There are no signs, markers or commemorations. Just a languid river passing through, bearing the scent and sediment of its nearly 1,900-mile journey before it expires quietly in the Gulf of Mexico.
A border comes to its end.
There are no fences or border guards, no migrants huddled along its channeled banks. Just a few fishermen on either side casting into the low tide of an early morning, equally stymied by an indifferent catch.
“Nada,” said Juan González of his quarry, echoing the deflated sentiment of his counterparts angling on the American side.
For Mr. González, a gas station attendant from nearby Matamoros, the border was an afterthought.
“I guess from here it’s pretty easy to cross,” said Mr. González, who comes to fish the river’s estuary twice a month and has never made the swim across. Never had any reason to, he said. “Here you don’t have walls and more walls like you do elsewhere.”
As the sun burned away the morning haze, a large white surveillance blimp was visible in the distance.
For José Jesús Espinoza, who sat at a migrant shelter an hour’s drive away in Matamoros, getting back over the border was all that mattered.
His deportation from the United States earlier this week brought him back to Mexico for the first time in 15 years. The border now bisected his life, with his wife and three children still in North Carolina.
He would cross again, he knew that much. Legally, if possible. If not, given the current impasse over the border and migration, a wall would not stop him.
“We are going to cross one way or another,” he said, offering an incongruous smile. “I mean, we Mexicans have been doing that forever.”
Narce Gómez offers tarot card readings, herbal remedies and candles at a hierbería in Brownsville. Her clientele is largely Mexican-American.
Just over the bridge, in Brownsville, Tex., Narce Gómez sat behind the counter of a hierbería, a store offering tarot card readings, statuettes of saints, herbal remedies and candles.
Her clientele is largely Mexican-American, a population whose predecessors carried their cultures with them across the border generations before.
And perhaps that was the problem. There was a time, more than a decade back, when the lines off customers formed out the door to enter such shops. Nowadays, they are closing, one by one, as interest wanes.
“Practically all of this comes from Mexico,” she said, pointing to the disquieting lines of Santa Muerte effigies that lined her shop. “It crossed along with the people a long time ago.”
Azam Ahmed and Meridith Kohut will travel the border for the next week or so, and will update this report along the way.