After 911 the borders to access the quaint Mexican village of Boquillas closed and didn’t reopen until April 2013. The town died as it’s only source of income was now closed. The border has since been re-opened, and now you relive your very own “Gringo Honeymoon”.
My favorite part about this excursion is that it was immortalized by one of my favorites, Robert Earl Keen Jr. I strongly encourage you to listen to the song and even look up the lyrics to “Gringo Honeymoon”. A visit to Boquillas is what inspired this epic song. You can take that rowboat across the Rio Grande and saddle up a donkey and ride to town.
Pro Tip: There are some hot springs on the Mexico side that are far less known. With the right question and a tip, you can be taken to your private spa.
Pro Tip: Bring lots of $1 bills. Everything is “five dollars” but they love to negotiate, it’s part of their culture – so don’t take offense to it. Kindly barter with the locals, often kids, and come back with some souvenirs knowing you helped these folks immensely.
When you first get across, you will be assigned a guide. They are so happy to help you out, and you should embrace it. These village folks don’t have a lot and aren’t trying to scam you, they are only trying to make a sincere living and show you around their home. The people of Boquillas are kind, gentle people and deserve more than most are willing to give. These are family-oriented people and they believe in treating people right. The better you treat them, the more they will treat you like family.
This is a cultural experience. If you have the time, Lilia Falcon runs the family Falcon restaurant. She has a small shop for souvenirs and also mentioned she has rooms available for rent overlooking the Rio Grande.
Some eating options in Boquillas are some tasty, yet curiously tiny, tacos. They are amazing but seemingly a little more expensive than you would anticipate. Remember, you can negotiate to a point then consider what that one dollar means to you compared to what it means to them. It’s not about getting a deal at this point, rather the experience and how you are helping this community.
Oh, and if you are still following the song, you can go to the “towns best bar”. I actually witnessed the “crusty cabiaro” playing an old gut-string guitar. It was amazing.
Throughout Boquillas, and along the US border, you will see several pieces of art made of copper wire. They typically are sculptures of a scorpion with some added beads. You might also see an ocotillo with green and red beads showing it in full bloom. I even have many scorpions in my collection. Why all this copper wire art? Apparently, there were tons of phone wire coils delivered in order to advance the village years and years ago. Then 911 happened and the border closed. No more visitors meant no more tourism funds. Many left to search for work wherever they could. Those who stayed used the wire to make artwork and sold it where ever they could in order to make ends meet.