Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Visit to Texas and the Ropas

My mom and dad spend the winters in Texas and I thought this would be a good year for a visit. We've had such cold weather that a trip way south was just the ticket. They live in Donna, TX, which is almost as far south as you can go right next to the Mexican border.

This is the entrance to their house. Dad is getting the golf cart ready to take me to see the leaf ants. I love these cute snowmen on the porch. In the background you can see our ropa haul getting dried on the line.


This is the view looking down the street from their porch. Some people live in "park model" trailers which are stationary, while others bring down their motor homes or pull behind RVs.



Mom and Dad have some other cute lawn ornaments. The donkey is carrying a bowling ball covered with red glass beads.



Dad has been planting papaya trees. Here he's picking some almost ripe papayas.


Then he lets them ripen on the porch railing.


Leaf ants. They run in a row carrying green leaves into a hole.


Now, back to the ropa. For those of you who don't know, there are big buildings near the Mexican border that process textiles. Sometimes these are called "rag barns" but the words on the building are "Ropa Usada" which means used clothing. They let the public in to paw through the piles before the piles are sorted and processed into rags or other things. It's like treasure hunting. You can find almost anything in the piles. I found the top to a wet suit, an Austrian wool coat, a wedding dress, hand made quilts, you name it. You just have to dig a while to find it. This is one pile in one of the ropas.


You actually climb the pile. Some people sit in one spot at the top of the pile and dig until they make it to the bottom. Once in a while I had a moment of claustrophobia thinking the pile might collapse onto me, but it didn't. We spent a lot of hours pawing around and came back with some pretty good stuff. They normally charge by the pound, anywhere from 25 cents to 50 cents or so per pound. That Austrian wool coat I found cost 69 cents.

When we got home we immediately took a shower and washed all of the clothes we wore as well as the stuff we hauled out of the pile.


I lugged home an extra suitcase full of ropa finds.

Every night my dad plays pool. We drove the golf cart over to the pool hall. I played with him the first night, but my shoulder is still recovering from all of that dry-walling last summer and the motion of playing tweaked it a little again.


Here's Dad (in the middle) with his pool hall buddies.


A trip to the trailer park wouldn't be complete without a home beauty treatment. I poured a little wine and Mom highlighted my hair. It turned out nice; it's subtle but gives me a bit of a look like I was in the sun for a minute or two.


It was a nice visit. The best part for me was sitting on the porch, listening to the birds, feeling a nice breeze, and actually seeing my bare feet for a couple of days (I haven't seen them since October).


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