A Car Is Shiny, But A Burro Is Sure

Nat Geo 1/68

Such is the caption in this 1968 Nat Geo, as I call them. Evidently, it was a common practice for motorists to attempt to cross the Rio Grande River at its low points in fall and winter, though I would personally advise to NEVER ford a river by car. Yes, the wheels get wet, but so does the engine.

Cue the enterprising young Mexican boy on the burro, who offers round trip rides for 75 cents to get across the river. Often, they neglect to mention that a dirty half-mile ride to Boquillas then awaits them. If they have another 75 cents.

But what do they do with the CAR??

Why I Hate Cliffs

I don’t understand people who enjoy cliffs. I don’t get it. I need Wide. Open. Spaces. A place to breathe. This cliff is like a skyscraper all up in your face, forcing you to crane your neck like a tourist in NYC. As Debra Winger said in Urban Cowboy, “For-GIT it!”

Nat Geo Jan ’68

The pic is actually the US of A on the left and Mexico on the right. Pretty much looks like there already IS a wall, with that whopping slab of 1500 ft high limestone in Santa Elena Canyon. Nothing about that two-day Rio Grande float those folks are on looks appealing to me in the SLIGHT-est.

Here’s a more modern-day image of the same canyon.


Still looks terrifying and creepy and like all the weight of that limestone is gonna come crumbling, tumbling down upon those fragile little canoes.


Forgit it.

Starter Bartering

National Geographic, June 1968
National Geographic, June 1968

Barefoot Mexcaltitán pre-schoolers practice the art of the bargain as Luz Maria gets aggressive toward Green Dress, whose lowball offer for their fruit has insulted the entire Ruvalcaba family. Twin sister Martha Estella bears a bowl of coquitos de aceite on her head, patiently enduring the exchange and the heated voice of the alpha twin.

Where Sombreros Are Born

Ever wonder how it is that every full-service Mexican restaurant has ample sombreros to place upon each birthday patron’s head? Now you know.

Mexico City 1911, Underwood & Underwood
Mexico City 1911, Underwood & Underwood

These milliners are ankle deep in straw hats of different weaves. Do you own one, tucked into the back of your closet? No? Have you ever been the lucky sap beneath the hat at a Mexican restaurant? I have. At the place we patronize each Sunday after church, they chant a generic name to the birthday boy or girl. “Happy BIRTH-day, Panchito, Happy Birthday to you!” And then Panchito gets complimentary fried ice cream.


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