I wake up to my first full day in the Big Bend area. The stars go to sleep as the sunrise makes it’s way across the landscape. I sip my coffee and wait for the Far Flung Outfitters van to come pick me up, as today I’m river rafting the Rio Grande.
Seven a.m. and it’s not even thirty degrees outside. Each of us are bundled up in winter coats and gloves, with several additional layers underneath. This will not be your typical fun day playing on the water, but more of a cowboy adventure consisting of trying to survive in the harsh West Texas winter environment on the water.
I’m so ready for the challenge, as the mountains along the river have me inspired.
We launch, and our dreadlocks wearing river guide, Patty, tells us that today will be the last day that one can raft the river due to the low water volume. I learn that the river is controlled by a dam that is in Mexico. After today only kayaks will be able to go down the river until the Mexican government releases enough water to raise river levels high enough for rafting to make it down, which most likely will not happen for a few more months.
I find it fascinating that a river in the USA is controlled by Mexico, in fact it fills me with immense satisfaction that we don’t control everything, as much as we like to think we do.
Down we float, and for the next six plus hours I learn more about Texas history. One of the gents in my raft affectionately tells me that there is American history and then there is Texas history, and by the end of our float, I completely get what he means.
After an hour has passed, we take a quick break and pull our rafts onto the shore. I realize that we are on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, and at the same time Patty tells us that the two countries have an agreement whereas people floating the river can walk into Mexico (but not too far) without a passport. We go for a short hike through a slot canyon until we come to an old barb wire fence, the beauty of the Mexican countryside just beyond.
Lunchtime rolls around and we find a nice cave where we can eat and get warmed up with some of the best salsa I’ve ever had to sustain us. I talk with my fellow companions like old friends, sharing stories of our life and adventures.
As the trip concludes, my fingers may have turned blue from the cold, but my heart is overflowing with love and the warmth of Texas hospitality, the beauty of the surrounding scenery, and the unique off the grid lifestyle of the people down here in West Texas.