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Boquillas, Mexico, a riverside hamlet of 90 people, sits a minute by foot across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park in Texas, a boundless tapestry of rock and high desert. Mexicans used to cross to work, buy supplies in the park or visit family. Americans would wade across the river to savor Mexico for a few hours. The border, at least here, was an abstract one that people on either side ignored. But that was before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Afterward, this part of the border was sealed.
The only thing entering the U.S. along this emerald sliver of the Rio Grande was the sound of 62-year-old Victor Valdez singing. His voice echoed across the canyon, his corridos telling stories of lost love and the fight to survive in a harsh, beautiful land.