Big Bend National Park 4: Hot Springs Encounter (Travel Date Feb. 2013)

I decided to check out the park’s famous natural hot spring after dinner.   It was pitch black by the time I started walking to the spring around 8 pm.  Shining my headlamp in all directions revealed 40+ foot tall palm trees, a concession (closed), a bath house, and the hiking trail.  I walked for 10-15 minutes before reaching the spring.

Mexican Souvenir Stand along the Rio Grande

Mexican Souvenir Stand along the Rio Grande

Along the trail I found self-service souvenir stands placed by Mexican nationals who illegally cross the river.  Park Service literature conspicuously warned visitors against buying these items, as both the Mexican and the US citizen can be prosecuted under federal law.  There seemed to be no enforcement, however, as even minimal effort by the Park Service or Border Patrol could eradicate these little stands in a hurry.  Price lists were written on cardboard in misspelled English.  Scorpions, walking sticks, spiders, and snakes made from wood, pipe cleaners, and other improvised materials were displayed next to a money jar.  The brightly colored rocks fetched the highest prices.

Passing on the useless knickknacks, I stepped into the warm, clear hot spring pool.  After a few minutes I noticed a

flashlight slowly descending the river bank on the Mexican side about 100

Mexican Souvenir Stand along the Rio Grande

Mexican Souvenir Stand along the Rio Grande

yards downriver.  The light disappeared when it reached water level.  Perhaps 10 minutes later a barefooted Mexican appeared on the trail and stopped in front of the hot springs.  Not knowing who I was dealing with, I switched on my headlamp at high power, deliberately shining it in his eyes so as to put him off balance, size him up, and let him know I would not be intimidated.  We then exchanged friendly “hellos” and he went on his way, checking the souvenir stands.  I never saw him again.  About 20 minutes later 4 flashlights momentarily came on from the top of the high cliff overlooking the hot springs.  The lights were pointed toward me, but not powerful enough to reach me.  I wondered who I would run into on my way back to the car, but saw no one the rest of the night. 

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About Jerry
Working in Corporate America for many years, I wanted to break free of the office walls for a bit and explore the world. Having put the pieces in place, I am first exploring the USA by road. Colleagues and friends expressed interest in my travels, giving rise to Office Escape. It is my honor to share my adventures.

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