Main Page > 2004 Messin' With Texas >
Waking up in South Padre with a new appreciation of why it is not a good idea to travel the northern breaches of South Padre, the boys turned their attentions south, to the point that the Rio Grande meets with the Gulf of Mexico, or the southernmost city in Tehas, Brownsville.
Missin' the Rio Grande
Big Mouths missing the "Mouth" That morning Mike and Bone thought it would be cool to find the spot that the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. After a lot of driving on an increasingly unstable beach the boys gave up he search and headed back to Brownsville. Even though they didn't find the mouth of the Rio Grande, they did stumble on two historical sites:
The Civil War in Texas? The Battle of Palmito Ranch
When most people think of the Civil War they think of bucolic Virginia or Pennsylvania countryside and when they think of the end of the war they think of Grant and Lee at Appomattox. The last actual battle was in Texas just south of Brownsville along the Rio Grande in the Battle of Palmito Ranch, where the last official casualty was a unfortunate Indiana Hoosier.
The second historical marker was dedicated for a site of a Mexican-American War Fort. As part of the U.S. declaration of war on May 13, 1846, Congress authorized the raising of up to 50,000 volunteers from the various states. Camp Belknap, established in July 1846, was named for William Goldsmith Belknap, a regular army officer. Located on a long, narrow rise of land called the "Loma de la Estrella" (Spanish for "Hill of the Star"), it was one of the largest volunteer troop encampment sites during the War with Mexico.
"Brownsville,,, er,,, USA ?"
Driving into the southernmost town in Texas to find breakfast, Mike and Bone noticed the that signs in town were all in Spanish. When Mike and Bone stopped at a Gas Station to fuel up, they ended up helping a van-load of elderly Mexican women with a dead battery. Mike and Bone didn't expect the women to speak much English, but neither did the gas station attendants, nor anyone in the greasy cafeteria they went into afterwards for breakfast!!
Marauding into Mexico
The boys had never toured together in Mexico, not wanting to pass up the opportunity, after a bad breakfast they drove across the border into Matamoras for souvenirs for the families, Mexican-American War sites, and adventure !!
Crossing the Border into Matamoras
"No donde dinero, you dirty cop !!" Unfortunately two minutes after driving into the country, the boys realized that Matamoras was not tourist friendly. Almost immediately they were pulled over by a Mexican Federale who was for the most part, trying to extort 20 bucks from the boys. After the cop gave up (without getting a dime!!) they haggled with a quote, unquote tourist guide, who wanted the boys to pay $10 bucks for a "tour" of Matamoras, instead they were directed to a Tourist Joint where the boys loaded up treats for their families.
However, after a very brief tour of Matamoras, the boys determined that this in one dirty border town, that was a total waste of time, and scurried back across the border.
The Rio Grande, no bigger than a Sewer Drain
Racing back across the border before any further attempted extortion took place. The boys made a strategic decision on the next part of the trip to begin tracking north along the Rio Grande, especially since they were at the southernmost tip of Texas and did not have any water transportation to continue south !!
Just a stones throw away from Mexico
Mike and Bone drove a parallel road north along the Rio Grande, as they left the heavily fenced river area in the Brownsville/Matamoras area the boys noticed that for the most part, the border is pretty much unguarded as shown in these pictures.
Damn its Hot !!!
As they continued their drive up along the Rio Grande, the boys passed mile after mile of lush farms, and verdant semi-tropical areas.
Mike, contemplating a swim across the Rio Grande to become an Illegal Alien !!!
Marauding into Mexico Part Two
As it approached noon Bone suggested they grab lunch in Mexico, especially since there really were not many towns on the USA side of the Rio Grande. Seeing the exit into Mexico, Bone impulsively pulled onto the ramp to the bridge across, and once more into a strange foreign land.
Going down to Shanty Town. As the boys started on the bridge over to Mexico, the boys noticed on the North side of the bridge 10 to 15 Quonset Huts along the river in various stages of disrepair, displaying the most abject poverty that one would expect of a Third World Country, or downtown Detroit !
