to visit the small Mexican village of Boquillas del Carmen. My bilingual guide Joaquin toured me around and answered all my questions about his adopted hometown. He was raised mostly outside Dallas, but had some trouble with DWIs as a young man and was required to give up his residency.

In the cool but sunny day, I spent most of my time on the restaurant patio listening to a man play guitar in the plaza. He was in a wheelchair, but got up from time to time to remove layers in the warming day. Because I ate the proprietor's tacos and bought a few of his daughter's wares, he gave me a free magazine, in Spanish and English, about their region of Mexico. Here are the highlights:

In an article whose English title reads, "Coahuila's Most Outstanding Cockfighter": "'And how exactly did you know the cock was gonna race out of the ring? which Mr. Jesus Montemayor replied softly and without any presumptuousness, 'I looked right into his eyes.'"

In an article about the Salazar Confectionery:
"How Milk Candy is Made
1. Milk and white sugar is mixed in a special copper bowl.
2. Mix is strained to avoid the tiniest pollution.
3. Milk and sugar are burnt, then lay to rest."

And here is my place of respite, looking out the back patio at the Rio Grande and the Chisos Mountains in the background and looking out the front patio with the Sierra del Carmen in the background.

Once the boatman rowed me over from the immigration station on the American side (within Big Bend National Park), I had the option to walk up the hill to town, ride in a pick-up truck, or ride this horse. No brainer for me. $8 round trip on the horse and Joaquin walked next to me and told me stories. Not a long walk at all, but one feels encouraged to spend money here. The town has absolutely come back to life since the border crossing re-opened earlier this year after being shuttered since not long after the attacks of September 11, 2001. New security measures have been put in place that makes this possible. And Joaquin says the Mexican government has sent the townspeople new colorful paint for their houses and is investing in new subsidized housing for residents as well as road improvements to foster tourism. It is the town's only income. Today I saw only perhaps ten other gringo tourists. Yesterday, Joaquin said, they had about 70--a busy day for them.
P.S. East coast friends and family, that blue coloration in the upper third of the picture is this sky thing we talk about.
And yes, I've resolved to blog more frequently this year.


Scott Walker said...

Glad they opened that crossing. When I started going out to BIBE in the early '80s we used to cross there "informally." The Mexicans could cross to the US too with no hassles. Of course, that all came to a grinding halt on 9-11. I want to now get back up in the Dead Horse Mountains "behind" Boquillas to explore.

Gretel said...

Scott--I've heard of those days from coworkers who worked in the park back in the day. Still a great experience, and the mountains await you with their infinite patience and good tidings.