Big Bend Chat

el Estado de Coahuila de Mexico => Serranias del Burro, Del Carmens, El Carmen => Topic started by: kelvey7 on July 08, 2018, 05:19:20 PM

Title: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: kelvey7 on July 08, 2018, 05:19:20 PM
We are planning a visit to BBNP in October, and we would like to spend an afternoon in Boquillas del Carmen.  According to a couple of websites, the port of entry is only open certain days/times: Friday through Monday, 9:00am-6:00pm (summer), and Wednesday through Sunday, 8:00am-5:00pm (winter).  I'm assuming this means that these are the only times we can cross the border into Boquillas.  Does anyone know if October 2018 is considered summer or winter?  Or, since it's fall, does that mean the border will be closed?
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: Al on July 08, 2018, 05:26:07 PM
Yes those are the only times you can go to and from Boquillas directly through the park,  I'm pretty sure that's winter but to be sure I would call the park.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 08, 2018, 07:09:20 PM
Or, since it's fall, does that mean the border will be closed?

The crossing is open year round, excepting the days each week no crossings are permitted. You should realize there only are two seasons in Big Bend: hot and less hot. 'Moderate' occurs for a few minutes each year but not long enough to rate its own 'season.'

In fact, until I just looked, I was unaware the closed days vary by season and it would appear the summer operation is tied to the times usage presumably would be greatest; on the weekends, though I am unaware the reason ever clearly has been articulated.

So, you have 4 days in the summer and 5 days in the winter to cross. Miss the closing time and you get to spend the night in Boquillas, or several days depending on your level of inattentiveness. That in itself would be an adventure to some (unless non-refundable flight tickets are involved).

Hours of Operation:
    Summer: 9:00am–6:00pm, Friday through Monday. (as of May 13, 2018)
    Winter: 8:00am–5:00pm, Wednesday through Sunday

This all was so much easier before we became afraid of our own shadows and let fear rule under the false premise of security. This properly would be known as 'all fear, all the time' and the mentality now infects everything everywhere. I guess we were tougher before 9|11 left us quivering in the corner.

Before the idiotic closure, everyone just crossed 'illegally' in both directions. More importantly, back then no one cared, no one was harmed, and true illegal crossings were no different back then than the ones still occurring (that don't bother to go through the port of entry).

All we have gotten is an incredible overhead of cosmetic 'security' and administrivia, which serves zero purpose, except to folks who are comforted and beguiled by demonstrably (if objectively examined) ineffective processes.

Every time I've used the new and 'improved' Boquillas port of entry there have been more NPS and Customs/BP people in the building than tourists. On top of that, you are preliminarily vetted by the personnel there and then STILL have to walk across the room to process your reentry through the video kiosk. I guess the onsite personnel aren't trusted or able to do that job, even though that's how you enter every other port.

Incredible waste of labor and several million tax dollars to build an unnecessary 'port.'

Funny, on the Mexican side they seem to be able to do all this with one Aduana hombre in a single wide trailer (who never was there in all the years before we got stupid).

On the upside, at least you can go even though the experience isn't quite the authentic journey it once was. And, how many remember being able to, and took advantage of, similarly to visit the village of Santa Elena (now completely off limits)? That was an experience markedly different from Boquillas as Santa Elena was not the tourist show that was and is Boquillas.

Only those that knew these places prior to 9|11 have any appreciation of what apparently irrevocably has been lost and denied since.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: Jalco on July 08, 2018, 07:26:55 PM
I remember crossing over to Boquillas pre-closure.  Never did go to Santa Elena, and have always wondered why not?
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: Al on July 08, 2018, 07:29:19 PM
I'm just glad we are able to cross again,  Even that was controversial.  I commented in favor and a Texas Senator and former Park Super were opposed : https://www.regulations.gov/docket?rpp=50&po=0&D=USCBP-2011-0032
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 08, 2018, 07:44:11 PM
I'm just glad we are able to cross again,  Even that was controversial.  I commented in favor and a Texas Senator and former Park Super were opposed : https://www.regulations.gov/docket?rpp=50&po=0&D=USCBP-2011-0032

Yes, it is good to be able to cross.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense wanted the closure lifted, and anyone with an ounce of common sense never would have taken the closure action.

But, on cue, agency folks were all good with the shutdown and all opposed to lifting it (was it because the 'threat' to national security from a backwater location, nearly in the most isolated place it could be anywhere in either country apparently was so extreme the future of the nation was at risk?). The whole episode required a special kind of stupid paired with a special kind of fear. It hurts to ponder the incompetence of folks allowed to be in decision-making positions that affect us that way.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 08, 2018, 07:54:03 PM
I remember crossing over to Boquillas pre-closure.  Never did go to Santa Elena, and have always wondered why not?

