Trip to Mexico from BBNP

Boquillas del Carmen, known simply as Boquillas [boo-key-us], is a village in northern Mexico, west of the northern part of the Sierra del Carmen mountain range, and at the south-west end of the Rio Grande’s Boquillas Canyon on the southeastern part of Big Bend National Park. Join along our trip to Mexico from BBNP to this tiny village to see how does this village thrive and how is it like in there, as we enjoyed our visit, delighted in the boat rides across the Rio, truck/burro rides to the village, and met friendly people, heard good music, and especially tasted great food!

Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico
Population: ~200.

Day 1.

Our main trip of the day was to Mexico.

Trip to Mexico from BBNP.

We planned on crossing the border around noon just in time for a Mexican lunch. Link had a special request: margarita and tequila. We haven’t done this or maybe it’s the only time we get to do this, so I gave him what he wanted; no harm done.

We drove to Boquillas Crossing and went through Border Patrol/Port of Entry Building, where the ranger gave us brief instructions with some safety tips and of what items are allowed or not to bring back to the United States from Mexico, as some items are considered contraband, and you don’t want to be involved in it. To return to the United States, you need your passport. Boquillas Crossing is administered by the National Park Service.

The Trail.

We exited the building through the door on the left that leads to a trail along the Rio Grande river. Just outside the door, a big fan was running, which was great relief from extreme heat, especially for those who would come back from Mexico before entering the building. Have you ever positioned yourself such that fans blow cold air right on you as you stay put? Maybe it was the inner child pushed by extreme heat, but I found myself doing just that 🙂

boquillas trail

The trail is only about 700’ from the Border Patrol Building. In no time we reached the dock where we would cross Mexico from, either by row boat ride ($5 each, round trip), or by crossing the river on foot or swim (if you dare), depending on the water level (free).

river crossing

For the experience, we rode on the international ferry, a little metal rowboat, for about a minute ride to another country, on the other side of the river which was now in Mexico. On this side, a lot of Mexicans were waiting in groups. The group of donkey/burro owners under their own shed with their animals for transportation, a group of truck drivers sharing the small shed with the boat people. By this time, it was scorching hot. But we brought plenty of water with us.

Couple crossing the river on foot from US to Mexico. Saved $5

burros

Boquillas del Carmen village is about a mile away from the river and you have the option of hiking it (free), riding the burro ($5 RT), or riding on rugged and time-tested trucks ($5 each, round-trip).

Because of the extreme desert heat, we rode the truck. The driver was Carmelo, and a rep or guide accompanied us to the village. Carmelo dropped us off, and the rep led us to the town admin/customs to check in and pay $5 each. Carmelo and his friend both carried walkie-talkie to communicate with for when their passengers were ready to leave the village.

Boquillas del Carmen is a 2-restaurant town.

Carmelo’s recommended restaurant was the Boquillas restaurant. The rep’s recommendation for best place to have lunch was the Jose Falcon restaurant.

falcon restaurantboquillas restaurant

We went to Falcon Restaurant since the rep was with us. The restaurant featured a live singer plucking and strumming his guitar singing Mexican music exactly the same as some Filipino songs, only in different language. Good nostalgic music. Perfect for an afternoon siesta. We were in a ‘hall’ with one side open facing the river with an overlook of the Boquillas Canyon and the Rio Grande river.

Trip to Mexico from BBNP Boquillas Restaurant

Boquillas del Carmen is in the tip of Mexico.

The nearest Mexican town is about 200 miles away. It is on this far town that they get their supplies, including the restaurant supplies. Before 9/11, they could just cross the river and buy supplies at the Big Bend Park grocery store in Rio Grande Village. But after then, the entry on this corridor was closed. The village was fatally affected. The border re-opened in April 2013, and the village thrived again. Boquillas has no air conditioning amidst the desert heat, but they got ice in restaurants for the thirsty customers.

Trip to Mexico from BBNP Boquillas Restaurant

 

So, Link’s margarita was on the rocks, like chunks of cylindrical transparent ice. The food was good, we were full and satisfied. The waiter was fun and friendly. After our lunch, the rep/guide, who understandably works on tip, walked with us around the village to see the houses which were painted in different bright colors for contrast from their desert surroundings. It is vastly a different ‘world’ from its closest neighbor.

Trip to Mexico from BBNP Boquillas Restaurant

Little Mexican children met us to sell their handicrafts.

There’s really not much to see except some ruins and the display of their crafts for sale. We saw the walking stick for $10 apiece. They lowered it to $8, but we passed. At this moment, we completely forgot about contraband things.

By the river where the Mexican men make transportation business, there was a curious cute dog covered in dry mud. Life here was so simple, but somehow it was heart-wrenching.

Trip to Mexico from Big Bend National Park

The truck driver offered to drive us, for free, to a hot spring on the Mexico side which was supposed to be bigger than the one on the USA side. We accepted the offer, but later we decided against it and crossed back over to USA.

Including the tip to the guitar man, we spent about $60 in Mexico for this trip. Boquillas del Carmen is a town that is totally dependent on tourism to support its less than 300 people. Though Mexican Peso is the currency of the country, Boquillas accept US Dollars no problem, and cash is king.

Trip to Mexico from Big Bend National Park

 

Upon returning from our Trip to Mexico from BBNP, we scanned our passports on the machine. On my screen, I was instructed to pick up the handset and was told by the immigration officer to face the camera so he could see my face clearly. So apparently, even though the check in kiosk is computerized, an immigration officer over at El Paso, TX is monitoring the border crossing very closely, yet remotely. They are doing a great job!

The Port of Entry building closes early.

Should you miss the ‘last call’, there is also a hotel in Boquillas del Carmen to spend the night in.

Despite the heat, we had a great time, were feeling accomplished, full, and happy! I would recommend this short trip to Mexico from BBNP. Overall, it was a great experience meeting friendly people and setting foot in a place that is vastly different from its neighbor that was just across the river, a stone’s throw away.

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