Bored-er town birding

Here I am, with seven other quinquegenarian compadres, standing on a street corner in what has to be the most boring border town along the entire U.S.-Mexico boundary. It’s the perfect time for one of those Byrne-esque, “Well, how did I get here?” moments.

We got here as part of a January birding trip to south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley (Brownsville), and we had some time this afternoon to stroll across the river and poke around in Mexico. (What’s up with bird-watching in Texas in January? Let’s just say that 1) it’s 70 to 77 every day, which is nice, and 2) lots of birds think it’s nice as well. Certainly, nice enough. As a result, our merry band of bino-slingers picks off 194 species in a week).

So we walked across the international bridge that connects Roma, Texas to Miguel Aleman, Mexico on this ragtop day, thinking we might find something out of the ordinary going on, or at least a good cockfight. You know, just because we’re down here bird-watching doesn’t mean we wouldn’t get a big hoo-hah out of watching some miserable bandy rooster get his ass sliced, diced and turned into fresh fodder for some street vendor’s “Carne of Mystery” taco cart. (OK, that’s a chain-yank. What we’re really looking for, of course, is a good donkey show.)

We walk a few blocks into Miguel Aleman, and this place certainly has the look of a godless, depraved border town. It’s just … well, dammitall, we can’t even find a place to get a beer, much less watch macabre mammalian inter-breeding. It strikes us all as very weird indeed. El Zona de Twilight kind of weird. Finally, we spot a joint with no windows, no patio, just a door. We gird our loins, take a breath and walk inside. Who knows what Mondo Grosso secrets this saloon may be harboring, what sick abominations that would shock even Stern, Tarantino and Springer? We find out quickly. None. Nada. Zilchismo. We’re the only people in here, besides the young fellow behind the bar. We order a round of Carta Blancas and settle in for some savage partyin’, AARP birder-style. We’re ready to throw out toast after toast to the Brown Jay, the Great Kiskadee and the Clay-colored Robin, goddangit, and we’re ready to hang for 30, 45, hell, maybe even 60 minutes, so keep those light beers comin’, Zorro!

On the wall, there’s art. Well, cartoons. Some local who fancies himself an illustrator has drawn ’toons of some of his favorite regulars. While there is a slight language barrier, we can’t help but notice that in just about every drawing, the hero is unleashing some unholy flatulence upon the unfortunates standing near. In one ’toon, a bystander comments on the “terremoto” that has taken place, referring to the earthquake born in the villain’s desperate pants.

We soon walk back across the bridge to Roma, content to spend the night in our rooms watching The Simpsons in español.