“We wrong another not only by what we do, or permit to be done, but in what we carelessly fail to do.”
As many of you already know, I don’t share much from other sources on my Facebook page. I would like to think my readers come here to get away from all the hate and divisiveness that is so distressingly prevalent on social media, to seek a slice of peacefulness and serenity in their hectic, sometimes heartrending lives. In my words and photographs, I try to bring some of this to you through my generational connections with the lower Big Bend.
This past week I was approached by two different ladies, Silvia and Vicky Sanchez, who are residents of Boquillas Del Carmen, Coahuila. For those who are not aware, Boquillas is one of the most isolated communities on our 1,954 mile border with Mexico. It is situated along the river, just above the entrance for Boquillas Canyon in Big Bend National Park.
On the Mexican side, the village is surrounded by a hundred miles of desolate nothingness to the east, west and south. If you are thinking the mountains are big and rugged on our side of the Rio Grande, they are more so in this part of Mexico. If you think the Big Bend is dry and hot, not as much as some parts of this region of Coahuila. And if you think that some locales in the lower Big Bend are or were isolated, you have not seen anything until you leave out of Boquillas.
Yes, I speak with some knowledge and ‘simpatico’ for this out-of-the-way place. You see, my great aunt and blood English kin Mag Smith lived here in the late 1950s. It was after she was forced out of Hot Springs and then San Vicente by the National Park Service.
The people of Boquillas welcomed her with open arms, and she stayed in their midst for about five years. She was treated far better by they and their government than she ever was by the NPS and ours. Aunt Mag has been gone for a long time now, but the kindnesses shown her by these people will never be completely forgotten by my family.
And now, the people of Boquillas are asking for help.
With the closing of the park going on for five months now, and the paved road to the Boquillas area on our side still not open, they are in dire straits. For some time now much of their economy has revolved around visitors patronizing their businesses and buying their hand crafted goods. If you think that people and businesses are hurting north of the Rio Grande, you cannot imagine what this somewhat feckless decision by the National Park Service has done to them. Furthermore, they do not have the numerous societal safety nets as we do in Texas as well as the United States.
Folks, the northern parts of Mexico are being devastated in ways and manners that has not been experienced since the revolution. Even the least informed norteamericano has some inkling of the daily brutalities and violence brought on by the drug trade, and the splitting of the cartels and ensuing turf wars.
This has also been as dry a year in their land as it has been for the Big Bend area, and their lakes and rivers have just about been drained dry. Businessmen, farmers and ranchers are watching decades of hard work wasting away like the bleached top soil in a summer wind.
And now the Covid scare, along with its natural consequences. The Mexican federal government and the state authorities cannot even begin to deal with the effects of the virus; their social services have been completely overrun. Survival in itself is often left to the ingenuity and sweat of the individual citizen. It is often enough all they have left.
The people of Boquillas are not asking for a hand out, that is simply against their code and sense of honor. But they are asking for a hand up, and that is why I am writing these words. I am also enclosing a photograph taken recently of the community to give you an idea of just how isolated they are.
We as Texans and Americans take pride in being good neighbors. It is time for us to rededicate ourselves to that great quality, and care for those who are far worse off than any of us.
Please take the time to look through these hand made goods,and share with others if you are so inclined.
May God bless each and every one of you,
Ben H. English
Front Street Books
Creative Texts Publishers
Crockett County Public Library
Medina Community Library
The Twig Book Shop
Old Town Books
The Boerne Bookshop
Hill Country Books
Marta Powell Stafford
Lone Star Literary Life
Hello all my friends, my name is Silvia Sánchez I live in Boquillas México, a town that is located across the Big bend National park on the other side of the river. Due to the national pandemic that we are going through, you cannot come to visit our town. Our town depends only on the income of the tourist, the reopening of the crossing is uncertain … we are trying to sell some of our crafts here. Anything you buy will be of great help to me and my family. He wants to buy some handicrafts, I will send you more information by message.. thank you .
Please help the community by Donations or purchasing these fabulous handcrafted articles. Than you 🤠🤠