It’s June in South-Central Texas, and local watermelon farmers in Quemado, a small town between Del Rio and Eagle Pass along Highway 277 and the Rio Grande, are harvesting sweet, savory melons by the ton.
It’s always about this time of year that local vendors park their pick-up trucks loaded with melons along the busy roadways of Del Rio. If you’re like me, you drive past them every day and wonder who they are and how they make a living selling giant fruit on the side of the road.
Well, curiosity finally reeled me in when I was thinking of my next article to write about the unique and awesome culture of Del Rio. I decided to interview a couple of these local vendors to get a better idea of what exactly I’ve been missing on my way home from work every day this week.
I didn’t really need to send any formal invitation for an interview – I just happened to pull off Highway 90 near the Del Rio Middle School and end up at Dionisio’s watermelon truck. Dionisio has lived in Del Rio since 1957, originally growing up outside of Acuña. He sells his watermelons for anywhere between $3 and $5, depending on the size, and has been selling them for about seven years.
Dionisio fills his truck, equipped with a camper-top, full of melons for $390 from a farm in Quemado. When I asked him how much money he made from his sales, he replied, “Not much…but it [gives me] something to do”. Although not a man of many words, Dionisio explained that weekdays are not as good for business as weekends are. “If they stop [to purchase a melon], they stop. Otherwise they keep going,” he remarked as we watched rush hour resume on the highway, closing in on 5:00 PM.