Today we took an hour's drive all the way to the far end of the park to another canyon on the Rio Grande.
Boquillas is Spanish for "little mouths" and may refer to the many small indentations in the canyon walls. Like the trail beside Santa Elena Canyon, this trail first climbs up to overlook the river, then slopes back down to the river's bank.
As we came down to river level, the path wound through a lovely patch of greenery, including a tree whose spidery limbs were bursting with small yellow flowers.
While we were above the river admiring the view, we noticed a canoe and a couple of Mexican men on the opposite river bank. I had read about people leaving souvenir trinkets on the USA side of the river for tourists to buy. Sure enough, as we came out of the trees, a Mexican man at the river bank started singing a chorus of "Cielito Lindo" -- "Ay yai yai yai" to you gringos -- and encouraging us to buy a souvenir. It's technically illegal (and his singing wasn't so hot), so we brushed him off politely and continued on the trail.
Further on, we found some small painted stones on the riverbank. I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be for sale also; there was no container for money. One of them was inscribed "No Wall"; another said, "Bridges not walls." Also in the grass was a container next to a rock labeled 'Donations for singing Mexican "Jesus"'.
Across the river was a group of burros munching on the greens and sleeping in the shade. On our side, I found a cryptic artwork in dried mud and pebbles. I hope Irene appreciated the effort.
The trail petered out into a sheer cliff. We lingered near the river for a while, soaking in the serenity, before reluctantly turning back toward the car.
We had to pass by Jesus the Singing Mexican on our way back, and he succeeded in guilting me into a trinket. I chose one of the wire-and-bead scorpions for the bargain price of $5 and Jesus allowed us to proceed.
I set Scorpio in a place of honor on the dashboard for the ride home.
I was very tired and didn't feel up to the longer hike I had planned, so instead we decided to drive into the Chisos Basin, the one park area we hadn't explored. It's in roughly the center of the park and has a lodge and another visitor center. To get there, you drive through the only tunnel in the entire park.
We were somewhat amazed by the difference in the terrain, and the temperature -- we had climbed over 2,000 feet and it was quite chilly! Still a desert, but a really high desert.
The Basin has a well-known formation called The Window, a crack in the rock formations that exposes the plains below. The hike all the way there was too much for me, so we settled for a short "Window View" trail.
Later, after we'd returned from our day in the park, I was surprised to see Max and Penny sharing space in a recliner; they haven't slept together like this since they were kittens. But I should have known it wouldn't last -- Max kept crowding her until she'd had enough, and left him to sprawl on his own.