Lajitas – Voices From Both Sides

The immigration conversation gets a lot more interesting when both sides have a say.  It would be even more interesting if the U.S. government would listen to the people actually involved in that conversation.

What they would hear is, “yes, there are border problems elsewhere.  We don’t have those problems here.  We’d like our border crossing opened, preferably with a nice bridge, please.”

The people in this particular conversation are the residents of South Brewster County and our neighbors to the South.

You may call them illegal aliens or wetbacks.  Down here, we call them neighbors and friends.

The people of Lajitas – neighbors from both sides of the Rio Grande – came together to show their love, support, and willingness to work together to get the border crossing re-opened.

The unintended consequences of closing the borders have been devastating. Families divided, friends separated, economies adversely affected.

Simple things, like getting groceries, gasoline, or visiting grandma have turned in to multi-hour ordeals involving driving to the nearest “legal” border crossing and then driving back on the other side.

It’s time. It’s time to admit that we made a mistake and fix it.

hands across the border.
hands across the border.

May 11, 2013, the friends and neighbors who live in Lajitas, Texas held an event called “Voices From Both Sides.”

Local musician, bartender, and community leader Jeff Haislip ram-rodded the project.  Don’t ever tell Jeff there’s not enough time to get it done.

Jeff had a lot of help.  I know Collie Ryan was instrumental in coordinating things with the Mexican side.  Trevor Hickle provided and ran the PA system.  Maybe Jeff will chime in with credits.

There were bands playing live music on both sides of the Rio Grande, which is just a little stream at this point. There was food on both sides.

To be honest, the Mexicans kicked our asses – they brought a huge PA system. They had tents and pavilions. We had a small PA system and baked in the sun.

At first, we waved and yelled across the river. Then the frisbees and hula-hoops came out. Then, we started meeting in the river to talk… old friends hugged, new friends were made…

The Mexican band, apparently called “Mariachi,” played.  They had an authentic sound, with accordian, saxophone, guitar, bass and drum.  They played for a while.

Then, the Terlingua musicians played.  Jeff, George Goss, Collie, Charlie Maxwell, Trevor Reichman, Charlotte Teer… somebody remind me who else…


The music alternated from North to South.

By this time, all pretense of a border was gone.  Texans talked to their neighbors and friends on the South side, eating tacos and sharing beers together.  Children from both sides played in the water, drifting from one shore to the other naturally.

Then, the presidente of the town on the Mexican side made a speech, put down the microphone, and started walking across the river.

Bill Ivey, the closest thing we’ve got to a mayor over here, met him half way. They hugged.

Then, we formed a human bridge- hopefully to represent the stone and metal bridge that is to come.

The pictures tell the story.  For now, they are in reverse order.

Please use these pictures to spread the word.

You may use these pictures for non-commercial purposes, as long as you give photo credit to Pat O’Bryan and insert a link back to










hands across the border.
hands across the border.









































12 Replies to “Lajitas – Voices From Both Sides”

  1. It was one of the most heartfelt, beautiful, friendly, loving… events I have ever had the pleasure to attend. Thanks to all who made it possible. The photos are great, thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow! That was great. Wish we had been there. Will be there for graduation later this month. The recent border party was a lot bigger than the one held shortly after the 5 10 2002 middle of the Rio party held a couple of weeks after the BP raid on Lajitas around the trading post on a Friday payday afternoon when it was packed.

    Press On Regardless!!!!

  3. it came by complete surprise actually, my wondering into terlingua at this particular timing, I came to visit with old friends mike and Deborah from the crisis center and a bar b q at Theresa barkleys. well after hearing about voices from both sides for a day I knew I had to be involved in someway, I didn’t have any idea how involved I would become, as it turns out my friend bobby was to cook and serve the bar b que, I got to help and with so much pleasure,, we got to witness joy,happiness, love, and even sadness from a different view, we sat up on a sort of a hill in the cocoacola trailor and bobbys huge smoker sat very near by, of course we grew attention from the aromic smell of brisket,we heard conversations, saw expressions felt the emotion on an almost one on one encounter with each face we were blessed to meet that day, the lady who got to hug her brother from mexico? she glowed the brightest , between her and jeff one of them could have easily out shone the sun. bobby and i saw people in their moment as they got to take a step back from all the activity down the hill. a certain look in their eyes or a tone in their voice, said enough. my feet are still swollen, it’s Monday. I have blisters on 4 toes, I haven’t done much for months but sit and mope over my health,,the workout I got Saturday energized me like nobodys business,,,,I’ve never felt better in my life,,,my spirit is renewed, my heart beats in a rhythmic dance my happiness is all because of such excitement and knowing what a great day Saturday was on each side of the border for both sides, I don’t know my true heritage only what i’m told , but there aint nobody telling me i’m not kinfolk to the Mexicans ,because I still feel like I got to go home that day…. even if just for the moment………Brenda

  4. Thank u to those that made this possible! We were able to see our family without having to drive 3 extra miles. It was very nice and emotional. Thank u from the bottom of our heart.

  5. That s the way things should be. The crossing of the border is a shameful Border Patrol action (Gov Perry etc) that hurt all, both Mex, USA ones, tourism and local economy. Unfortunately open or no,t is DEAD for ever, as a Passport or Passport card needed to re-enter and Mexs can not come visit. CRAP !

  6. I think your photos from Voices are spectacular. You photograph people well. That is; you capture their mood well. In turn, you have captured the spirit of this wonderful reunion. Nicely done. Thanks

  7. You’re way better off without the government involvement in an “official” border bridge.
    Spectacular stuff, keep it up.

  8. Something we should all get involved with. Our borders here should be open so that those families will not be so isolated.

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