Sunday, April 11, 2010

Greetings From Columbus, New Mexico

Columbus, New Mexico is a town with a history. With its claim to fame being the 1916 attack on the town and its military fort---Camp Furlong---by Pancho Villa and his band of Mexican invaders, Columbus has certainly seen its share of ups and downs. After being classified as a ghost town in the 1930s and losing its rail service more than forty years ago, Columbus is now a quiet town of 2,000, with many people going back and forth across the border to Palomas, its Mexican sister city only three miles to the south. The town's official website sums it up:

"Nowadays Columbus is a retreat from the daily pressures of a fast paced, dog-eat-dog, and inhospitable social climate that is prevailing in these uncertain times we're living in. The Village of Columbus offers the weariest of souls a real opportunity to rejuvenate, relax, re-center, and to quite literally "Get away from it all".

They are indeed quite right. There's not much to do here, really, but that's decidedly the point. A few museums, a few affordable restaurants, lots of cacti, and a relaxed atmosphere that is, as the young people say, "chill". It reminds me of a town on the southwestern tip of Portugal where I spent a number of aimless weeks in the autumn of 1985, and I'm experiencing that same sense of unwinding and letting go that I felt in those days under the Portuguese sun. 

Many residents of Columbus appear to be of Mexican origin, and we're reveling in the opportunity to speak Spanish, soak up the sun and dry warmth, and enjoy the wonderful two-dollar burritos at a little cafe just five minutes from the campground by bicycle. 

Our time here is a respite indeed, and will include a 3-mile bicycle ride to the Mexican border and a visit to Palomas, the aforementioned sister city of Columbus. This is a wonderful place to while away a string of uneventful days, and this is certainly just what the doctor ordered. 

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