Monday, July 22, 2013

Las Cruces: West Picacho Boulevard, Part 3: The Big Red Chile With a Surprise Twist


World's largest chile, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico


How big is that chile? It's so big, it's difficult to get a full-body picture of it, though this is mostly because the chile is in a protective courtyard, so getting the necessary distance from it is awkward.


World's largest chile, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico

 
Before actually visiting the chile, I'd driven by a number of times and kind of felt a little ho-hum about it, especially because from the road, you only see the chile's head and shoulders, so to speak.



World's largest chile, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico


But for my West Picacho Boulevard foray, accompanied by a friend, the chile was almost at the westernmost edge of the street's interesting stuff, so it was a good place for us to start.

World's largest chile, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico
 

The world's biggest chile pepper is at an America's Best Value franchise motel, the Big Chile Inn


World's largest chile, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico



I was slightly more impressed by the chile when I got up close. The courtyard that is its home is very pretty with flowers and bright chairs, along with a series of informational signs about chiles.


But it wasn't til I walked into the motel lobby that my interest was piqued. My experience with America's Best motels (in the Midwest) hasn't been that great, and I expected to walk into a dingy, down-in-the-mouth lobby. On the contrary, in a large open space there were three discrete spaces with fresh, clean designs.

Red Chile Inn, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico


Red Chile Inn, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico

 
Red Chile Inn, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico


And then my friend and I encountered co-owner, Elina. She's one of those risk-taking visionaries with huge supplies of energy. When my friend and I met her in the lobby, she invited us to accompany her on a visit to her koi, all of which have names.

Elina also showed us her herb and vegetable plantings, along with fruit trees, in the pretty motel courtyard.

Red Chile Inn, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico



Asian peaches, Red Chile Inn, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Vegetables, Red Chile Inn, W. Picacho Boulevard, Las Cruces, New Mexico


On this summer day, Elina's two kids were in the courtyard gazebo for art lessons from a local artist. Later in the day, an instructor would come to give them swimming lessons in the motel pool.

Elina is originally from Indonesia; her husband, David, from Australia. Elena's professional background is in public relations and David is an engineer.

Here is the exuberant story of how the biggest chile came to be.

Elina and David's investment in this motel on W. Picacho Boulevard is the kind of project that can be the catalyst for more rehabilitation in the area.

However, I don't know how to reconcile my enthusiasm for Elina and David's work on Picacho Boulevard with their criminal conviction here. Jeez.



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