Over the holidays my husband and I were fortunate to spend some much needed time with his mother. We do not get to see her very often, as she lives in a small town near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, called Pinedale. We have been there twice before to visit her and were blown away with the beauty of Wyoming. Visiting her is always an adventure!
Now that my “mother-in-love” is retired, she and her husband are spending the warmer months in Wyoming, and have become “snow-birds” flocking to their home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, avoiding the feet of snow, and opting for what are typically warmer winter months. We were very surprised that we came all the way to New Mexico to see the first snow of the year. The weather was unusually frigid, even snowing a few inches during our visit.
We spent most of the time being led around like tourists, taking in all the Southwestern sites and tastes. The first restaurant we dined at ended up being my most absolute favorite of the trip, La Posta de La Mesilla in Old Mesilla. The picturesque adobe building that the restaurant is located in dates back to an estimated 1840s, originally housing a freight and passenger line; the restaurant later occupying the space in 1939. It was easy to determine why this place is ranked as one of the top 10 Mexican restaurants in the United States.
To eat, I had the combination plate #1, which consisted of a tamale, their famous red enchiladas, a rolled taco (a taquito), all served aside rice and beans. There also was a red chile con carne, which was as tender as a pot roast, but with all the loved Mexican spices and flavors. It was one of the most delightful meals I have had in a long time. To drink, I had the “La Patrona” margarita. Not sure if the name was for the Patrón tequila in the margarita, or if it was because this margarita is a BOSS! By far, the best margarita I have ever had. I could have sat there and drank myself silly. No nasty margarita sour mix put in this drink. Pure lime, tequila, and the faintest hint of simple syrup. I want one just thinking about it right now.
For New Year’s day, we stayed around “la casa” and enjoyed Southern holiday traditions, such as no washing clothes or sweeping of any kind. We dined on the traditional New Year’s day foods, ho-cakes, black-eyed peas for luck, collard greens for money, and we threw in pork chops for good measure. My mother-in-law and I enjoyed a nice walk around their surrounding neighborhood. The views of the surrounding Organ Mountain are breath-taking. I was surprised to discover that New Mexico is a large producer of pecans. The orchards surrounding their neighborhood were large and bare this time of year.
On the last day of our adventure out west, we drove down to Puerto Palomas, Mexico. This was just a short hour drive south of Las Cruces. We chose to go into Mexico via this route versus through Juarez via El Paso, due to proximity, smaller border patrol lines, and safety. Unbelievably, it was snowing as we made the drive from Las Cruces into Mexico. It was a strange feeling having come all the way from Alabama to see snow in the desert.
Puerto Palomas boasts as the location where Pancho Villa launched his attack on New Mexico in 1916; a small border town, adjacent to Columbus, New Mexico. As we approached the border walls, we parked in a make-shift parking lot adjacent to a Dollar General on the American side of the border wall. Nothing says “Welcome to America” like a Dollar General Store. We put on our coats and scarves, and made the quick five-minute walk across the border, passing armed Mexican troops along the way.
The border perimeter is lined with pharmacies, liquor shops, and other novelty shops. One of the favorites frequented by my in-laws, and just a block from the border is the “Pink Store.” My mother-in-law thought we would enjoy shopping here because they serve you margaritas as you shop, which just made us shop more. This was a perfect stop to collect some Mexican folk art and other souvenirs. My husband was able to purchase some Cuban rum we cannot find in the United States, and my in-laws were able to refill their prescriptions for far less than they could in the United States. The store has a restaurant adjacent, and once we all had finished our shopping we enjoyed an authentic Mexican lunch, before crossing back into the United States.
It is always a sad day when we have to part. We had a delightful breakfast before leaving Las Cruces at Mesilla Valley Kitchen. The portions were large, and everything was cooked to order. It was the perfect base for what would be a long travel day home. As we approached El Paso, I asked if we could stop at the Lincoln Park underpass murals. It was just off the freeway and an easy stop coming into El Paso to the airport. Dozens of murals cover the underpass here. We spent a little time leisurely walking around taking photos. I love seeking out murals and other local art when visiting new cities. El Paso has over 100 murals. You could probably spend a week here and not see them all. I think that says volumes about the culture, and appreciation of arts in this community. Also, the art is a magnification of the people from the area producing it. My love for murals is very close to my love for seeking out local food. I love to find and immerse myself in the local environment in which I’m traveling. It makes the experience that much more enriching. I encourage you to do the same when you are traveling. Try something new, experience life.
La Patrona margarita from La Posta de Mesilla. The best margarita I’ve ever had!
Unknown home. Just loved the colors and architecture. Adobe-style, flat- top homes were abundant in this area.
My mother-in-love after a few margaritas at the Pink Store in Puerto Palomas, Mexico.