By Cactus Jane
You never know what might happen in Boquillas.
Sometimes, the plan is as simple as crossing the border for lunch at Falcon’s Restaurant. Will you take the ferry boat or cross the river by foot? Will you walk into town? Or ride a burro or horse, or hitch a ride in a truck- there are several options for a small fee. I like to walk into town, and take a burro back to the river after a long hot day in town.
Falcon’s has delicious little taco-sized burritos, filled with pintos and cabbage, or meat, and a great variety of salsa and jalapenos to go with their yummy guacamole. Of course, they have a ton of other offerings, too, from quesadillas to fajitas.
Other times, the goal is to saddle up to the bar at Bark Bar, get real comfortable, and try all the mescal and Mexican beer they’ve got! That can take all day. Be sure to carve your name into the bar, and play a game or two of pool. It’s always fun to mosie over to the curio shop at Falcon’s afterwards, to peruse the blouses, dresses and jewelry, or to have a second lunch!
But there is more to do than eat and drink in town. If you’re up for exploring less traveled options, you will find there are friendly people willing to help you experience other places and delicacies of Boquillas.
People staying in Big Bend National Park for extended periods, maybe interested to know that Boquillas offers a welcoming Sunday church service. It’s not part of the regular itinerary, but, the ferrymen (the guys you meet when you first cross over) are more than willing to arrange a taxi, whether by truck or burro, to the humble little Baptist church, Boquillas Bautista Iglesia, on the east side of the village. Service begins at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays, and yes—or should I say “sí”—the service is in español.
The pastor is so welcoming when U.S. visitors make the effort to attend. On a recent visit, he welcomed me and some friends and thanked us for being there. Then the congregation sang a special song. The service consisted of a brief sermon, and about a dozen church members took turns reading a verse from the Bible or saying a short prayer. It was quite lovely.
There were two dogs making themselves comfortable—one was sleeping curled up by the pews, and a smaller chihuahua got scooped up by yours truly, and made a friendly companion for the rest of the service.
Afterwards, everyone shook hands, hugged friends, and all were welcoming and kind. It was an enchanting way to begin the morning, and a nice way to connect to our neighbors on the other side of the Río.
Certain times of the year, goat herders have cabritos. If you’re really up for an alternative adventure, you can ask the ferrymen if there are any kid goats available, and if anyone wants to throw a goat barbecue! Of course, they will determine a fair fee, and it may be the wrong time of year, but it never hurts to ask! If you get lucky and there’s a kid goat available and some men willing to cook it up, then you will taste some of the finest food in all of Northern Mexico.
Goat cooked on a disco over an open fire of mesquite wood is truly one of the best delicacies. The meat is barbecued with an occasional splash of cerveza, and at some point, the chef adds jalepeños, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and salt. Maybe there are other seasonings, but it is quite possible you will be distracted from enjoying a cerveza, laughing at the growing audience of dogs, and chatting with locals as everyone waits for the dish to finish cooking.
For me, the setting is at once humble and grand. Boquillas villagers have few ways to generate income, and tourism is one of them. That is why you will see so many signs in English. The bathrooms, restaurants, bars, hand washing stations are all clearly marked in English, and many of the villagers try their best to communicate in English, too.
It is not a rich village—yet. Perhaps one day that will change, as people realize what a treasure this little escape is. The locals have made improvements since their little village re-opened just a few years ago, but it’s taken time and tourism dollars to help them out. They are eager for visitors to enjoy their humble, beautiful town.
If you get the opportunity to spend a day in Boquillas, do it! You can’t go wrong with the restaurants and bars, and if you want something a little extra special, try to spend the day with locals. They make great hosts!
From the National Park Service website:
Visiting Mexico through the park’s Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry is an option for visitors possessing a valid passport.The Port of Entry is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00am-6:00pm (summer), 8:00am-5:00pm (winter). U.S. currency is accepted in Boquillas though visitors are advised to bring smaller bills or rely on Boquillas vendors to provide change for their purchases. The Rio Grande Village Store and the Rio Grande Visitor Center cannot make change for visitors travelling to Boquillas. For more information about restaurants; camping; lodging; local handicrafts; activities, and history visit Boquillas.org.