Traveling Along with Steve & Jan

March 2008

Parades, Festivals and Fabulous Friends



My how time flies when you are busy and having fun.  It is wonderful to have stellar weather to greet you when you get up in the morning - we are speaking of South Texas.  We have a bonus factor for staying in the Rio Grande Valley and becoming a Winter Texan.  We have the opportunity to reconnect with friends that live permanently in the Valley and those friends that come to the Valley just for the winter months.   


Joe and Carol Mottet, from Brighton, Iowa, come to the Valley during the winter months.  Our friendship goes back almost ten years.  We met the Mottets when we volunteered in an Iowa State Park where Carol was a Ranger.  The Mottets and we had a great time watching the Mission Citrus Fiesta Parade.  Citrus – plastered floats lit up the dark streets during the 71st parade held in Mission, Texas.  Over 200 floats celebrating limes, grapefruits, oranges and other fruits drew thousands of people along the two-mile parade route.


Many cities sponsor parades and festivals during the months while the Winter Texans are living in the Rio Grande Valley.  Reynosa, Mexico, a sister city of McAllen, Texas, sponsored a Winter Texan welcome back festival in their city.  Hundreds of people flocked to the city’s Republic Square to participate in the city’s two-day celebration.  Vendors, such as a glass art demonstrator, displayed their crafts on the Square.  The food was plentiful and the booze flowed freely.  Attendees wandered around the plaza with miniature clay pots dangling from their necks looking for a free tequila shot.  All the pomp and pageantry was Reynosa Mayor Oscar Luebbert’s way of letting his neighbors to the north know they are always welcome in his city.  We dined at a delightful restaurant named El Pastor where the waiter snapped this picture of us.


While visiting Reynosa, during the Winter Texas Appreciation Day, the "cuchi-cuchi" girls performed on stage to entertain us.  I think some of the more elderly Winter Texans may have had to adjust their pace-maker after the performance of these performers.


This next photo to the right was taken in Reynosa in the "La Zona Rosa" tourist district. 

This is typical of a "border-town".  Lots of locals as well as tourists all compressed in

the shopping district.  Street hawkers, performers, lots of stores - all catering to tourists.  It's too bad that recently many of the Texas border towns have gotten a "bad-

rap", but crime does exist in Mexico.  The new Mexico President has sent the "Federalizes" to weed-out the corrupt local police departments.  We see there presence when crossing the international bridge.  They are clad in army fatigues and have their machine guns drawn at their sides.  To many, this is intimidating, to us, a welcome sight.  We feel safe walking the border streets in Mexico, although we are careful not to roam off of the main tourist areas nor be out after dusk.




For Valentines Day, the church where our RV is parked, The First Baptist Church of Rio Grande City, held a Valentines Day Dinner.  We played the Newly Wed Game where couples had to answer correctly questions about their marriage life.  Well, we were "neck and neck" with another couple when the tie-breaker question came out and we ended up second place.  All had a great time.  The picture below of us was taken inside of the recreation hall at the First Baptist Church.


A few years back, we had the opportunity to watch a bull fight in Mexico.  The performance by the matadors was magnificent.  The bull was brave and fearless to his death.  Steve enjoyed the performance.  Jan watched for about a half hour and excused herself.


In February, the final world-class bloodless bullfight was presented at the Santa Maria Bullring in La Gloria, Texas.  The bulls were from a northern Mexico ranch and were of pure San Mateo heritage (Spanish blood).  Instead of killing the bull with barbed swords, a rose is placed on the bull’s withers with a Velcro patch.  In the United States, it is illegal to kill the bull in a bull fight.  Joe and Carol Mottet had seen this bloodless bullfight a few years ago and wanted to see the performance again.  It was decided that we would all go together.  Jan was hesitant but decided she could “handle” a bloodless version of the art. 


For two reasons, a bloodless bullfight is very dangerous for the matador.  First of all, the bulls used in bloodless exhibitions are small and therefore can move very quickly in the ring.  Their size makes them agile and they can turn on a dime giving the matador little time to maneuver into position.  Secondly, these bulls have been deprived of female company.  These poor guys have the desire and the ability to “have fun” and procreate but are never allowed to have the opportunity to “have that special girl”!   This really makes the bulls angry and eager to make “someone pay” for his misery.


As the bullfight began, we cheered and yelled “Olay” as the matador enticed the bull to attack.  The matador strutted, twirled his cape and the bull attacked again.  As the performance proceeded, the matador mesmerized the bull by waving his red cape and the crowd yelled “Olay”!   At the proper time, the matador slowly and carefully approached the bull and grabbed the rose symbolizing the “killing” of the bull.  The crowd yelled “Olay”.  In the end, the matador is victorious.  The bull is alive and he marches out of the bullring thankful he is in the United States.  The crowd cheers and throws roses, hats, and handkerchiefs into the bullring for the matador.  We cheered and yelled “Olay”!    For a top-notch performance, the matador is awarded the symbolic two ears and a tail.  The four of us had a wonderful afternoon. 


Our volunteer position this winter has been interesting and very educational for us.  Los Caminos Del Rio’s mission is to "Preserve and Promote the Natural & Cultural Heritage of the Rio Grande Corridor".  We have made many successful contacts in the community.   Rio Grande City Independent School District will be integrating the information from Los Camino’s heritage book, A Shared Experience, in the middle and high school history classes.


Los Caminos del Rio opened its satellite office in Starr County Rio Grande City during the month of January. The office is named Frontera Chica.  The office is 2,000 square feet complete with a reception area, a 20' long mesquite wood conference table, and a fully equipped professional kitchen.  With a beautiful kitchen, we are working with local chiefs and grocery stores to develop cooking classes for community health groups and Winter Texans.


In our next addition, we will share with you some of our more memorable moments while volunteering in the best place to winter in the United States.


We will leave you with some of our favorite pictures from the past month.


Again, thanks for taking the time to "Travel Along with Steve & Jan".


Take care,


Steve & Jan