With the widespread development of Padre Island and the most recent visitor to the area — SpaceX —Boca Chica Beach has lost its luster and slipped into a Cinderella character.
For many years, Boca Chica Beach afforded Valley folks the nearest and most accessible beach before the building of the Queen Isabella Causeway at Port Isabel. The causeway was completed in February of 1954.
Allow me to take you on a journey to Boca Chica Beach that will rekindle the spirit of yesteryear.
Located at the end of state Highway 4 out of Brownsville, it extends from the Rio Grande on one side to the Brazos Pass on the other, about eight miles in distance.
On weekends my dad would take us to the beach, which brought instant smiles, as we knew that playing on the beach was a mood-changing experience.
From my vantage point, it was a brush with nature that left lasting impressions, and the ride then seemed longer than today — but it was all worth it. You knew you were close to the beach when you could smell the fragrance of the sea breeze.
Once we got close to Brownsville’s Four Corners you could see the exodus of cars heading to the beach on Highway 4. The highway was completely paved by the summer of 1930.
For those families that did not own a car, hitching a ride with a neighbor was always a possibility. We all got along!
Once you arrived, it was a common rule to park side by side, and that was generally followed, but there were always some who decided differently.
We had the freedom to run as far as the eye could see and enjoyed a game of hide and seek on the giant sand dunes — with peals of laughter, I might add.
We were there until the face of the sun disappeared. But sometimes on a moonlit night we stayed in place to enjoy the splendor of sleeping under the stars.
In those yonder years, Boca Chica Beach went unnoticed to the rest of the Valley. It was Brownsville’s beach — the people of Brownsville owned it. Today, piece by piece, we are losing our connection to nature, and our most popular recreational sanctuary.
Elon Musk, who is clueless about our history, along with local government officials, are redefining the rules and boundaries as to when we can visit our beach.
Up to this point, all we have gotten from SpaceX is explosions, and the most recent one, according Musk, was a successful one. How do you figure that? At this juncture, we all should be expressing glances of concern.
And do not be surprised if one day our billion-dollar friend will own Hwy. 4 and develop Boca Chica Beach to his liking, at which time we the people will have no access to an area that once served as our natural playground.
Today’s digital kids will not have the opportunity to smell the scent of the ocean breeze, but instead will be exposed to rocket fuel. The future will reveal how much return we will earn from this investment, but for now, we must put up with the obvious.
The truth is that this region is the poorest in the country. It continues to embrace the concept of taking from the poor, through tax abatements, to give to the rich. Does that make any sense to you?
There is one thing that Elon Musk cannot take away from us: our priceless souvenirs, the memories of our outings to Boca Chica Beach.
See you at the beach — the other one!
Rene Torres Brownsville