Sunday, April 28, 2013

Columbus, New Mexico, Part 6: Going Over to Puerto Palomas



Fictional meeting between Generals Pershing and Villa, Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico

I crossed over to Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico, twice while I was in Columbus, New Mexico.

There's a parking lot right by the border and you can park your car and walk over, which is what I did. By the parking lot is a "duty-free" shop that sells liquor and, I think, perfumes, and I guess tobacco products. A white-haired gentleman chauffeurs parking-lot visitors in a golf cart to and from the duty-free shop. This service is likely due to the average age of most U.S. visitors over the border here, which is to say, 60s and older.

The duty-free shop displays the ubiquitous skull and horns of the Southwest.

The duty-free store by the Columbus, NM and Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua border crossing

You might say that Puerto Palomas is a medical tourism destination, what with Americans going over for cheap prescription drugs, dental work, and eye treatment.

Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico
  
Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico


There's also the much-ballyhooed Pink Store, which houses a restaurant and also a capacious warehouse of Mexican-made products including pottery, glassware, textiles, decorative items, etc. If you're lucky (and I was), a staffer will give you a free drink to enjoy while you browse through the store. I had a margarita.

Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico

Since I no longer acquire things for a home, I had only mild interest in the store's inventory, but I looked nonetheless, sipping my margarita and savoring the salted rim as I went. I admired the light and the color of this display room:

Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico




Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico




 



On my first afternoon in Puerto Palomas, I sat in the shade of the restaurant's patio while I drank a beer and talked with some of the PP regulars, who pop down every Tuesday for lunch and, as needed, drug replenishment.











I did a little exploring of Puerto Palomas beyond the Pink Store. Attended a funeral (noting the license plates of the bereaved not only from Chihuahua, but from Texas and New Mexico). Walked through a plaza. Walked by the border wall a tiny bit. I saw men gathered together and talking, playing a game, perhaps drinking; not much sign of women; vendors selling CDs, hats, sunglasses, street food, offering shoeshines. I saw some rehab work being done to a sidewalk, to a new business. Saw some businesses that had gone defunct.

I felt particularly attracted to an abandoned .. what? Mansion? Hotel? Restaurant? It was intended to be grand, and I was later told that it was to have been a casino, but construction ceased as soon as the drug cartels moved their violent stage to Puerto Palomas for a time. 

Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico

 
Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico




If it had opened, how many people would it have employed directly? How many people would have been employed by suppliers? How many others would have derived indirect economic benefits?















Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico






For now, doves are the only evident residents of the empty, beautiful building.   
















A slide show of Puerto Palomas:






13 comments:

  1. Interesting town with some bright spots of colors throughout. We have friends who traveled to Mexico for extensive dental work. They may have crossed here but I think they went farther south.

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  2. I've heard mixed reviews re: customer satisfaction.

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  3. I got to visit this little town 2 weeks ago. Got PRICES for vision care (which were good), but did not have anything done - but enjoyed my free margaritas at The Pink Store - immensely!

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    1. Mmm. This sounds delicious right now!

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  4. My grandfather is the white haird man that chauffeures people to the border. His name is AJ Taylor. Im actually planning my 3rd trip to Columbus and going to visit palomas again. My favorite part about this trip is we are staying for good. It is a very quiet community and i like that.

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    1. Taylon! Thank you for letting me know this! I hope he is doing well, and that you continue to enjoy living in Columbus!

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    2. Hi Taylon,
      Does your grandfather still meet people and take them across the border? I have heard he meets people at the free parking lot but I really don't know where that is. Where is it in relation to the customs office you go when you come back into the u.s. I want to make sure I can find him. Also, do I need to schedule in advance with him somehow? thank you and I need to know because that walk for me with a broke let would not be fun. Jason Biliter.

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  5. last year we stopped in Columbus and visited the Pancho Villa state historic park there which I really enjoyed, being a history buff.

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    1. I'm glad you also enjoyed Columbus!

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  6. I Actually grew up there for a few years took me 15 years to go back and I enjoyed a lot of the changes, some good but others bad. It's my home and will always love it. it has a lot of history.

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    1. I think Columbus must have unique powers of attraction. I'd like to revisit.

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  7. I used to go to Palomas Mexico with my grandfather way back in 1974 I remember Palomas very well my grandfather knew everybody there and especially I believe their name was Pete and Tilley that owned the Supper Club on the corner and all the rest of the buildings on the one street that was dirt at the time they were so kind and generous feeding us and dining us then we would go down the street to this little Cantina Bar and listen to some guitar music from the girls that work there I have many fond memories of Palomas...

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    1. Gosh, I love reading your good memories! Thank you.

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