Sunday, 2 March 2014

An Interesting Tale about a Wondrous Place in the Middle of Nowhere


This is another submission from our allies in the outpost at the ranch in "Extreme Central Texas".   It speaks to a bit of lore that is known to Real Live Texans,  and while what is written might sound like a "midsummer's night's dream", the OROG needs to be aware that it is simply so much innocent accuracy.
Demasiado and Gringo Viejo,
      Here is a border porosity story less than three days old.  Among other things, it will establish that the “Law of Unintended Consequences” is alive and well.  Five years ago Princess Better Half and I tried to visit the Big Bend National Park but the Rio Grande had flooded during the drought and we were not allowed to drive south of Marfa, the scene of another funny story during an election year that I am not sure I should mention on here without more deliberation.  In an event, we are driving around the least visited and a very spectacular park when we come to Boquillas Crossing, the end of the road.  There is nothing there and you have to want to be here BAD to even find this place.  Where is Boquillas, you might ask?  Well Boquillas is 60 miles southeast of Terlingua, Texas, a thriving hippie hideout.  There is no significant town in either direction, up river of down river, closer than 150 miles, in Mexico or in the U.S.  We could not see the river from the U.S. Customs and Immigration point, so I asked how this crossing works?  It was then revealed me that you walk through the bushes, walk down the river bank a 100 feet and then wave and whistle.  This was too good to miss! 
      We had not intended to cross the border and Princess Better Half did not have her passport, but I happened to have mine; so while she read a book about half breed black and Seminole scouts used by the Army on the border; I proceeded down to the Rio Grande, waving and whistling.  Soon a boat appears and we agree that $5, will suffice for a round trip rowboat cruise.  On the Mexican side there were more tourist selections….would I rather ride a burro, a horse or a pickup truck for ¾ mile to the town of Boquillas, cost $5 per round trip, “out of kindness, I suppose.”  I selected a burro and was assigned Estoban Diaz Onates as mule skinner and town guide.  I ask Estoban about the population of Boquillas and learn there are now 39 families with five new houses, but no electric wires to most of them.  
      It seems that Boquillas was a prosperous mining town for silver and lead around 1900.  Later, in 1944, according to Estoban, the acquisition of the national park by the U.S. government caused problems with the transportation of ore through the park on park roads, etc.  Apparently, after the mining departed, tourism flourished with a few gringo tourists visiting each day.  We walked around town while I bought scorpions, ocotillo plants made from wire and beads, a walking stick and a woven bracelet.  It made them feel good and made me feel even better, all for $30.  See photo of me and Parda, the burro, with used Ford pickup in hot pursuit.
      Now the Law of Unintended Consequences.  Soon after 9/11/2001, the border crossing at Boquillas was closed.  So all the people were without work, but the men merely walked across the river and got jobs in the U.S., illegally of course.  A year ago, the Boquillas crossing point reopened and now with the economic downturn in the U.S., most of the men have returned home to the new tourist business again.  That is why there are five new houses in Boquillas and boys and girls, that is the end of today’s lesson in international market economics.
      An hour later, after returning to the U.S. side; my wife, Princess Better Half and I were hiking up Boquillas Canyon and saw several of the same trinkets for sale with coffee cans to deposit the money on the honor system, no people around.  Suddenly, we look down stream and here comes one of the young men on a horse, splashing across the river, out of sight of the border crossing and up the steep hiking trail, complete with horse poop, to check the cans for money.
Outpost Commander
Extreme Central Texas


       During the 1960s, El Gringo Viejo had the good fortune to have arrived in Boquillas, Chihuahua while working for the Institute of Texian Cultures.  We had the occasion to cross over and visit the humble place that was fairly vibrant in spite of its isolation.  In those days Old Timers would take their mules and donkeys and a couple of saddle mounts into the mountains in search of gold seams, sometimes with success.
     The father of El Gringo Viejo was briefly stationed in the Fort Leaton, Terlingua, and Fort Lajitas (quite near the mouth of the Boquillas Canyon area and the little village across the Rio Grande) area during the 1929 - 1933 period of his service with the Ist Cavalry (mounted) Division, 12th Regiment, Headquarters Squadron, during a time when that part of Mexico across the Rio Grande was "outside the national territorial control" of the Republic of Mexico.  It was thought that it was an ideal place for anarchists and "community organisers" of the period...especially from the Soviet Union and certain European countries could easily move into and out of the United States.
     Try this link, for some peripherally relevant information.

El Gringo Viejo