Probably because it never really was promoted and thus never had the traffic going to Boquillas. Not having a large CG nearby, nor a store as at RGV that served folks across the river, or any other significant infrastruture generally kept usage on the west end of the park at a low level by everyone since the great majority of tourists were attracted to the Basin or RGV, and the Santa Elenans had no real reason to cross north.

Santa Elena was a farming community and only very minimally organized for tourists. There were a couple of 'restaurants' that were in the front rooms of residences (excellent meals), but no commercial installations at all. There probably were a few trinket sellers but I don't recall that being available. It was about as genuine a frontier experience as could be found.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: alan in shreveport on July 08, 2018, 08:54:55 PM
We went to Santa Elena many years ago when my kids were all young. We walked around a little and had a coke and a snack at a "restaurant". The one thing I remember was several goats looking at us from inside a building while we were walking down the street. Kind of funny. We got rowed across by Juan for a couple of bucks.
We've done the current Boquillas trip, it was nice and I'd recommend it if you have an afternoon. I crossed pre 9-11 when I was there for Sul Ross geology field camp. we waded across, got drunk at the Park bar, played pool, and got stopped by the Federales on our ( loud,obnoxious) walk back to the river. Eventually they walked us back down to the river and showed us the way home. Luckily our prof. spoke fluent Spanish and negotiated our release.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 08, 2018, 09:41:20 PM
We went to Santa Elena many years ago when my kids were all young. We walked around a little and had a coke and a snack at a "restaurant". The one thing I remember was several goats looking at us from inside a building while we were walking down the street. Kind of funny. We got rowed across by Juan for a couple of bucks.
We've done the current Boquillas trip, it was nice and I'd recommend it if you have an afternoon. I crossed pre 9-11 when I was there for Sul Ross geology field camp. we waded across, got drunk at the Park bar, played pool, and got stopped by the Federales on our ( loud,obnoxious) walk back to the river. Eventually they walked us back down to the river and showed us the way home. Luckily our prof. spoke fluent Spanish and negotiated our release.

Ah, the good old days.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: badknees on July 09, 2018, 06:07:51 AM
We went to Santa Elena many years ago when my kids were all young. We walked around a little and had a coke and a snack at a "restaurant". The one thing I remember was several goats looking at us from inside a building while we were walking down the street. Kind of funny. We got rowed across by Juan for a couple of bucks.
We've done the current Boquillas trip, it was nice and I'd recommend it if you have an afternoon. I crossed pre 9-11 when I was there for Sul Ross geology field camp. we waded across, got drunk at the Park bar, played pool, and got stopped by the Federales on our ( loud,obnoxious) walk back to the river. Eventually they walked us back down to the river and showed us the way home. Luckily our prof. spoke fluent Spanish and negotiated our release.

Ah, the good old days.

Yes I remember the good old days.  One Easter Sunday....long ago... I went to Boquillas on the boat for $1. I played pool with a local kid, who was a shark. I bought a bottle of tequila and set it on the bar for the locals and arranged a meal from one of the local ladies. She delivered a pot of beans and green chilis and a stack of tortillas. We all shared.....
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: Hang10er on July 09, 2018, 08:46:52 AM
We are planning a visit to BBNP in October, and we would like to spend an afternoon in Boquillas del Carmen.  According to a couple of websites, the port of entry is only open certain days/times: Friday through Monday, 9:00am-6:00pm (summer), and Wednesday through Sunday, 8:00am-5:00pm (winter).  I'm assuming this means that these are the only times we can cross the border into Boquillas.  Does anyone know if October 2018 is considered summer or winter?  Or, since it's fall, does that mean the border will be closed?

I'm sure you didn't intend to get the type of answers you got.  Someone did give you some good advice though and that would be to call to find out if October is "winter" or "summer". 

If you scour this board, you'll find a lot of details on the crossing itself.  I would recommend it if you have never been.  You get rolled across in a boat.  You can ride a donkey into town.  There's 2 places to eat.  One bar.  Lots of people selling souvenirs.  Really nice people.

Insure you have a passport.
Take cash, especially small bills for the donkey ride, meal, drink, souvenirs and to tip your guide if chosen.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 09, 2018, 10:12:19 AM
Really nice people.

Outside the eateries you will find a few folks who speak limited English. Engage them with your limited Spanish. You will go far with a smile and mangled language.

Be nice. Take an interest in their town and lives. This is not some attraction you are visiting even though it screams tourist, so be respectful of being in their community. Ask permission to do/see things.

Find a youngster (they generally will have a pretty good command of English) and hire one for a tour of the village. A lot of folks never get beyond the restaurants. Ask questions and you will learn a lot. Don't be a cheapo about tipping, but also don't overdo it. These folks are dirt poor and you generally are viewed as muy rico, which you are compared to them.

