Year 1 Day 46 Dipping Our Toes Into Mexico
In 2015, we flew down to central Mexico and spent a week or so in Chapala, near Guadalajara to visit with our dear cruising friends, Portia and Steve, formerly of S/V Dream Caper. They gave us a wonderful tour of that area and we ate like kings and queens, loving the wonderful flavors that only the Mexicans can create. It was with that memory, of that visit, and the wonderful food we enjoyed so much that we decided to cross the border and visit Palomas, Mexico.
We did this even though some folks who live in New Mexico that we met at one of the rest stops yesterday, warned us that the village has been the spot of recent violence between drug cartel gangs. Before we made our decision to go, I did some research into the crimes affiliated with Palomas. I discovered that the US Government had issued this past June a Consulate Security Alert warning U.S. citizens that drug trafficking conflicts have recently grown more violent in the western region of the state of Chihuahua. Specifically, it wrote: “There is a likelihood of additional violence among drug cartels in the areas of Palomas, Janos, and Nuevo Casas Grandes.” It went on to state: “Information indicates this uptick in violence is likely to continue through the near future.” The alert mentioned that state police “recently arrested nine cartel members and discovered a large stash of weapons and drugs” in Palomas, across the border from Columbus, N.M.”
Now Mary Margaret and I are both risk takers. We strongly believe that life can be very rich; one just needs to stretch out of one’s “comfort zone” to taste it. We also believe that one cannot live in fear and paranoia of what might happen but, instead, assess the risks versus the rewards and make risk based decisions in living one’s life. In fact, this is something that everyone does. For example, each of us who drives a car makes this decision every time we hop in the car and drive down the road. We also do this when we decide to J-walk across a street or go swimming in a pool, creek, stream, river, lake or ocean. One can make this argument each time we stick our respective noses out of our front door. It is just that we are all comfortable with those risks we are familiar with as we walk down the road of life.
We kept this in mind when Mary Margaret and I discussed the recent drug based violence in Palomar versus the probabilities of something violent happening during the few hours we would be there. With that in mind, we decided to go ahead and get a little taste of the fruits that Palomar offers.
We drove the three miles to the border, parked the car and started to walk across the border. Once in Mexico, we poked our noses into an office to ask if we needed to clear in to be legal. We were told no. We just could walk right into the country, so we did just that!
Our goal was to go to The Pink Store, a large store that is known for selling Mexican crafts that come from all over Mexico that are very reasonably priced. Plus, it has a restaurant that we were told was renowned for its cuisine.
The store is only a short walk from the border crossing and soon we were looking at the wide variety of goodies that were being offered. We had great restraint from buying lots of stuff. Each time we were tempted, we asked each other: “where would we put it?” We did end up buying a few things as Christmas presents but, overall, did very well with our restraint.
We then sat down to lunch, each slurping down a very strong Margarita as we waited for our lunch to come. Actually, Mary Margaret had a few slips and passed her drink over to me. Whoo Hoo! Two for one!
While the food was OK, we decided that we had had much better at a couple of casinos we had eaten at up near Albuquerque. Over all, we were glad that we had come to Palomas but decided that once was more than enough.
On the way back to our campsite, we stopped at a local chili stand and bought a string of red, hot chilies. We had been told that the heat of these chilis is restricted to just the veins that runs down the inside of the pepper. As it turns out, this is correct. When I cut out the veins and just ate the flesh, it was totally without any heat. Go figure!
We then stopped at the original railroad station in Columbus, which is now a museum. The docents were an elderly couple with the husband claiming to be the local historian. I ended up being fascinated by the various stories he shared regarding Pancho Villa and the events that led up to, during and transpired after his raid on Columbus in 1916. He also shared that his grandfather, who owned the town’s drug store, was killed during the raid. The museum turned out to be another treasure trove of information and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
Tomorrow morning is the start of an antique car rally here at the Pancho Villa State Park. We hope to stop and see the old cars as we head out on our way to the Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona. We will be staying there for 4 nights and are looking forward to exploring the caverns and then, with luck, driving over to nearby Tombstone, where the famous gunfight between the Claytons and the Earps took place at the OK corral.