I parked my truck and headed up the low mountain path to begin what I later would call a great day at Big Bend. To the left you can see the Rio Grande River snaking its way toward Boquillas Canyon.
Standing on the US side of the Rio I can see the small town of "Boquillas ". Prior to 9/11, one could cross the river anytime to drink at Falcon's bar or have a great Mexican dinner in Boquillas. Farther upstream, at the town of Santa Elena, Mexico, cowboys and Park Rangers would cross over to Santa Elena for a meal. Looking across the river at the town of Boquillas, I am reminded of a tale I was told of two cowboys who went across the border at Santa Elena to find a good meal some years ago. They paid an old Mexican man to ferry them across the Rio Grande in his small boat, and then traveled a short ways up the only road in town to a small adobe house. A knock on the door, and they were seated in the dark "living" room of that little humble home. In the kitchen, the senora of the house prepared a meal as good as any you can get in San Antonio. As the men ate, the front door swung wide open and in walked the man of the house, dusty from head to boot from his hard days work in a nearby mine, he greeted them with a simple "Ola" and went to the kitchen for a meal of his own. As they left the little adobe home, and back out onto the street and the fading light of day, the first sight they saw, were two caballeros ahorseback, coming down the street with six shooters on their hips. A scene straight out of a Clint Eastwood movie. A tip of the hat, and a quick walk back down to the river to be rowed back across. Once back on the US side, One of the Americans said to the other "That was a bit scary" and the other replied, as he opened his day pack "Naw...I was armed too". That was how it was done several years back on the border in this remote land. After several years of the border being closed completely, you now can venture across the border at Boquillas, for food and fun, as long as you have your passport handy.
As I walked farther towards the mouth of the canyon, I found these holes in a rock outcropping high above river. Turns out they are called "metates" The ancient people of the area would grind grains on the rock by hand with another stone in preparation of their dinner, and over time these holes were worn into the stone.
Not far from the there I stumbled across these brass disc monuments, "Triangulation Stations" drilled into rock along the river. Remnants of the International Boundary Survey completed along the Rio Grande River by the US government.
Just at the mouth of Boquillas Canyon, I was greeted by this sign listing the trinkets I could purchase for a small fee from some of the Mexican artisans across the Rio Grande. I chose a whimsical black and white beaded rooster and a Ocotillo plant, with red beads on the top that portrayed the fiery red flowers of an ocotillo in full bloom. I put my money in the tin can, and wondered how they would get their money...my answer came not long after I continued on my hike.
After making my purchase, I continued my hike along the banks of beautiful Rio Grande river. It was a very quiet except for the wind rustling through the Georgia Cane that line the banks along the rivers edge. Then I faintly heard what I thought was a song being sung in Spanish, wafting up and out of the canyon as I hiked. It wasn't sure of what I heard. Louder and crisper, this time I heard it quite clearly and walked just a bit farther to catch a glimpse of a lone "trovador" across the river singing beautifully in his native tongue. The canyon walls carried his rich voice up high and out of the Rio's canyon. Can you see him lower center?
As I worked my way down to him here are a few images along the way.....
The crooner saw me at about the same time I saw him. We visited for a spell, in broken English/Spanish. He was pleasant and kind and asked me if I had a request for him to sing. I asked for "El Rancho Grande" and sure enough he sang it beautifully and then mentioned that he had a can there behind me on the ground where I could tip him for his music. So I obliged him happily. In what felt like the middle of no where, I couldn't believe I would be serenaded in Spanish as I photographed the gorgeous scenery about me. It was a wonderful day. He continued to sing as I took these images.
On my way out of the canyon I saw some caballeros on horse back crossing the river to collect the day's earnings and replenish the wares for the next round of tourists to visit the canyon.
I traveled to a few more destinations within the park and was pleasantly surprised at all the visual offerings Big Bend showed me. Be sure to make Big Bend National park a destination in your future, plan to spend a few nights in the park as it is hard to see all in a day or two. The Park covers close to 1 million acres making it easy to be alone most of the time. You can stay at the Basin, rent a room, have a meal and go to the gift shop. The rest of the park is wild and magnificent.
These are some of my favorite plants. The Sotol spire can grow up to twenty feet. The root of the Sotol plant can be made into a liquor similar to tequila. Look for it at Twin Liquors.....Yum!
Hope you enjoyed... I'll see you on the trail!!!!!
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