Where is Brownsville and The Rio Grande Valley?

The map below shows in blue the approximate area of whereThe Valley is located.  Brownsville is at the very tip.


This story was taken from the previous version of my site.  It was written when I still lived in New York. 


Upon my return to Texas, I found peace for a good number of years and have enjoyed success despite some of the trying times we all go though.  It was good to come back, even though living in San Antonio has never really felt like home to me.  I'd lived in the Valley and Laredo the last two times I'd been here.  Having come from New York City, thereafter spending a couple of years in Nashville, Tennessee, I've been changed.  I don't know how I would feel living in a small town.  San Antonio feels very small to me even though it is over 1 million in population.  Every place seems small next to New York.  It just went on forever, so it seemed, when I was out and making my way around the subways and the inner boros.  Texas hasn't changed, but I have.  No longer the frightened child I used to be, I am now the admiral of my own fleet, so to speak.  I picked up that east coast brogue while I lived there, and still spending a few hours per week on the phone with contacts and friends, I never lose 'the talk.' That's made me kind of an item here.  I am no longer the nice white girl from the Midwest.  I am the now the weird blonde who is 'obviously not from here.'


It's strange, but I feel like I was dead and buried all of the years while I was away.  Like something that was resurrected out of 'Pet Cemetery,' it's me, yet I'm not the same, nor ever will be again. As I like to say: They sent me to hell. I got a T-shirt that says "I Love NY." Now I'm back and I'm pissed. 


One thing I will share here is that you really have to be careful who you let into your life. Be prepared to cut ties sometimes, because when your life and situation improves, sometimes your so-called friends don't like it, and they want to cut you down--they want everything to stay the same.  People come into our lives for a time, but when they can't be happy for one's improvement, that's when to let go and walk away.  Sometimes that goes for family members as well, sad to say. 


In 2008 a couple of people wanted me to come and see them in Brownsville.  I declined the invitations.  Revisiting the Valley after 13 years was a quiet experience I wanted to have by myself--I knew it would be a personal and emotional visit, and it was something I wanted to keep to myself without any sort of interference.  In September of 2008 I visited Brownsville.  I was surprised by how much everything had changed since the 90's.  Buildings and stores had gone up in places which were nothing but fields in the past. The old familiar Route 281 took me on a journey of both moment and long ago as I looked to my right, heading north, and seen all of the new plats and stores along the road.  I had the radio playing soft and some song came on, I can't even remember what it was now, but it reminded me of a much happier day.  Over the years I dreamed numerous dreams of walking along this road, searching for something--perhaps the parts of my soul lost along the way.  Having this time to reconnect with all of the feelings of long ago was a very grounding and sort of finalizing sensation.  I had time to think about a couple of people who had been out of my life for a very long time, and I was glad for it.  They’d meant me harm from beginning to end. That thought of them was gone from me in a blink, as quickly as it had come.  Nothing and no one bad or to my disliking was in my landscape nor would I allow such people to be a part of anything I held sacred and dear; it was only me and the land, the fields sprawling before me, along with the ghosts of all who had passed over them.  For just that time, I found myself completely happy and whole once more. 


I had come home to the old dirt road. 


Leaning against the side of my car I looked out over the fields, so far into the flat distance I could see mirages where the sky and the land meet on the horizon.



The Rio Grande Valley is home to many farms producing citrus, sorghum, corn, cotton, avacados, ochre, and other crops which can be turned out three to four times per year.  The land is flat, and lower valley is lush and green with a tropical climate and atmosphere. 

   Mexican immigrants usually harvest the crops as well as plant them for a small amount of pay.  Work is scarce here—there aren’t any big factories—except for Levi, and I believe they went out.  Most plants or factories are located across the border in Mexico and make use of cheap labor and low operating expenses. 

  The free trade did seem to generate a little more activity along the border when it was passed, but by far, it is generally a very oppressed area.  When I was living there in the Eighties...ends never met!  I walked to most places I needed to go, got a ride with someone, or took a bus or taxi.  I worked 60 hours per week sometimes, but was never compensated for overtime.  There were a number of times I found myself tired, hungry, and penniless as the immigrants or illegals who scraped up just enough to survive.  It was no life for the undereducated of any race!  Trying get the education was another hurdle.  Even though the community colleges in Texas are free, it is still required to pay books and lab fees.

  Most of the people in the Valley are middle class to very poor, the very poor being the largest of the two groups. 

  Unfortunately, due the suffering and oppression, many turn to illegal activities from importing/exporting goods which are unaccounted for as well as drug trafficking.  Over the years, drugs have become a very big problem.  They are piped up through the Valley and spread over North America.  Many of the people who process the drugs just get tired of being poor, and turn to this, feeling they have no other alternative.   It’s a perplexing state of existence.

  When I lived in Brownsville, I always felt a strange ‘energy’ there.  It was always as if some huge force was wrapped around the entire area.  Part of  it was like the past clinging to the present; an old world attitude and grace, refusing to give way to anything modern, sucking back the days which lie ahead.  Eternally 1925.  An assortment of many ghosts haunted without relent, and if you didn’t believe in them, they were determined to change your mind.  The other part was like the spirit world overflowing into the present; there was light but no sun, air but no breath, the presence of people who had no forms.  The two worlds, one real, one imaginary, seemed to lie within one another.  I never felt anything like this until I was in New Orleans.  It was much more vast and intense there, but the same feeling.

  I loved the country in Brownville.  This consisted of small farm communities such as San Pedro, Los Indios, El Ranchito, and others.  This was the area I wrote about in The Blue House.

    Most of the people who lived in these areas were  Mexicans who had settled there for a number of generations as well as new imigrants.  The biggest problem about living in the country was the wet-back factor.  A lot of rough characters would come across the river, rob and kill homeowners. I didn’t read about this happening too often, but when it did, it was terrible.  In any case, you have to keep an extra sharp eye on your property and belongings. 


  Outside of this, I must say my time spent in the country there was wonderful, (for the most part) and has been  one of the happiest memories of my life.  I had some friends in El Ranchito I used to visit, and I loved it there.  It was a beautiful and peaceful place which will always have a very big piece of my heart.