Section 11: Langtry to Del Rio
Our rental vehicle has been funneled through a Border Patrol checkpoint every morning for the past three days while we return to where we left off. It's a permanent traffic checkpoint and the same guy has been on shift. He stops us for a couple seconds, asks us if we’re American citizens and if our day is going well. Then we move along because well we’re white women. As our driver, Sarah has been going through 4 times a day and has told our story in increments to the agents. They are polite but mostly uninterested in us beyond the scope of their job.
When we finally reached the facility on foot we passed through unchallenged. The long approach allowed us to scope it out from afar and we watched them move through car after car, waving some through easily and spending more time on others. It’s difficult to imagine what possible criteria they use other than the obvious racial one.
The terrain was rolling with scrubby cover. Goats roamed free on the surrounding hills and we were kept entertained by their goofy faces popping up unexpectedly from behind bushes. They must be free range, just bouncing around with no one paying much attention to their mischievous play. Large gates dotted the uniform barbed wire fencing announcing the “so and so” ranch. We followed a Border Patrol side road next to the highway, happy to put some more distance between us and the semis.
The last couple miles were spent hoping for Sarah to rescue us and whisk us away. We were so tired. It’s been a long stretch, the longest by far on this trip, and we were completely frazzled. We’ve been on the move since Presidio and haven’t had a second to process anything, from the state park, from Big Bend, from the Lower Canyons, from Langtry. So much has happened. We have had so many people come out and support us in this section and we’ve seen some of the most beautiful stretches of country. It has been absolutely amazing and exhilarating and rewarding but now we need a break!
And then we saw Sarah! She pulled up with a big smile, ready to share whatever energy and encouragement we needed. A week ago when she joined us, she took one look at Claire’s ratty attire and expressed some concern about how we would look on camera. She was more diplomatic about Tenny’s barely functioning pants but still politely suggested that we might benefit from a shopping expedition ASAP. Mom knows best! We had enough civilization left in us to shower first then we headed for the mall. The options were overwhelming and we felt drowned in the crowd and bright colors.
Where was our river?
Somehow Tenny found her pants and Claire found her shirt. We are fit for the public again! Leaving the mall we were distracted by a Border Patrol recruitment stand. The posters depicted gritty, determined “frontline” soldiers and ignored the more boring or distasteful parts of the job. From a distance you would think it was military. We are always curious about public perception of Border Patrol along the border. They seem unpopular but they’re also a major employer in many of these small towns.
Do they get many applicants?
An unexpected but very welcome surprise tonight! Back in California when we joined the Border Angels for a water drop, we met Han, a kick-ass lady pursuing a nursing degree and trying to fit in as much hiking as possible. In 2017 she set a goal to hike every peak in the San Diego area in one year and actually made it happen! She was on her way to southern Texas and Del Rio was directly in her path.
Did we want to meet up? Hell yes!
We grabbed some dinner and caught up on the last several months. Crazy to think we last saw each other in California in November during the first week of this trip. We feel like different people. Thank you Han for finding us and for caring enough to meet up!