Feature Story

Ingenuity and International Trade

International Trade

When walking the Boquillos Canyon Trail in Big Bend (or many other trails that lead along the Rio Grande which divides the US and Mexico in Big Bend) one will find these seemingly unattended shops along the trail consisting usually of walking sticks and wire sculptures. You will find a price list (everything is $6.00 except the wire scorpions which are $8.00) and an honor jar where you can make your payment. In the background on the Mexico side you will see a canoe and the shop owners sitting in the shade waiting for someone to make a payment. They then paddle across, retrieve the money and hastily return to their country. As I continued I began to hear Mexican folk songs echoing through the canyon. I looked around and noticed a man in a red shirt and cowboy hat across the river standing with his donkey singing. A few steps further there was a jar on the trail side labeled "Donations for the Mexican singer Jesus". I dropped a dollar into the jar and Jesus mounted his donkey, rode down to the river bank and paddled across the river to retrieve his earnings. I continued to hike up the canyon and continued to hear the sound of a donkey, then Jesus singing, the sound of the donkey, then Jesus singing...again and again. I wondered how Jesus knew that someone was entering the canyon so I hiked back out and sat near the original walking stick shop and watched. I noticed that each time a new hiker would approach the canyon the walking stick people would slap their donkey on its ass and the donkey would start making its donkey noises alerting Jesus (who was many hundred of yards further up into the canyon and around a bend) to begin his serenade.

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—The JPG team

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