Monday, March 10, 2014

A visit to Columbus and Palomas

La cabalgata binacional--the binational cavalcade
Last weekend we went with friends in our RV group to Columbus, New Mexico, for Camp Furlong Days. The event commemorates the raid on Columbus by Pancho Villa and his men in 1916, but the focus is purely on the friendship between the United States and Mexico. Riding on horseback from Deming to the north and Chihuahua to the south, Americans and Mexicans join together in a cavalcade, bearing the flags of both nations as well as New Mexico and Texas. Then gaily dressed people put on a show of singing and dancing in the small plaza, surrounded by a small audience of couple hundred people. And then after a few hours, Columbus reverts to its sleepy self.

Our RV in Pancho Villa State Park
A few steps away from the center of town is Pancho Villa State Park, where we hooked up our RVs. If you go to Columbus, plan on bringing your own entertainment. There is a small museum, but there are no motels, no theaters, and only two or three small restaurants serving Mexican food. Yet if you enjoy solitude, you'll enjoy Columbus.

Ceramic frogs on the wall in The Pink Store
Columbus is right on the border with Mexico. If you have a passport, drive the three miles to the border and walk across into Palomas. You'll want to visit The Pink Store--La Tienda Rosa--which you can't possibly miss. It has lots of ceramic crafts and gewgaws, inexpensive liquor, and a decent casual restaura
nt in back.

Señoritas waiting to dance
A couple of minutes' walk takes you to a dentist and a pharmacy. I have no experience with the dentists, but news from my friends has been mixed. At the pharmacy, they once sold me Mexican meds they said was the same as what I asked for. It wasn't. I walked past a barber shop where a young man stood in the doorway offering me a five-dollar haircut. The second time he asked, I agreed--what the heck, I needed one. Well, he went at my scalp with gusto. My friends were amused at the result, which was shorter than I'd have liked, but it will grow back.

There are some colorful people in Palomas, and many of them ask for a dollar if you want to take their photo. That's fair. There is a small group of very young children who dress up a few yards from the Customs office specifically hoping for tourists to pay them for photos, or just to pay them.

Musicians entertaining diners in The Pink Store
Columbus and Palomas are good places to visit, although they are out of the way of almost everything. If you're traveling through the region on Interstate 10, they're about a 60-mile round-trip detour.

1 comment:

Samantha Geary Jones said...

Oh, how I miss New Mexico! I grew up in Las Cruces & Albuquerque--I can still smell the roasting Hatch chili:)
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