The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Boquillas MX Crossing and East Big Bend

We planned to visit the eastern part of Big Bend and cross over to Boquillas, Mexico on our second day in the park. This tunnel is along the main road going east but it is tall enough for large RVs as the only campground with hookups is located in the eastern part of the park.

It is bigger than it looks.

We stopped at the overlook but didn't tarry long as the temperatures were already rising.

Great info on the native plants.

Here we are at the Boquillas Crossing. The hours and days that the crossing are open change with the seasons so you should definitely check if you plan to cross.

The crossing Port of Entry is manned by a Park Ranger.

The Ranger asks if you have your passport but doesn't want to look at it. You don't need it to leave the U.S. or enter Mexico but you will not be coming back into the U.S. if you don't have it. You are also told what you can and cannot bring back across the border.

When we arrived here, there was a couple of Americans with a huge suitcase, cases and cases of water and many other items. They said they were going for the weekend to visit family to whom they were bringing supplies. This is pretty common. Once you are through the gate, you have to walk about a block down the hill to get to the river.

It is very hot so you might need a rest here especially on your way back up the hill.

The Rio Grande River was very high and not real friendly looking.

This is the boat that takes you across the river. It costs $5 for round trip but tips are very welcome. it was not fun getting into the boat as the banks were very slippery with mud and the boat was bouncing around. One man rows the boat with about 6 passengers or passengers and goods across the river. He is not in his 20s or 30s by any means but he has lots of muscles. There are several other Mexican men there to hold the boat and help get it to the bank. They are very gracious about helping senior gringo women on board.

I had already told Carolyn that I was not going to ride a donkey. Between asthma, allergies, and hip pain, the nearest hospital is 110 miles away in the U.S.  I urged her not to miss this chance and I would get a truck ride and meet her in town.

She got a great guide who lined up a ride for me in a truck. Fortunately it was in the cab of the truck. Her guide spoke passable English while my driver did not. However, we were able to communicate as I speak just a bit of Spanish.

My husband and son have been across here twice in the last couple of years. They just paid for their donkey and followed the road into town. Now, each person or group has a guide who walks with you and the donkey. I think it is close to a mile into town. Calling it a road is being very generous.

As you get close to the village, you will see all kinds of embroidered items for sale. The men do the donkeys and trucks, the women do the items for sale. They are hand done but we found it interesting that every place with items for sale had the same kind of designs on the items.

Carolyn's guide left the donkey in front of his wife's "house" and came with Carolyn into town

I arrived much earlier and had already checked into the Mexican Entry where I paid my $2 entry fee and was told that Boquillas is a protected area similar to Big Bend. It is approximately 50 miles on a dirt road to another town. I sat in the shade and waited for Carolyn

There are a couple of restaurants in town.

It quickly became apparent that the "guide" stayed with his donkey riders while they were in town.

As we walked through town, various vendors invited us to look at their products. Children also approached us selling bracelets that they had made. I have to say no one was at all pushy including the children. A smile and no thank-you sent them on their way.

There are numerous buildings crumbling away. A lot of the "houses" on the way into town looked like this. The people don't live in them.....they just use them for selling items.

There is one bar in town. It was closed since we arrived in the morning but the guide told us that it is only for visitors not town residents.

Our guide took us into a little museum where there was a lot of information and history of the area both in Spanish and English. My Louisiana Cajun friend was busy chatting away with him. When he looked puzzled, I repeated some of what she said......just a bit of an accent problem we all laughed about.

These were homes. I sent Carolyn and the guide off for further exploration when I got too hot to take it. My plan was to walk back to the point where I met them while they went further into the part of the village. The guide showed Carolyn their "hospital" which had beds but no doctors or medicine. Sometimes a doctor came every few weeks.

As I walked back, an American woman came out of one of the buildings and asked if I didn't have a guide. I told her he was still showing my friend around and I was going to meet them. She and her husband come here every couple of months from an oilfield job about 4 hours away in the U.S. They have made friends in Boquillas that they stay with for the weekend. She brings things like aspirin, cough medicine, and over the counter medicines especially for the kids.

Carolyn saw this church in her further exploration.

This vendor didn't have a house along the tourist area so they improvised.

Carolyn's guide showed her the solar farm that provides electric to the town. Sometimes it is sporatic especially during the summer when it is very hot and everyone is trying to use a small air conditioner.

While I was sitting in the shade back at the beginning of the town, a big military truck pulled out from behind the building near the Entry building. It was loaded with four fully armed Federales with automatic guns standing in the back bed of the truck and three inside the cab. You will not see any pictures of them here......just not something you do. Every inch of their bodies were covered except for their eyes. They pulled out and went up the street. I was very worried that my camera crazy friend might not realize that she shouldn't take photos......and hoped her guide would clue her in very quickly. A short while later, the truck returned. One of the Federales got out of the cab and another one got out of the truck bed and posed with his gun at the ready in the middle of the road. The guy from the cab pulled out his phone and took a photo of the whole scene. Then they backed into the area across from and behind the building so they weren't visible. This must be something new as I know it wasn't going on when my husband and son were there. I asked the guide when they came back if there were some new problems with drugs but he claimed not.

A few minutes later a policia pickup truck came by. They were not covered so you couldn't identify them. One of the policia in the back was a woman and she gave me a hidden little smile and wave as they drove away.

This was taken on the balcony of Josefina's restaurant where we stopped for some cold drinks.

It was actually much cooler inside even though there was no A/C. Between fans, breezes, and shade it was quite comfortable.

We ordered some soft drinks but we really should have ordered water (the water is bottled) because the heat and soft drinks made us a little queasy.

Carolyn's very friendly guide.

The ride back across the Rio Grande was worse than going over.....more choppy and we were already a bit nervous as they suddenly had life jackets for everyone which they did not have on the trip over. I think the life jackets were well beyond their useful life but we put them on anyway. As we trudged back up the hill, we met four middle-aged Mexicans who had big containers of gasoline. Some of the containers were red. One was clear and the guy had a rag in the opening with a rock. He was hitting the rock with another rock to drive it further in so it wouldn't spill.

Apparently the older men have cards allowing them to cross into the U.S. where they get a ride to the gas station in the park to buy gasoline. This is how they are able to drive the trucks in the town. The younger men are no longer able to get those cards so easily.

Next stop was to check out Rio Grande Village and the two campgrounds.

Recognize these from Lajitas? Carolyn was thrilled to find them at the Park store.  Okay, I was too. After we checked out the parking lot style RV park with hookups and the campground style park with no hookups, we were on the road again.

Next stop........the Hot Springs.

The last time I was here with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids, we got out and walked several blocks because their little car would have bottomed out on the road. Now they have two new roads.

Not sure how great an improvement it was because there are signs about no dually trucks or RVs of any kind. That is because we had about 5 inches on each side of the truck as we went down the road. It was very challenging.

I wasn't up to the hike by this point but I had already seen the springs so I sent Carolyn off.

She hiked down to the river and even went further along the trail.

She talked to everyone along the way and no one could find the hot springs. I think that this may be the hot springs under water as the Rio Grande was up so high. Ordinarily, the hot springs come up inside the foundation of a building so there is a short wall around them.

So much for the Hot Springs........maybe next time.

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