Ghost Town - Boquillas
Boquillas and Boquillas Del CarmenA
FLATBOAT NAMED ENCHILADA
Crossing the Rio Grande at BoquillasShortly
after this article was written, the crossing was closed and the current status
is unknown. Calls to the National Park were not returned, so visitors should be
warned that the area is often used for drug smuggling. - Editor, February 2006
by John Troesser
river at rest
Springs, the crossing, burro ride, and BoquillasWe've
read about the crossing at Boquillas for years. How you travel two miles up a
mountain and there's nothing but a cantina at the top. Something about mules and
boats - it was all pretty vague and uninviting. Until you get there. There's something
very Steinbeckesque about it. Cannery Rowish or Tortilla Flatish. Of course, if
Steinbeck had written about it, it would now be a theme park. A park with Red
Ponies and George and Lenny with rabbits frolicking in huge oversized heads.
Rather than just present
the facts, we decided that for our readers, we'd brave the currents and fill in
the detail the other guides have left out.
We're here to tell you that
for adventurous types, it's a pretty dull trip. For un-adventurous types it's
still pretty dull. The hand-pulled ferry at
Los Ebanos is
more interesting from a technical / mechanical point of view, but Boquillas has
more color, a nicer view and besides, Los Ebanos is about 400 miles down river.
Spring and bathhouse ruins|
the way to Boquillas, if time permits, you should take the time to visit the Hot
Spring (follow the signs). It's worth the drive and the walk is easy and enjoyable
even in mid-summer.
We were told the bathhouse over the springs was
blown up by the former owner when the National Park acquirred ownership. Others
say it was destroyed by a flood in 1938. The complete story is told in the highly
recommended book: Taking
the Waters in Texas by Janet Mace Valenza, University of Texas
on the way to Hot Springs|
boat ride across the Rio GrandeThe
signage in the park is adequate to get you to the parking lot at the crossing
at Boquillas. When you reach the lot and you don't see someone immediately, just
start down the path to the river toward the screams. Just kidding!
and the burro ride to Boquillas
boat as we mentioned in our title is named La Enchilada for some reason known
only to the boatman and of course, the other villagers. Fare is $2 per person
round trip. Be sure to pay for the "whole enchilada." The actual boat ride takes
about 20 seconds and if they had another boat, they could just put them bow to
stern and one could walk across. The depth of the river in early September was
about 2.5 feet due to the drought.
is not always the case. Mrs. Marquart of Sanderson
has seen local boys diving to retrieve the boat after heavy rains have swept it
downstream. Mrs. Marquart, Mr. Norris and other Sandersonians visit
frequently, bringing clothes, school supplies and even desks to the schoolchildren
has about 180 people from about 25 families. That's what we were told. There is
no electricity in Boquillas; everything runs on propane. The two-mile trip is
in truth closer to ¾ of a mile.
riders can easily be tied in place. |
animal providers await you on the Mexican side. One has burros only and the other
has burros and burritos, horses and horsitos.
We took a horse and a
burro - one from each "stable." The animals are docile, healthy and well watered.
You can ride them yourself, or for a few dollars more, a guide will walk with
the animal, holding the reins for you. If you insist and pay them more, I'm sure
the guide could be talked into riding, while you walk behind. The rate was $4
per animal - for one hour. That's enough time to ride to the top, have a tepid
beverage and/or something to eat and ride back down.
Hitching Post in Downtown Boquillas|
and Lobo As
you near the village, tables of quartz and other minerals are put out to catch
your eye. The cubic shapes and translucence of the quartz makes it look like pink,
Upon arrival the animals are tied to a hitching post 10
yards from a store/restaurant with a fine view.
The Cantina is 100 yards
further up the hill - follow the music. Boquillas has a tranquillity lacking in
other border towns. The population has worked out a system that seems to work
well for all concerned.
Perhaps the most entertaining part of the trip
(if your horse doesn't wander off into the verdant and prickly riverside growth)
is watching "Lobo."
swimming alongside "La Enchilada"|
Lobo is a waterdog
and has the look that no doubt inspired his name.
fear you may have of Lobo disappears when you see him swim behind the boat and
bite at the splashes of water deliberately thrown his way by the boatman's oar.
the horses/mules to the top of the hill, even though he's seen it all thousands
of times before.
had the heart of a puppy - but he ate it for lunch. |
The ride back is somehow shorter than the ride up. The animals seem more eager
to discharge their riders for the last time.
encourage visitors to Big Bend to cross at Boquillas, if only for the novelty.
Why did you leave home in the first place, if it wasn't to experience something
© John Troesser
Bend National Park website: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm
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Love your articles - keep them coming... by the way the crossing to Boquillas,
Mex. is now closed due to some drug trafficking and arrests made there in Sept
of this year... do not know when they will reopen it - Mike Arnold Tuesday,
November 28, 2000
Our sincere thanks to Mike Arnold. We called Big Bend and it seems that the Mayor
of Boquillas, Sr. Jose Falcon passed away a short time after our article was written
and that undesirable elements briefly reared their head. Thanks to the Border
Patrol, The DEA, Big Bend Park Officials and Mexican Authorities, arrests have
been made, Boquillas is once again open as of Nov. 27th and although Lobo was
questioned, we are happy to report he is back with his family. - Editor