Section 5: Douglas to Columbus

 

Day 61

7 miles

 

We celebrated our last morning with Kris in style at the Borderland Cafe. Oof, do we have to say goodbye?

It's the cutest little cafe in Columbus with bright orange walls and scenic desert pictures. A woman bustled about, juggling six tasks simultaneously plus answering our many questions. Adriana and her husband had opened the cafe a year ago when she had moved back to Columbus after living in Austin for 11 years. She had loved living in the city but missed the community and safety of Columbus. With the combined labor of her father and her husband, Lawrence, they had renovated a building and made her dream come true. It’s been over half a year since the doors were opened and even though employees are hard to find the cafe is going strong (as evidenced by the number of people coming and going). Lawrence chimed in while he flipped eggs behind the counter, Border Patrol gives them some of the best business, around 25% of everyone. Locals don’t care much for Border Patrol, but he’s made friends with them. After hearing about our adventure he cheerfully told us that he likes to jump on his four wheeler to check out the action anytime he hears about activity along the border. Well we can’t fault him for curiosity, that’s part of why we’re out here too.

 

Kris dropped us off for the final time back at the wall and only a couple miles from Columbus.

As we neared the drop off a cat dashed up to the wall and disappeared inside it. What!?

 

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This section of wall is a hollow, horizontal pole supported by sturdy metal posts, and it makes for a clever hiding spot for a kitty cat. Tenny pulled out her camera to record the cat but it was camera shy and refused to come out. All you could see down the hollow were two green eyes, occasionally the cat would blink and everything would go dark.

 

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Ten minutes after Kris left Border Patrol pulled up.

He questioned us more intensely than most, were we with the white car that just pulled away, where were we going?

He told us there were sensors along our path that we had been setting off. And could we please walk in the center of the road so our footprints didn’t confuse them. Ok, no problem. Not trying to cause trouble.

 

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The wall changed again into teal aluminum cylinders that alternated one tall, one short, one tall, one short, creating a pattern, it almost looked like an art installation.

 

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We were delighted by the idea, what if this section of the border had been designed as a piece of art?

It morphed back into its most common form, tall metal bars, as we neared the Mexican town of Palomas and the Port of Entry. Tall street lamps were placed along the wall at regular intervals, indicating the increased infrastructure common near towns.

 
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We knew the port had to be near but we couldn't see much around the customs buildings. Not until a semi truck passed through the wall did we believe the port was there! All the buildings in the area were under heavy construction, there must be an expansion going on. A few cow stalls were standing amidst the chaos, mirroring the stalls on the other side of the wall. US cows mooing to the Mexican cows. We moved away from the border right before the port, dodging the construction and traffic to a large Family Dollar nearby. We grabbed some snacks and contributed to what we later learned was the Family Dollar with the highest revenue in New Mexico.

 

After picking us up at the Family Dollar, Kris drove us to Deming, NM where we would take a couple days off. We wanted to stay in Columbus but their one hotel was full and they didn’t have much in the way of walkable amenities. We took advantage of our last day of car mobility by doing as many chores as possible. We also really, really didn’t want Kris to leave. We checked into the hotel, unpacked the car, searched and then searched again for anything left behind and...it was time. Kris, and Claire’s mom, Sarah, have been living overseas for the last couple years and it felt particularly brutal to say goodbye knowing we wouldn’t be in the same country or time zone for awhile. Kris had been such invaluable support, we could not possibly thank him enough. We hugged, hugged again, said thank you a million times, and then he was off, back to Tucson and the six different flights it would take him to get to the other side of the world. Time to mope, sleep and eat our feelings.