What's in the desert? Life in a bordertown

Trip Start Nov 25, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Friday, February 2, 2007

We struck off for Columbus, NM/Palomas, MX, a border crossing about 80 miles away, across the desert on Highway 9, a lonely & deserted road through nothingness. Or is it?

I'm captivated by the desert/mountain landscape, highlands dusted with snow this weekend from the winter which clearly is waning (temperature will hit 72 degrees this week.)

Not much traffic on Highway 9. A couple of cattle crossings lend a "washboard effect" to the concrete.

Columbus, NM taught me that "border town" connotes "fringe" or "margin" or the opposite of "mainstream." People choose to live here in a difficult environment. Clearly they find something other than mainline U.S. culture to sustain them. The town's dirt streets don't offer much commercialization, nor many people. There's a school. For now. A good number of poor Mexican kids attend. I saw a schoolbus-load of them disembark at the border crossing. But in a year, when they need a passport to cross, they likely won't be able to afford that. And the school may close for lack of kids.

The border crossing in Palomas is the most casual I have experienced. No bridge and not much more than a gate in a fence-we entered Mexico apparently unnoticed. And as we exited, we had to look for a sign to tell us pedestrians to please stop into the U.S. office. Not a drug dog in sight.

The highlight of Palomas is "The Pink Store" a tourist stop that people drive from El Paso to visit. Filled with Mexican arts and crafts, it also boasts a restaurant and reputedly good margaritas--I'll try them on some future visit.
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