Big Bend / Boquillas Border Crossing
Earlier this month, I decided (last minute) to drive to West Texas to visit Big Bend National Park. It was during Spring Break. Bad Idea. All the lodges and campgrounds were full. We barely found an available campsite outside of the park in Terlingua. Knowing that authentic Mexican food never fails to cure my random intense craving for spice, I crossed the border to Boquillas, Mexico.
The Cheapest Ticket to Mexico
There are 2 ways to cross the US/Mexico Border from Big Bend: getting your feet wet or a $5 boat ride to the other side. I consider myself a smart traveler but I went ahead and paid the small fee to ride the boat to the other side (I'll explain why in a bit). Once you get to Mexico, you are greeted by some friendly locals who will offer you a truck ride to town for $3. You can ride a mule for $8. The village is about half a mile away. There is also a small hot springs area (El Calderon) you can check out which is about 0.6 miles away.
A Frontier Border Town
Boquillas reflects the durable character of the region and its residents welcoming visitors to experience the culture and its history on the edge of two countries. Back in 2001, shortly after 9/11, the US border crossing to Boquillas closed due to obvious reasons. This tiny rural village has been heavily dependent on their small tourism industry. Residents started leaving the village soon after the border closing. The town population dwindled as the primary source of income for a lot of families was suddenly cut-off. Fast-forward to April 2013, the border reopens and the village has recovered. They town recently just acquired electricity and a lot of small businesses are slowly flourishing. When I was there, around 300 people crossed over to explore the town and grab some lunch. During the summer, less people go because of the extremely hot weather.
The Main Event
Currently, there are only 2 restaurants in the tiny town of Boquillas: Jose Falcon and Boquillas Restaurant. Both serve fantastic Mexican food. I started out with goat tacos in Boquillas Restaurant for lunch and ended my day with chicken enchiladas from Jose Falcon. It really doesn't matter what you order, the food will never disappoint. The menu is not that extensive in Jose Falcon and Boquillas Restaurant doesn't even have a physical menu. You just get to pick from 3 different items (tacos, enchiladas or tamales). But like I said, you will cross the border back to the US feeling very satisfied regardless of your choice.
Boquillas Needs You
I consider myself pretty well traveled throughout Mexico; I've been to well developed beach towns like Cancun and Cabo. I've also been to some small rural areas and even small fishing villages outside of the big cities. This unique border town next to Big Bend National Park is a good way to understand and experience a side of Mexico rarely seen by most travelers. I admit, I came here to satisfy cravings for authentic "South of the Border" cuisine. I came back with a few new friends, a very humbling experience and a unique perspective on life's simplicity.
Contrary to popular belief, this place is actually a very safe area. I spent the entire day interacting with the locals. After eating, I went to someone's house to buy homemade tortilla (Maya's Tortilla). I played around the sand dunes until it got dark. I even stayed at the Bed and Breakfast at Jose Falcon ($30 per night). So next time you're in Big Bend, please cross the border and eat a mountain of tacos. It's a win-win situation for both the locals and your tummy. Don't forget to bring your passport, plenty of water, and a lot of small bills. Always remember that the Boquillas Border Crossing is only open Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Plan ahead if you are thinking about spending the night. You won't regret it. The family that owns Jose Falcon restaurant/hotel are very nice and helpful. They have a small store that has pretty much everything you need. They also have a lot of interesting stories to tell you about their family history and culture.