With classes and activities available every hour of the day inside Bentsen Grove Resort, we wouldn't ever have to leave. We have visited the area around Mission, Texas, many times before, so we often think there is nothing left to see. But we still wander outside of our gated resort to experience a little more of the Rio Grande Valley. One of our trips took us to the Don-Wes Flea Market. This market gets its name from its location between the towns of Donna and Weslaco. Here we bought honey, cheese, produce, birthday cards, a bicycle light, a billfold, kettle corn, dishes to replace our broken (and discontinued) Corelle plates . . . It's a multi-dimensional market that is always busy. In case we should tire of shopping, there is often entertainment in the courtyard.
Some people say that the Don-Wes Flea Market is filled with winter Texans. For a more local experience, we were told to go to the market in Penita. It is actually called "Pulga." From our Spanish class, we now know that pulga is the Spanish word for "flea" and we seemed to be the only non-Spanish speakers at the flea market in Penita.
It was almost as if we had suddenly slipped south of the border, as all the signs were in Spanish. After communicating mostly with hand gestures, we bought some produce, then headed to the food stalls. We couldn't decipher the menus, but we saw people carrying around these odd sticks.
We determined that was a potato cut with a special spiral cutter, then deep-fried as one huge french fry--or maybe it is a "spanish fry" in this case. We didn't know exactly how to place our order, so we stood in line and did some pointing and managed to get one. After slathering it with ketchup, some hot spicy sauce, and a little mayo, we enjoyed a new-to-us Mexican treat.
A little knowledge of Spanish is needed to understand many of the signs on local streets in our area. We now know that "elote en vaso" is corn on the cob. Here "tunas" are not fish, but prickly pear cactus.
We have gone to several festivals and expos since our arrival to the valley. Mission hosts a Citrus Festival, and we visited the booths on the festival grounds with Denisa's Mother, Betty.
Instead of using tissue paper, this parade is famous for floats that are decorated with slices of the valley's citrus fruits. Because of the prediction of rain, we didn't go to the parade. But we did see the shoe-box-sized floats decorated by local elementary students.
It's a busy season of fairs and festivals here in the Rio Grand Valley. We are at the peak of the winter Texan migration, with the maximum number of snow birds flocking away from the cold weather up north. We have also found that many entertainers come south for the winter. People that normally hang out in Branson or Nashville during the summer, book shows all up and down the valley in the winter. Large resorts like Bentsen Grove host programs several nights each week during peak season. For around $7, we can enjoy some great entertainment without even leaving our park.
The most expensive ticket of the season is Molly B. The queen of polka music, she played around twenty different instruments before the evening was over. She only had two shows in the Rio Grand Valley, so the seats were all full that night. The largest instrument she plays is the alphorn, which took up most of the stage.
During the winter season in South Texas, Denisa is a happy camper because there is a dance at our park every Friday night. In fact, it's easy to find a good dance any night of the week down here! So we've been two-stepping and toe-tapping our way through an entire month here in the Rio Grande Valley! Sorry that the blogs are so infrequent, but we're just too darn busy having fun!