A walk across the border for pan dulce

A walk across the border for pan dulce

By Phyllis Eileen Banks

Pancho Villa Park in Columbus
Photo by Joann Mazzio

When we first moved to New Mexico from Alaska, we explored some out-of-the-way places because we didn’t have that opportunity in Alaska. Out-of-the-way places there required an airplane.

Columbus, New Mexico, population 700, intrigued us after we learned that three families from Alaska had built adjacent houses, complete with airstrip, in that remote desert community.

So what was there? It’s only three miles from the Mexican border, the air is clear, there are no traffic jams, and before World War II Columbus was the only place foreign forces had invaded the United States. In 1916, Pancho Villa and his bandits attacked, shooting out windows and looting stores, it is said. Now there is a park that was named for Pancho Villa, but only after much controversy. Since the consensus was that the villain receives the most attention, the name Pancho Villa triumphed.

We turned south from Interstate 10 at Deming onto New Mexico Highway 11, driving 32 miles, to check it out. Located on the site of the old Camp Furlong, the park is primarily a botanical garden consisting of southwestern desert plants. An interesting artifact is the first grease rack installed to service U. S. Army automotive equipment. The lube, oil and filter attendants of today would find it difficult to grease your car there in the few minutes they take now.

Pancho Villa

We found a visitors’ center, campground, and picnic tables in a very pleasant, uncrowded location. There is a documentary film at the center on Pancho’s raid for those who love history. After a short walk around town, we drove three miles to the border town of Las Palomas, parked on the U. S. side, and walked across into Mexico. You don’t need a visa or passport, just a voter’s registration card or other proof of citizenship.

I am a bread-a-holic and the fragrance from the bakery was alluring. It was fun to take a tray and tongs to make our selection. We bought far more than we needed, but who can resist such a bargain? Neither of us can, so we returned to the U. S. happily munching pan dulce, bread with just the right amount of sweetness. Now we’re ready for our next exploration in southwestern New Mexico.

About Phyllis Eileen Banks