Our RV and outdoor enthusiastic friends, Bill and Porter from Trinkles On Tour, recommended that we do something a little ‘different’ during our Big Bend National Park visit in March 2018. They told us we can’t leave Big Bend without going to Boquillas, Mexico to do ‘this’. They said to make sure we have our passports with us….
So the next morning, we left Liberty parked at Maverick Ranch RV Resort in Lajitas, Texas which is about a half hour drive to the Big Bend National Park Maverick Junction entrance. After taking our usual National Park entrance sign photos, we loaded back up into our dually and drove another 20 minutes to Panther Junction Visitor Center to get our National Park Passport stamped. Once we did that, we hopped back into our truck and drove another 25 minutes to the Boquillas Port of Entry.
We parked at the Boquillas Crossing parking lot near Boquillas Canyon. Boquillas isn’t like other big Ports of Entry. It was a small building with one Border Patrol Agent and two electronic kiosks where we would insert our passport, talk on a phone to an agent upon our return to the states. Certainly not how we crossed the border to Los Algodones in January. The BPO who checked us out, explained the process of getting across the border and what to expect once we got there.
After passing through the Port of Entry, we walked down to the Rio Grande River to meet Antonio and his wee boat. We each paid him our five bucks and in return, got our golden ticket for our ride back. Anyway, he told us to get in the boat, sit down and shut up. Ok, totally making up the shut up part but we were without words at the whole operation.
Antonio was cool. We liked him. He was always smiling and spoke fluent English with us. I’m guessing he really liked his job because, doing the math in our heads, he netted about $400-500 American dollars A DAY! Seriously, we are in the wrong business here!
Anyway, we were ferried across the Rio Grande in a small row boat…yes, I said ROW BOAT for a total of $10 round trip for both of us. I guess we could have walked across the river for nothing but we weren’t prepared or dressed for it. I was so bummed that we weren’t serenaded like those funny guys in striped shirts, tight black bell bottoms and cool brimmed hats like they do on the gondolas in Italy.
Oh no! This was like boarding a beat up aluminum skiff that you’d see in the bayous of Loooziana. Anyways, the whole nautical experience took us all of five minutes so even if Antonio did serenade us, we’d be there before his little song was over.
Once we got to the Mexican beach, we quickly disembarked and were greeted by Pedro and his herd of….DONKEYS!!! Yep, you read that right…DONKEYS! Oh, there were also horses too.
So THIS is the part Bill and Porter enchanted us with their recommendation. ‘Ya gotta ride the donkeys!’ they said. ‘It’ll be fun!’, they said.
But there was more…
There was also Jose’s little, Toyota what-the-hell-is-that pickup truck that we could hire to cart us to town, but we chose the donkeys because when in Mexico, you supposed to ride donkeys, not stupid beat up pickup trucks.
I look back over to eight lost college kids, who arrived before us, loading up into Jose’s beat up Toyota I’m thinking, seriously? Peeps come from all over the world to do this whole Juan Valdez thing and yet, there they were paying seven bucks each to ride in the back of Jose’s little Toyota what-the-hell-is-that pickup truck? Did they NOT get the memo?
Then it hit me. Pedro doesn’t WANT these wise-ass (haha, I made a funny!) college kids riding his prized donkey steeds!
But Pedro happily loaded us up on our little donkeys and off we went! It certainly wasn’t the Kentucky Derby by any measure. These little guys were slower than molasses in January. They were so slow that Pedro kept slapping them on their asses (hehe I made another funny!) to make them go…faster.
We were laughing like little school girls. Dan’s donkey “Sea Biscuit” (Dan named him) was seemingly having a hard day. He needed his ass beat just to go three more steps. Sea Biscuit was the lazy ass! (Ha! There I go again!) Donkey Herder, Pedro wasn’t too happy and kept yelling at Sea Biscuit in Spanish. If only we paid attention in high school Spanish classes to know what he was yelling but we can only guess that Sea Biscuit was going to have to sleep outside with the scorpions and rattlers if he didn’t pick it up a notch.
Oh, and my cute little ass…er…donkey? He seemed more on his game. He was a happy little donkey trotter. He was running for the roses…or at least trying. Pedro probably promised him some beefarino at the finish line.
Pedro must have liked my donkey better because he didn’t get his ass beat as much as Dan’s Sea Biscuit. Anyway, I named my little donkey ‘Biscuits & Gravy’. Why? Oh, I don’t know, I was just hungry, I guess.
Speaking of hungry, why did we go to Boquillas to begin with? LUNCH!
Gringos, like us, ride donkeys to Mexico for a round of tequila shots, bottled Mexican beer (because its not wise to drink the water!) and awesome Mexican food made by real Mexicans and not that Taco Bell crap we get in the states.
We finally get ‘downtown’ (seriously, it’s SO not what you think!) and disembark our sweet rides. Pedro tied our little asses up but I noticed he whispered something in Sea Biscuit’s ear. Only Sea Biscuit, Pedro and God knows what he said but I’m guessing Pedro wasn’t telling him what a good little donkey he was.
Pedro then led us to check in with Mexican Immigration where we had to fill out a documents with our name, date, gender, why were were there and other trivial matters. After, Pedro switched turned Superman on us as our ‘guide’ into the big town of Boquillas. He dropped us off at the restaurant where we were left at our own demise. Good thing they had picture menus!
We had a wonderful quiet lunch at the Boquillas Restaurant but without the tequila because we certainly didn’t want to get a DRWI (Donkey Riding While Intoxicated) citation. Not that we would be cited by the nonexistent police, we didn’t want to get silly stupid in a foreign country. We did that in our younger sailor days, but I digress.
We decided after paying our bill to ditch our Pedro so we could have some alone time exploring the town. He was sort of mad because I think he was really counting on our one-dollar tip.
After walking around the town for about a half hour, we made our way back to the Mexican Immigration to check out. We then walked around the corner to where Pedro was patiently waiting for us.
Wouldn’t you know it, we had to ride Sea Biscuit and Biscuits and Gravy back to the boat. Sea Biscuit was misbehaving again; he kept walking into Biscuits and Gravy as if he had a little too much tequila himself.
Finally, our donkey excursion was over. We got back into Antonio’s boat. We watched two Canadians, who sat at the next table over from us at lunch, remove their shoes and walk across the Rio Grande while we floated to the other side. Our boat arrived safely on the American shore and we bid Antonio farewell.
We walked back up to the American Port of Entry, did the whole passport and answer a million questions thing and that was our day.
It was an exciting adventure of firsts for us. We transported four ways that day; we walked, rode in our truck, were rowed in a boat and we rode donkeys. How many can say that about their day?