Tuesday: January 26th

In March of 2005 when I first visited the Big Bend area I strolled around Boquillas Canyon and took a dip in the delightful hot spring which is directly adjacent to the Rio Grand River. I wanted Betsy to see and enjoy both of these cool places. But, we were losing daylight and we had no time to waste.

After departing from the Lost Mine trail head we hastily made our way back up to Basin Junction and then drove east passing Panther Junction, Park HQ, through the short but beautiful cut stone tunnel and then on to Boquillas Canyon.

For decades the people of Boquillas bel Carmen, Mexico just up stream from the canyon and adjacent to Rio Grande Village (formerly Boquillas) depended on the tourism trade at Big Bend to eke out a living. There had always been unfettered crossing of the river boder from both sides.

Boquillas ... a small (300 resident) town that was primarily dependent on the Big Bend tourist trade, with visitors crossing the Rio Grande to visit the village's bar, restaurant, and taco stands. Children posted adjacent to the village's mission sold rocks collected in the desert or from nearby caves. Tourism options included pony and donkey rentals, parties at Park Bar and overnight stays at a local bed and breakfast, The Buzzard's Roost.

That all changed after September 11, 2001.

The events of September 11, 2001 destroyed Boquillas bel Carmen's traditional way of life. In May 2002 the border crossing from Big Bend National Park to Boquillas was closed indefinitely. As of October 2006, only 19 families, totaling about 90-100 residents, remained in Boquillas. Most of the town's residents had been forced to move away by the closure of the tourist crossing and destruction of the town's traditional economy. ~ WikiPedia

Fortunately, with the passage of time, saner minds have prevailed and have come to realize a Jihadist invasion at the Boquillas crossing is not likely. Now, nearly 10 years later the border will be officially reopened.

But, it may be too little - too late to resurrect the town of Boquillas bel Carmen

And it's not clear what Boquillas has to offer tourists. The town is far from the idyllic setting described in Robert Earl Keen's 1994 song “Gringo Honeymoon.” The Buzzard's Roost bed-and-breakfast has closed, its owner moved away, and the town's population has plummeted.
Boquillas resident Sylvestre Sanchez waded across the Rio Grande on Thursday morning with a load of walking sticks and figurines made of twisted copper wire to hawk to tourists for $6 apiece.
When Landy Johnston of Huntsville purchased a walking stick as a birthday gift for his wife, Carol, Sanchez said it was the first one he'd sold in three months. He usually leaves his wares on the riverbank with a sign and cup, then crosses back into Mexico, relying on the honor system. © mysanantonio.com: 2011 Hearst Communications Inc.

So, only time will tell if the planned crossing point and all the facilities, services and support the NPS will provide will indeed be just more money down the drain or it will actually do some good.
In the meantime, the citizens of Boquillas bel Carmen must still cross illegally to sell trinkets to the tourists who then purchase them illegally.

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

  Click for larger image

When we got to the parking area there were only 3 other cars there. We used the facilities and then climbed the first set of steps up to the trail. And there, just like in 2005 was a little make shift display of craft items for sale.
The cardboard sign states all proceeds from sales will be used to help the school children of Boquillas bel Carmen.

  Click for larger image

Back in 2005 I bought a walking stick for Joe. On this trip Betsy bought one of these Road Runner wire sculptures to take home.

  Click for larger image

Personally, I preferred the scorpions but decided against it.

  Click for larger image

These lovely views look to the west towards the towns of Boquillas del Carmen and Big Bend Village.

  Click for larger image   Click for larger image

When we arrived at the bluff overlooking the river and canyon this one lone rider was heading back across the border and home to Boquillas del Carmen.

  Click for larger image

Although difficult to distinguish the entrance to the canyon is on the far left of this photo.

  The Rio Grande River through Boquillas Canyon 2010 Canuck In Texas

             Photo: © Canuck In Texas

Above is a photo of the Boquillas Canyon from " Canuck In Texas: A Canadian Perspective...".
I highly recommend this interesting and informative travelogue that I was lucky enough to stumble upon.


On our walk back to the van we met the Mother-Daughter Team Denise and Catherine. They were on their own epic road trip: driving a circuitous route from Pasadena, CA to North Carolina. They have chronicled this fun trip with lots of photos and commentary at: http://phdmeanscatonc.blogspot.com/
Check it out!
They got all excited when we told them we were from West Virginia as they were keeping track of the number of different state plates they saw. Glad to oblige!

  Click for larger image

On our way back up the road I parked the van and got out to snap some photos of the tunnel and gorgeous mountains.

  Click for larger image   Click for larger image

I wondered if this was more excellent work of the CCC.

  Click for larger image

As I was wandering back and forth along the road way I was thrilled to see this plant when I looked up: Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica). It is the one in the foreground which looks like a bunch of green soda straws. The plant is rare and protected in the U.S., but more common in Mexico.
However, in Mexico, the Candelilla stems are harvested in great numbers to extract a wax which is used in cosmetics and polishing agents amongst other things. If the plant is over harvested it has a good chance of becoming a rarity in Mexico as well.

  Click for larger image

This was the last shot I took in the Boquillas Canyon area which shows a nice medley of desert plants: Sotol, Candelilla, Ocotillo, Creosote bush and Beavertail Cactus.

Now, it was off like a rocket to get to our next and final stop for the day.


Next installment: Day 2 Part 3: Big Bend hot Springs.
'Till then... Adios!
~ Mike and Betsy