Boquillas

The last 24 miles to Boquillas is a very rocky road. Rocks are embedded in the road, making for a very bumpy ride. It reminds me of the road to the top of Mt. Potosi (for those of you familiar with that road), though not quite as bad. It was getting late, I was tired, and my hands were worn out from the pounding they had taken today so the road seemed worse than it really was. The next morning, after a night of restful sleep, we back tracked this same road and it didn’t seem nearly as rough.

We arrived in Boquillas a few minutes before 5 pm. For those not familiar with this area, Boquillas is a small town named after Boquillas Canyon, which is the south eastern edge of Big Bend National Park. The town’s primary reason to exist seems to be to give visitors to Big Bend an opportunity to cross into Mexico and visit a small village. A little taste of Mexico. There has been an unofficial border crossing here (and one in Lajitas, 50 miles or so to the west) since forever and it has never been a problem. But after 9/11 the Feds decided the crossing was a bad idea and cracked down. Some nameless bureaucrat far away in Washington decided terrorist might use these crossings as a route to sneak themselves and weapons of mass destruction into the USA. No more crossing on pain of imprisonment (Political rant: anyone who has visited this area will immediately recognize what a ridiculous statement that is. This area is so rugged, inhospitable, and far away from everything else that it is the worst choice for smuggling people or large quantities of anything. That’s why the drug war has been a non-issue here. Luckily someone at the Fed level finally listened to reason and the Boquillas crossing is now re-opened, albeit as an official crossing rather than an unofficial one. The Lajitas crossing, on the other hand, remains closed.)

When the border crossing closed, Boquillas was left without a source of income and nearly died. Its population dropped from several hundred to around 20 (Lajitas suffered the same fate). Today, about a year and a half after the re-opening, Boquillas once again has a population of about 200 people. 90% of their income comes from the steady flow of tourists crossing over from Big Bend National Park.

Except for the day JT and I arrived. And the next day. We arrived in Boquillas on a Monday and noticed that everything was closed. A local named Raul informed me that the border crossing is closed every Monday and Tuesday, and when the border crossing is closed, everything in town is closed too. There isn’t a reason to open the bar or either of the two restaurants in town when there aren’t any patrons.

Raul lives in Boquillas with his wife and child and earns his living acting as a guide and interpreter. I asked him about gas and a room and was assured both were available. He told us his uncle rents rooms and if we didn’t mind waiting for a few minutes he would go find his uncle and arrange rooms for us for the evening. As promised, a few minutes later Raul’s uncle showed up and we followed him to his “hotel”.

The place looked nice on the outside but was more of a bunkhouse than a hotel. JT and I paid $25 each for two beds, electricity, and a toilet. Unfortunately, the shower didn’t work and there wasn’t a sink. Still, I was completely fine with this place – I preferred it to sleeping outside on the ground.

I jumped in the truck with the Uncle and we rode around town trying to find cerveza. Unfortunately, nothing was open, not even for the locals, so no beer for JT and I. We both had food with us –beef jerky, trail mix, crackers, and canned chicken – which would see us through the evening but I was disappointed not to be able to have a cold beer after a long, fun of riding.

As we settled into our quarters, the last rays of the sun lit the evening sky.

The uncle told us there was a hot springs down by the river and we could wash up. After unloading the bikes we wandered down to have a look. The “hot springs” was a pipe sticking out of the side of a hill out with a small stream of hot water constantly flowing. The pipe was only a foot or so above the ground so the best we would have been able to do was take a splash bath – i.e. use cupped hands to splash water on ourselves in a vain attempt to get clean. We both declined, knowing it would just be a futile effort. (There is another, more common name for this type of bath but this is a family forum and Tourmeister wouldn’t be happy if I used that term. :trust:)

With nothing else to do, we walked back to our room in the darkness and then sat outside in the cool evening air, star gazing and eating supper. As mentioned earlier, it was Dia de la Revolucion and Boquillas was celebrating with an evening dance. A band playing on the other side of town serenaded us as we sat outside our room, munching on our food. We thought briefly about walking over to the festivities but decided against it. We didn’t know anyone it town, hadn’t been invited, and we were both pretty tired from the day’s riding. At 8 pm we called it a night and went to bed. I’m an old guy so I wake up early, even when I don’t want to. So I figured I would wake up at 0 dark thirty the next morning and end up sitting around for a few hours, waiting for the sun to come up. But, apparently I was more tired than I though and slept soundly for 10 hours. Which is a really long time to sleep. I can’t remember the last time I slept for 10 straight hours.