Section 15: McAllen to the Gulf
Fun day! How can it not be, we’re so close to the end! Zak and Corey arrive this evening and we have to churn out a full day of hiking before they get here. So of course we stopped only a few minutes into the day at a gas station in Los Indios where we could munch on a few more treats.. We staked out a place in the shade behind the Post Office and got a good view of Los Indios from the sidelines. There was a major road that interested Old Military Hwy and continued to a Port of Entry. Semi trucks clogged the roads and giant manufacturers accounted for most of the surrounding structures. This spectacle appeared out of nowhere in the middle of giant agriculture fields and nothing else. Odd, it’s always odd!
Five miles in we stopped at another gas station, this time with cold beverages on our mind. Claire was in need of her usual - blue gatorade - while Tenny felt the need to get a celebratory beer in light of the end of this trip. It’s been hard, okay! The store owner pulled a two gallon jug from behind the counter and topped off our water bottles. And he saved us by letting us use his private bathroom so we didn’t have to pop a squat in someone’s front yard. Private property isn’t very considerate of the needs of the passersby.
What tasks need to be completed in the next couple days?
It was an engaging way to occupy our time; we replayed the last 6 months as we thought of conclusions and stats we wanted to incorporate in our wrap up. Who, of all the many wonderful people we’ve met, did we need to alert about our proximity to the end? What final words do we use to thank them? How do we explain how well the communities and individuals on the border have treated us? How great this journey has been? And the day to day stats, could we compile a list of the quantity of gear we’ve gone through or the number of libraries and hotels we’ve been to, or the total miles hiked, etc, etc?
Our elation was interrupted by the reminder that we weren't done yet, vehicles were still speeding by at alarming speeds. We abandoned the main road whenever possible to walk along the perimeter of a nearby crop. Of course that came with its own set of problems. Without realizing the potential calamity ahead, we wandered farther and farther down a dirt path, skirting the growing irrigation ditch only to end up mired in ankle deep muck that did its best to suck the shoes off of our feet. When we emerged from the sludge about 20 lbs of mud came with us, plastered in thick clods around our shoes. We stopped at a pond to wash away the mud, sloshing our feet around in the mysterious, probably heavily polluted water, and attracting all kinds of curious stares from the road. Only 2 more days of this!
Surprise, the border wall is back. It appeared toward the middle of our day in its most substantial form - tall, metal bars that stood 20 vertical feet - which was a shock because we haven't seen this version of the wall since New Mexico. Along the wall was a BP road that we happily followed. The gravel road led us behind several backyards, through an area that was hidden from sight and next to an odd patch of land that was behind the wall yet not in Mexico. The wall is built at the levee line rather than the river bank so there’s a stretch of land in between only used by Border Patrol. Our excitement at having the road to ourselves wore off when it moved away from the highway and started feeling creepy. We passed what was best described as a clothing graveyard, an entire lot filled with discarded textiles that had matted together over the years, bleached and compressed from the sun and elements.
Was it related to the border in some way?
We moved back to the road, missing the feeling of safety that the road provided.
Zak and Corey showed up at the end of the day to pick us up. Friends! It was the most exciting part of the week and we were giddy with it. We drove ahead to Brownsville and found a tiny taco shop where we could catch up and chat about the upcoming finish. Just two more days! It's a hard thing to wrap our minds around.