Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kayaking the Rio Grande

What a thrill! This morning at 8:45 a.m. we met with two guides at the RV park, who take guests out on the Rio Grande for kayaking trips. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that these trips are offered free of charge to people staying at our campground.  Bob and I were the only ones who signed up for this trip, and we have been anxiously watching the weather reports all week because they had been calling for rain. But the day dawned cloudy and in the 70's, perfect weather for our outing.

We are only a couple of miles from the border here, so five minutes on a dirt road and we were at the parking area, which was a farmer's field. A friendly burro hung out by the gate, and I volunteered to be burro whisperer and keep him on the right side of the fence while Bob and the guides carried the kayaks through to the boat ramp. I didn't mind at all.

Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of the river because I was afraid to get my phone wet, but here is a picture that I ganked from the Dallas News.

We were on the Rio Grande for about two hours, and our guides entertained us with stories the whole time. They recounted finding a body, seeing alligators, and having Mexican soldiers with assault rifles suddenly appear on the banks, shouting orders which the guides could not understand.  We did see Border Patrol boats twice while we were on the water.  They were careful to slow down and not capsize us, and waved when they passed.

We learned a lot about illegal aliens today.  Apparently most of them are Guatemalans and Haitians, as the Mexicans can get one day shopping passes and just come over whenever they want. The cartels take all the money these people have and then point them across the river. Our guides spent a bit of time looking for life jackets that are used in these crossings and then simply discarded.  Other times the aliens will string jugs together and float across holding the jugs as a flotation device.  Since there are cameras all up and down the river, the Border Patrol simply sends out a helicopter and picks the unfortunate people up, processes them, then sends them back across the border to Mexico.

There was little current on the river and a light breeze, so paddling was easy. While we saw no alligators (or dead bodies, thankfully!) we did see Kingfishers and a heron. The water was too silty to see past about a foot into the water. All along the banks were tall reeds and cat tails. It was a lovely ride. I found myself thinking of my Dad and how he would have enjoyed this trip along the Rio Grande. It's a day I'll never forget.

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