Numerous tiny children will mob you at every turn; all trying to sell you the same trinkets. While you cannot accommodate all of them, be nice to them and call them señor and señorita. Spread your purchases around.

One year we hired a 12 year old who spoke English extremely well (learned it off satellite TV). We got the best inside view I've ever had there. He was smart and funny and had enormous plans. He wanted to be an engineer (consider the difficulty of that coming from Boquillas...but I think he'll achieve it).

Even with the present overhead that detracts somewhat from the ad hoc frontier experience, this is a place and something very few ever will get to see. Take advantage of the opportunity.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: kelvey7 on July 09, 2018, 08:16:50 PM
Thanks, all!  I appreciate the advice and the stories from border crossing in the years pre-9/11. 

I called, and confirmed that they will likely be following the winter schedule in October, which is preferable given our travel dates.  Of course, they won't make any guarantees and reserve the right to change the schedule without advance notice.  If the port of entry is open when we are there, we will definitely prioritize a visit to Boquillas del Carmen.  I look forward to my kids getting to personally experience the border and the people who live and work in a small Mexican border village, so that they can better interpret what they are seeing in the media and hearing in the political debates.  Plus, my son loves to get stamps in his passport!
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: TxGypsyGal on July 28, 2018, 05:05:51 PM
Can I sneak in and further this conversation with more questions? March will be my 3rd trip to BBNP with my 3 kiddos. They’re a far cry from the the tiny tots I took 3 years ago. They’ll be 6,8,&10 this trip! I’d like to consider crossing into Boquillas this year, but unsure if I should while traveling alone with 3 younger children. Thoughts?
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: Al on July 28, 2018, 05:22:58 PM
Can I sneak in and further this conversation with more questions? March will be my 3rd trip to BBNP with my 3 kiddos. They’re a far cry from the the tiny tots I took 3 years ago. They’ll be 6,8,&10 this trip! I’d like to consider crossing into Boquillas this year, but unsure if I should while traveling alone with 3 younger children. Thoughts?

Absolutely not a problem and the kids will likely remember it fondly for the rest of their lives.  The folks in Boquillas will take great care of you and the kiddos.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: Jalco on July 28, 2018, 10:54:33 PM
Can I sneak in and further this conversation with more questions? March will be my 3rd trip to BBNP with my 3 kiddos. They’re a far cry from the the tiny tots I took 3 years ago. They’ll be 6,8,&10 this trip! I’d like to consider crossing into Boquillas this year, but unsure if I should while traveling alone with 3 younger children. Thoughts?

Absolutely not a problem and the kids will likely remember it fondly for the rest of their lives.  The folks in Boquillas will take great care of you and the kiddos.

+1
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 28, 2018, 11:02:32 PM
Can I sneak in and further this conversation with more questions? March will be my 3rd trip to BBNP with my 3 kiddos. They’re a far cry from the the tiny tots I took 3 years ago. They’ll be 6,8,&10 this trip! I’d like to consider crossing into Boquillas this year, but unsure if I should while traveling alone with 3 younger children. Thoughts?

Absolutely not a problem and the kids will likely remember it fondly for the rest of their lives.  The folks in Boquillas will take great care of you and the kiddos.

Indeed. Go.

Suggest you check on border crossing procedures with minors. I don't have any now and when I did there was no one watching or concerned about who went what direction or how they got across the river. Undoubtedly, things have become more complicated with kids (but not to the point of missing the experience).
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: mule ears on July 29, 2018, 05:49:48 AM
Suggest you check on border crossing procedures with minors. I don't have any now and when I did there was no one watching or concerned about who went what direction or how they got across the river. Undoubtedly, things have become more complicated with kids (but not to the point of missing the experience).

+1 to what presidio said, of course you will have to have passports for the kids too.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 29, 2018, 11:27:54 AM
of course you will have to have passports for the kids too.

Not necessarily; check the passport requirements.

A passport for a minor child only is absolutely required if traveling by air.

Arrival in the US by land or sea only requires proof of citizenship. A passport certainly does that, but other documents do as well.

See https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/your-trip

where you will find this:

Quote
Traveling with Children
When U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 arrive by land or sea from Canada or Mexico they may present an original or copy of their birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate.

Unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the child must have a notarized letter from the other parent or signed by both parents stating, "I acknowledge that my son/daughter is traveling outside the country with [the name of the adult] with my permission."

Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: Hang10er on July 29, 2018, 06:19:21 PM
Thanks, all!  I appreciate the advice and the stories from border crossing in the years pre-9/11. 

I called, and confirmed that they will likely be following the winter schedule in October, which is preferable given our travel dates.  Of course, they won't make any guarantees and reserve the right to change the schedule without advance notice.  If the port of entry is open when we are there, we will definitely prioritize a visit to Boquillas del Carmen.  I look forward to my kids getting to personally experience the border and the people who live and work in a small Mexican border village, so that they can better interpret what they are seeing in the media and hearing in the political debates.  Plus, my son loves to get stamps in his passport!


