New Years Eve On The Rio Grande
There weren’t many girls out. The week before they would have been huddling close to their “hornitos de carbon” little buckets of embers to chase away the December chill that would trickle up the inside of a mini-faldita, like a novio manoso. Even in the mid 40’s it could get kind off cool outside, especially when the cuartito a girl could repair to with a client was just as cool as the outside was, if not more so.
And too, there weren’t many potential customers either. On both sides of the border, it was the losers at love that repaired to bars and whorehouses on Christmas Eve and New Years. And especially in Mexico, New Years Eve was not so much a party night as a time to be with family. To renew the carnal bonds that fed the soul as well as the body.
Besides the party had started early that morning, and by nine o’clock the streets had cleared; there were only private parties and family gatherings from now until the New Year.
This Valley boy was adrift at the time on the seas of love, with nothing planned, so why not mosey over to Reynosa, put in a little down time, see the girls, have a few cuayamas of Carta Blanca, and kick back. Cuajamas are Mexican quarts of beer, except they are not quarts, they are liters. I’m unsure of how many liters; just like the centigrade and Celsius and the decimal system as well as Military Time…They all leave me wondering why they can’t use English measurements that make sense. These good old English measurements were based on the body spans of a good size man, from inches to feet, yards, spans, fathoms etc. Sensible.
Not a big issue, but indicative of how much you can miss the simple things when you’re an ex-pat living in a strange land. In the Land of The Lost, it could just be you that is the lost one.
Sometimes the quiet times are the best times. In Mexico, the best seats are outside. So that’s where we sat, leaned back against the cinder block wall with the faded mural to our backs. The passing show passed in slow motion. The girls were our companions in spirit. For they had lost at love as well. Their sisters in the trade were back home in San Luis Potosi, Michoacan, Veracruz, Chihuahau, wherever they had come from. They had loving families to return to on the holidays; or at least families that would take them in. Or at the very least ones that would overlook their profesion desgraciada in exchange for the remittances that were sent each month.
It gets more sad yet, and worse still.
While many girls had children in Reynosa with them, others had left them with relatives, ex- husbands, or god-parents down south. They would only see them a few times a year; some had not seen their children in many a year. This sort of thing leaves gaping holes in the hearts of women. More so than men, who, at an early age have come to terms of a sort with much of what they have lost.
My Ex-Pat buddy takes it all in stride. He is always happy to be in Mexico, where he is still someone. Where he can talk to a girl, and not be shunned or pitied…Where he still can make an impression. Many times he is called “licenciado” which means attorney or professional person. In the U.S, he is called “Old Washed-Up Bum”. Even the not so great times are good in Mexico for him.
The night moves along over revelers and mourners, through it all always ends in the mornings light. Is the compound walled to keep respectability out? Or is it to hide the towns sins away? Yes this piece of real estate had the walls of a prison, and one must pass the guards to come in, or to go out. Life moves on, and so do I, back to the Valley and my little ranch. My Ex-Pat friend only lives up the road.
As I cross the bridge The ICE or CBP agents are their usual morose professional mechanical selves. Firecrackers are going off like machine guns at the Mexican customs just across the Rio Grande.
Born in Houston, Texas and moved to Raymondvile, Texas in 1969. Family bought a radio station and helped with the family business until it was sold in 1997. Since then started an agency and mostly writes about experiences in Deep South Texas. Writers of the Rio Grande founder, editor and contributing author.