Saturday, February 23, 2019

Boat Tour of the Rio Grande River

Before we wrapped up our stay in the Valley, we had several activities planned with a group from the campground.

First up was a boat tour of the Rio Grande River, leaving from the Riverside Club in Mission.  We had a quick lunch at the bar while waiting for out tour time, and then everybody got loaded onto the boat – our group almost filled the entire boat!

It was a beautiful day for a boat ride!

From the Riverside Club, we travelled downriver as far as we could go, turning around at the Anzalduas Dam, and then travelling upriver beyond the Riverside Club for some distance before turning around and heading back.

Along the river on the US side east of the Riverside Club was the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge, where the land has been left in its natural state.

The Mexico side, though, was mostly privately owned and there were several recreation areas that looked really nice.  Our boat driver told us that most were privately owned by businesses, for the recreational use of their employees and families.

Clearly it’s not all poverty on the Mexican side of the river.

Continuing downriver, at one point we could see a short section of concrete border wall . . . one of the few sections of wall in this area.

This area of the river was really wide, more like a lake than a river, partly because of the dam, but also due to a re-routing of the river during the last flood.  We’re told that the river does that a lot – during a flood season, it overflows its banks, creating a new path, and after the water recedes the river doesn’t go back to it original path.  In this case, the changing path of the river took out half of a city park on the Mexico side.

AS the river twists and turns, you can occasional end of with the US to your south and Mexico tot he north of the river . . . which just doesn’t seem right!

We travelled through one of those areas as we got close to the Dam.  That’s the US Border Patrol to our south.

We reached the Dam and turned around to head back upriver.

I thought we would see more wildlife along the river than we did, but we did spot a few Blue Herons and Egrets, several groups of turtles sunning themselves on logs, and a group of American Coots – which our tour guide said were also known as Mud Hens – hey, now I know where Toledo’s Baseball Team got their name!

We also saw evidence of the illegal border crossings that are a pretty regular event in this section of the Rio Grande Valley.

According to our tour guide, rafts like this one abandoned on the US side of the river are a common sight, and it’s not unusual even for him to see the Border Control boats chasing down these boats and turning them back.  This section of the Rio Grande Valley is actually one of the more active areas for illegal crossings, which is why it is targeted to get a border wall in the very near future.

Part of the problem is these businesses along the river – not just the Riverside Club, but also several campgrounds, like the Chimney Campground,

and some private homes, as well – like this one, built up high in order to survive the floods – but when the wall goes in, they’re going to find themselves on the wrong side of it.

For now, there are several camera stations along the river, some manned and others remotely monitored, keeping an eye on the activity.

Just a short distance downriver from the Riverside Club is the La Lomita Chapel, a historic structure that also happens to be in the area of land that is between the river and the designated site for the border wall. 

In the late 1800s, the Missionary Priests, the Oblates of Immaculate Mary, were travelling between their headquarters in Brownsville and Roma, often meeting at this point along the Rio Grande River where they ministered to the poor who lived along the river in both Texas and Mexico.

They established a mission at this location and gradually a small village grew around it.

Only the chapel remains today, and the land around it is maintained as a small park by a group of volunteers.  It’s a very pretty area, and hopefully some type of compromise can be reached to keep it accessible to the public.

There are several shrines to Mary in the chapel.

A very beautiful, peaceful place!

Since we were in Mission for the day, we made plans to meet up with RV-Dreams friends, Ed & Marilyn, at their site at Retama Village after our boat tour.  We met them at the Branson Rally back in 2008 . . . and haven;t seen them since then, although we are able to keep up with each other through facebook and our blogs.

We spent several hours visiting, and like it often is with RV friends, it didn’t feel at all like we haven’t seen each other in 11 years!

Thanks for having us over, Ed & Marilyn!

AS if Monday’s adventure wasn’t enough, we  went back to Mexico again on Tuesday with a group form the RV Park.

They mostly hang out at one of the bars, but Tom and I explored Progreso again,

and ate breakfast at the Bakery Cafe, while enjoying the sounds of a Mariachi Band!

It was a fun day, and I picked up several bottles of vanilla to take home for my sisters . . . along with a few other snacks, and some baked goods from the Bakery.

On Valentine’s Day, the RV Park had a potluck dinner, complete with music by Dave . . . it was a very nice gathering, and a great way to wrap up our stay!

We enjoyed our stay in the Valley this winter, and we’re glad we checked it out this year!  Once again, we saw new things, had new experiences, and met some more great RVers that are now our friends! 

What more could you want!?!

1 comment:

  1. Glad to read that you rally enjoyed the RGV this winter. I'm certain by the way you are dressed the Temperatures were comfortable.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


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