Thursday, January 31, 2019

Caravan of Foreigners Heads to the Border

Friday, January 22, 2019

Nine people in five vehicles drove to  Columbus, New Mexico and spent the night in the Hotel Los Milagros. Upon checking in and getting unpacked, Phillip Skinner (Hotel Owner and Tour Guide), took all of us in his air conditioned Ford bus across the border to Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico where we enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Pink Store. It is undergoing major renovation, but the improvements thus far are fabulous according to a couple of our friends who had visited here a number of times.

We were serenaded by a wonderful "Mariachi" Band who played and sang, among other songs, "Beer Barrel Polka" and "Helena Polka" providing music for every taste!

"Mariachi" Band at The Pink Store

Here they are entertaining other folks

"Door Greeter"

L to R: Alice and Evans, Doug Kerr

L to R: Trudy Reese, Gail Swineford and Alice Evans

L to R: Trudy, Carla Kerr and Gail

Doug and Carla Kerr

Just to give you a sense of the vastness of The Pink Store

One could shop here all day and still not see everything

Yet another room of The Pink Store
Carla checking out the pottery

An interesting way to display these blown glass hearts
Afterwards, we wandered through The Pink Store taking in all the beautiful colors of pottery, clothing, metal work, etc. Some found some items irresistible (like myself) and made purchases.

Some of us walked around in the area and came across some interesting items and decor.

Everything is so colorful here

The carving on these huge doors is beautiful

One could buy a complete band in metal yard art

Lovely decorations

Another set of beautifully carved doors
Upon returning to Hotel Los Milagros, several of us were ready for napping. Later in the evening, we dined on sandwiches we brought back from The Pink Store and played a dice game called "Toss-Up". It is a somewhat mindless game which I somehow managed to win - obviously beginner's luck.

Hotel Los Milagros, Columbus, New Mexico
This is Phillip Skinner, our wonderful guide, assisting Carla into the bus

L to R: Gail, Doug, Carla, Evans and Trudy playing Toss-Up

We were up and packed out very early Saturday morning, January 26, 2019. Several of us brought treats for breakfast like pumpkin spice scones and blueberry sour cream scones and fresh fruit. The hotel provided cereals, oatmeal, fruit, plenty of good coffee and tea. Once breakfast was over, our overnight bags were loaded into Phillip's bus and we headed back to the Mexican/American Border where we got visas to be able to visit the interior of Chihuahua, Mexico.

This is the official visa office and only two at a time could fit inside!
Our ultimate destination was Juan Mata Ortiz, a small village famous for its pottery and well known artisans of this art who live there.  We arrived at the Adobe Inn early afternoon and were treated to some of the local cuisine cooked by two lovely young women.

Phillip speaking with Pottery artisan, Ana in courtyard

Alice and Evans coming from their room
L to R: Alice, Evans, Chris (standing back), James and Lewis in dining area
It was chilly so everyone is gathered around the fireplace
Lunch is being served
This is Carla and Doug's room with space heater. It was rustic to say the least!
After dining, we got back into the bus and Phillip took us to Ana's home where the pottery is made.

This is a typical home in Mata Ortiz
Evans and James listening to Ana tell about the pottery
Carla purchased the light colored bowl on the left, created by Ana's son, Martin Corona
L to R: Carla, Ana and Chris Dohmen talking about the pottery
Gail purchased this beautiful piece
This amazing container with all the bats and flowers on it is done by "scratch art" and one must have the patience of Job to create such beauty
Carla and Chris are contemplating this work of art while Ana explains how it is created
After making our purchases and getting them securely wrapped to make the trip home, we again enter the bus and Phillip takes us to the Paquime Indian Ruins and Museum.

Doug noted the sign to his right states "No Drone Zone"
A diorama in the museum depicting the original Paquime Indian Village
Another depiction of the Paquime Indian Village in the museum
Now touring the ruins, this is one of two large and deep holes used to cook the Mescal for celebrations
They built below ground and upward so they had more than one floor.
An overview of the area which is just stunning to see
Another view of the rooms which almost all seem to be inner-connected
This is one of their waste disposal ditches and they also had running water
Gail with Trudy on her trusty transportation
Another shot of the village from a different angle
Doug opted for a wheel chair because of all the walking
Evans took a break while Alice visited the village
It was time to return to the Adobe Inn where we ate another well prepared meal. Most of us were reluctant to go to our little rooms with the space heaters so we hung out around the fireplace as long as we could. This was one time I was truly grateful that I had married a big man because his body heat kept me alive for sure!