You might ask, but I don't remember them stamping my passport. 

You can also cross with a "Passport Card" which is a bit cheaper than a full blown passport.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: nuggetf5 on July 29, 2018, 06:31:55 PM
My passport was stamped Nov. 1, 2017 on my last visit to the park. Happened to be sitting on my desk because I'm getting ready to travel out of country. That said, they need to upgrade their stamp or get better ink. It's nothing to get excited about, can barely read it.

Count me as thinking totally safe to bring kids there, and I think it'd be a great experience they won't forget. If you want to see a world where everyone isn't plugged into the internet 24/7 and electricity is a luxury, this is it. The people couldn't be nicer and I get a real sense that the family is a strong unit. What appears to be a pre-school is just down the road from the two restaurants a ways, an easy walk and the little kids waved at me when I walked by.
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: presidio on July 29, 2018, 09:53:50 PM
That said, they need to upgrade their stamp or get better ink. It's nothing to get excited about, can barely read it.

Yep. Pretty ho-hum both in ink and design.

Quote
Count me as thinking totally safe to bring kids there, and I think it'd be a great experience they won't forget. If you want to see a world where everyone isn't plugged into the internet 24/7 and electricity is a luxury, this is it.

It is a valuable eye-opener. Many years ago when my kids were pre-teen, I walked them across the border to Palomas Mexico for a couple of hours. Easy place to cross as it's a land border in New Mexico.

My son, who was 9 or 10 was agog and excitedly observed "dad, they don't even have sidewalks." I told him what he was seeing was how much of the rest of the world lived. The juxtaposition across the few feet from one country to the other could not have been starker and it is pretty hard to find such a harsh dichotomy anywhere else than along our southern border.

When you have third world smashing into the first, and that huge difference easily is visible at mere glance, it makes clear the attraction for folks to come north, even as the aspirants lack the skills and resources to make a successful transition. Determination and grit are powerful motivators and thus we have the vexing border political issues.

Back to Palomas. This is a bit lengthy and off-topic, but it's border related.

Even today, it is a very small village, but much more economically prosperous than in the 90s. Great place to visit and see the typical border tourist setup without the congestion and hassle of the far larger border cities.  It has a thriving optical and dental industry and folks get care every bit as good as anything in the US for a fraction of the cost (some folks get care for less than their deductible would be in the US.

Eat and shop at the Pink Store (a whole block south of the border), which combines really good food with curio shopping that ranges from cheesy to elegant. Plus, as you walk around the store they will ply you with free beer and margaritas (and you are not obligated to do any more than just look). It's a winning marketing strategy.

Be sure to try some Indio beer, which is not imported into the US (it should be...it is excellent).

See the huge Pancho Villa, Gen Pershing and Obregón bronze statues. Palomas was from where Villa raided Columbus NM (3 mi north) in 1916, launching a US Army campaign (which failed) to capture Villa. However it was the proving ground for many future US military greats (Patton was there) for the upcoming involvement in WWI and represented the first US use of a mechanized and aviating army. Patton perhaps was the greatest beneficiary of the experience and he learned well as he demonstrated in WWII.

Palomas is proud of Pancho and his exploits, as is Columbus of their performance during the raid, and all are celebrated every March. 2019 will be the 20th anniversary of this event and it's very much worth attending. Things kick off with a cabalgata horseback ride from Palomas into Columbus.

Camping is at the Pancho Villa State Park which is on the site of the army's Camp Furlong that was established for the Mexico excursion. Quite a few remains of the camp are preserved and scattered among the campsites. The state park museum is excellent and the Columbus town museum directly across the highway is equally interesting even though literally crammed with artifacts and a bit disorganized.

I have been to the celebration a number of times and was at the 100th anniversary of the raid in 2016. That particular year was highlighted by the attendance of Pancho Villa's great-grandson (Antonio Villa), and Gen Patton's granddaughter ( Helen Patton, who traveled from France, where she lives). Both spoke at length in an historical presentation.

The 2016 event is described here
https://www.demingheadlight.com/story/news/2016/02/15/cabalgata-binacional-plans-annual-gallop/80419086/

Another view here
https://www.abqjournal.com/735505/southern.html

One more for those interested
http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/local_news/friendship-across-the-frontier-villa-cavalcade/article_b7cee3e0-f500-11e5-b68b-1794b6023408.html
Title: Re: Boquillas Port of Entry Question
Post by: mule ears on July 30, 2018, 06:48:06 AM
Great info presidio.  Columbus is also one of the 3 southern termini for the Continental Divide Trail.