Having lived in San Diego, both Derek and I have been to Mexico before so this wasn’t a first, but it was our first time visiting Boquillas. This port of entry is for foot traffic only; you can’t drive across at all. The crossing is about 5 minutes from where we are camped and pretty easy.
Boquillas was founded as a mining town in the late 1890’s. Silver, zinc and lead were discovered and transported. A cable car took the material across the Rio Grande where it was transported by road to El Paso. At the height of the operation, there were around 2,000 people in Boquillas. Today there are around 260. This place is isolated with the next nearest town being 150 miles away! Tourism is the main trade, although the border crossing closed for a handful of years after 9/11. With the crossing reopen the town has grown a tiny bit and now has a new medical care facility and a big solar installation that powers the town.
With our passports in our pockets we headed through the entry station, walked down a short path to the Rio Grande, and paid $5 each to have a guy row us a cross in a little boat. Once on the other side, we walked the short half mile into town. Colorful buildings dot the town which sits up on the hillside above the river. There are at least a dozen little stands selling handmade wares and little kids are eager to get you to buy woven bracelets. We stopped in at The Boquillas Restaurant for beers and food. Derek had the goat tacos and I had chicken tamales and bean enchiladas. We polished off the pickled jalapenos and homemade salsa easily. AND wouldn’t you know it, a couple at another table noticed our Webcyclery hats and introduced themselves. They live in Bend.
With full bellies we walked down the length of the main street; nothing is paved here. We talked to some locals, took some pictures, walked through the visitor center, and enjoyed this quiet way of life. When finished we walked back down to the river for the boat ride back across and reentered the US. It’s a tiny border crossing, a one man operation. Kind of. The agent scanned our passports into a kiosk and then the phone rang. On the other end of the line is another agent in El Paso. He asked if we were bringing anything back and then wished us a good day. Easy peezy.
On our way back to camp we stopped off and hiked Boquillas Canyon. This is a short 1.4 mile out and back with tremendous views of the canyon and river. What a special place.