However, we survived in fine style and had an excellent breakfast before loading up for our trip back to Columbus, New Mexico on January 27, 2019. Phillip took us by some interesting sights as we wound our way through Juan Mata Ortiz, Mennonite settlements and a Mormon town. He even pointed out where Mitt Romney's father was born.

Another fine meal. L to R: James, Lewis, Carla getting coffee and Gail

Clockwise from center: Lewis, James, Trudy, Evans, Gail and Phillip enjoying that fireplace

This is what they call the glass house and this woman has been collecting bottles, jars, glasses, etc. for years working on this house. There is a huge pile of various colored bottles in the yard. Hope she lives long enough to complete it.
Carla threatened to send a picture of this gorgeous wall to the president!
These are buzzards roosting in this tree
Carla took this shot because it is most perfect nature shaped Christmas tree she has ever seen!
We have arrived at the Hacienda de San Diego known at one time as the Chihuahua White House
This was one of 24 haciendas owned by Luis Terrazas who had been a governor of Chihuahua a couple of times. He owned over seven million acres of land in Chihuahua, 500,000 cattle; 225,000 sheep; 25,000 horses and 5000 mules. It is rumored that when interviewed by a reporter who asked him if he had a ranch in Chihuahua, he replied, "Chihuahua is my ranch."  This particular hacienda included a granary, stables and housing for workers. It also had a huge arena for rodeos.

Luis Gonzaga Jesus Daniel Terrazas Fuentes died on July 15, 1923, the same day that Pancho Villa died.

Close-up of the center of the hacienda
The granary
Workers quarters
Building that houses the workers
We spotted this skull as we were driving away
This is the entrance to the stables
Our next stop was a place Phillip took us to sample Sotol, a Mexican liquor akin to tequila. I was tempted to try it until I saw the very large jar that they sampled out of. Just about everyone else tried it, but not Doug nor I.

As you can see, therein lies a dead rattlesnake whom many people believe gives the Sotol magical healing power. Just seeing the snake in the jar did a number on my brain!

Sotol plant
Then we stopped in a little torta shop for sandwiches and drinks. The food was surprisingly delicious.

Evans and Alice are sitting across from Carla and Doug. Chris and Gail are at the next table with the brothers, Lewis and James.  We had an excellent meal.
The last place we stopped was the Mormon enclave and the name of the town is Colonia Juarez. It is very clean and pristine.

Part of the school grounds in Colonia Juarez

Back in Puerto Palomas to turn in our visas. There is a hefty fine if you do not turn in your visa.
On returning to Columbus, we all rested a bit and then had a delicious dinner of shepherds pie, salad, and apple cobbler for dessert, which several of us brought. We then played that game, "toss-up" won by Gail.

Monday morning, January 28, 2019, it was time to drive home. We all loaded our vehicles and went to the Borderland Cafe for breakfast. Doug says they have excellent huevos rancheros, but I knew they would be too spicy for me so I opted for something milder. When breakfast was over we drove to the railroad museum across the way. The museum and gift shop is staffed by a lovely lady, (name escapes me) very knowledgeable and friendly.

Lovebirds, Alice and Evans

Sidewall of the Borderland Cafe
Evans and Alice walking back to the Hotel Los Milagros from breakfast
Train Station Museum in Columbus, New Mexico
Carla waiting for Doug to finish inspecting the railroad signaling equipment
They have a wonderful collection of early '20's hats
This is a small portion of their button collection
We are finally on the road to Alamogordo. We came back through Deming, New Mexico because neither of us had ever been in the town. I did get one interesting shot at a major intersection there in town.

Can you tell in the photo that water is running out of the tipped vase into the bowl below?

It truly was a grand adventure, but always good to get home and into your own bed. Thanks to Gail, Chris, Alice and Doug for many of the pictures. Hard to write a travelogue like this without pictures which, as they say, are worth a thousand words!

This is all I have to say for now.