Section 7: El Paso to Fort Hancock
Today felt like spring!
Has a season already passed?
We were in farm country and everyone was out and about working their land. Big, beautiful tracks of land set aside for rows of slender pecan saplings. When you looked down an aisle you could see the first individual trees separated by a perfect eight foot block of space, but the rest all tapered together into one final tree. The optical illusion was mesmerizing and kept catching our eyes throughout the day. A tractor patiently moved up and down the aisles, methodically grooming the path in a perfect pattern.
The bees were out checking on all the available flowers. On our way out of Fabens we saw a small local business, Ceballos Honey Farm. This should have clued us in on how many bees we were about to see. We walked within ten feet of eight beehives and if we hadn't been consumed by conversation we may have better noticed the bees whizzing by our heads.
Green was everywhere.Green fields, a foot of new growth at the top of every pecan tree, plants surrounding the canal banks. A grungy green tank of fertilizer labeled sulphuric acid. Patches of green grass. Even the canal’s water was green.
Flashing lights in the distance announced the arrival of Border Patrol.
We weren’t prepared for the onslaught of six total BP vehicles. What's up guys?
The first agent who arrived on the scene said a rancher had seen us walking and called us in. He then asked what we were doing and demanded to see our IDs. We bristled. As we located and presented them, Claire asked if we were legally required to show them. The agent didn’t really answer the question, only replying that we were only a mile away from the border. He pointed but we didn’t bother to look because well we know. We are trying to move through as respectfully and peacefully as possible so we didn’t push further. Tenny’s passport easily passed inspection but Claire’s state ID had to be taken back to the car and called in.
While we were waiting, a couple more agents pulled up and wandered over to speak with us. They were surprised to hear that we were about to head into the Forgotten Reach. One of the new guys chimed in, telling us the section ahead was bad and he wouldn't recommend going in there. An off duty agent had recently dared the remote area and had a gun pointed at his head by a rancher. Not to mention the constant drug trafficking. He bluntly stated, “I hope you have your wills prepared.” Ugh. By this point Claire’s ID had been called in and the scene we were making calmed down. We left feeling extremely uneasy, that didn't go great.
We’re staying at the Fort Hancock Motel and have to put in a quick plug for the owner, Smiley. Talk about a kind person who’s willing to help (if you ask). Not only did he pick us up on the side of the road, after dark, but he gave us a tour around Fort Hancock and drove to the POE, which was about to close down for the night.
Who knew POEs close at 9 pm?
Smiley runs a nice albeit slightly run down hotel and you should definitely stay there if you're passing by on 1-10. It’s a popular spot for cyclists given its location and we were lucky it exists!