Crossing back into Mexico, Bone looked for a quaint little roadside restaurant. After driving past factory, after factory of expatriate American firms like GM and Motorola they saw modern factories with garbage everywhere in the broken, uneven streets.
Mike in Bone in the Mexican Maquilladoro Border Town of Reynosa
Finally as they approached the heart of Reynosa, they saw a sleepy little outdoor restaurant, that Bone had to check out.
"Bone there is no way I'm am eating these Greasy Chips and Questionable Salsa, but I will drink a Modelo !"
Walking in, the place was a little too quaint for Mike in the hygienics departments since the food was being fried on the street and the chilies being boiled outside next to the bathroom. There is something quite strange to watch the salsa you are about to eat boiling while you are taking a pee !!! Despite the risks, Bone ordered some chips and salsa, while Mike watched warily while ordering a few Mexican Modelos.
The Mexicano Flag in Reynoso
It really is not a good idea to get lost while driving in Mexico. After the chips, salsa, and beer, Mike and Bone attempted to find the border using the "Force", with no directions or clue the boys wandered in what they thought was the right direction, and just when things started to get a little tense (added in part to another Mexican Federale trailing the boys car), when thankfully they found a the Border and again crossed again back into the US.
Lunching in back in the States, or was it ?!?
On the Texas side just North of the city of Rio Grande (on the Rio Grande), the boys stopped for lunch at a little restaurant called "El Pollo del Camarcho". The menu looked inviting, but the teenaged wait staff could not understand a word of English !!! After 10 minutes of hand signaling the boys were able to order a fairly good meal of fahitas, refried beans and Spanish rice. With the day beginning to wane, They hit the road.
Changing Lanes and Terrains
As they continued North the temperature was still in the high 90's, but he humidity dropped noticeably and the terrain became arid. Around 5:00 the boys came up to Laredo which they selected due to a freeway they went straight to San Antonio as the last adventure for the trip. Driving to the town square, the boys checked into a nice hotel within walking distance of the border.
Lovely Laredo, Texas
As they continued North the temperature was still in the high 90's, but he humidity dropped noticeably and the terrain became arid. Around 5:00 the boys came up to Laredo which they selected due to a freeway they went straight to San Antonio as the last adventure for the trip. Driving to the town square, the boys checked into a nice hotel within walking distance of the border. However .....
Mike walking from Laredo, Texas to Nueva Laredo, Mexico in the 100 degree heat
It truly was only a few blocks, the humidity was much lower than in Matamoras and South Padre Island, but walking in 103 degree heat is well, hot !!! A the walk over the boys noticed that Nueva Laredo was cleaner than Matamoras and Reynosa and that Americans were quite as a hassled at the Border by street vendors.
Hangin out in Nueva Laredo
Hanging out in the Nueva Laredo Town Square, the boys wandered around look for a good place to cool off, grab some dinner, and have a few drinks. Checking out their options with a few locals they settle on a local Bar/Restaurant a few blocks from the Border.
Watching the Pistons !?!
Walking into the Bar Mike and Bone felt they had been transported back to the 1950's, the Bar's decor was not old, in fact it looked very recent, it did however look like a old distinguished establishment with waiters in tuxedos and bowties. Sidling up the Bar, Mike and Bone ordered a couple of Margie's, and a Cuban cigar. As they were enjoying the alcohol and ambiance, they noticed Game 3 of the NBA Finals with the Lakers and the boys beloved Piston battling in Auburn Hills Michigan. Saving the irony of two boneheads from Metro Detroit watching a Detroit Team in a world championship in Mexico was so cool another round of margies were order along with a shot.
By 11:30 the Boy's were getting a little uncomfortable with hanging around too long in Mexico, paid off their bill, and sauntered back over the border in time to watch the Pistons win the game.
Despite going over to Nueva Laredo for Dinner, they didn't have it !! Therefore at Midnight the boys ordered Pizza Hut, and went to the pool to wait for it. The evening ended after 1:00 AM with the boys munching pizza, while watching SportsCenter's Pistons Post Game comments.