In 2016, my wife and I washed up as flotsam against the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, NM. We enjoyed our time in Albuquerque, but the politics and politicians are really extreme and insane, to boot! We thought about, briefly, moving to Santa Fe, Angel Fire, Las Vegas, and several other northern cities and locations in New Mexico, but nothing worked out. So, we began looking into southern New Mexico.
Not having much luck, I took my wife to Phoenix for her birthday and showed her the “Very Large Array,” which took her breath away and showed her places in Arizona and New Mexico I thought she might enjoy. On the return trip, I took the southerly route through Tucson, and we spent a night in Las Cruces. My wife was amazed at the green that just “popped up” in the desert. The green she mentioned were the miles and miles of pecan and pistachio trees that line the highways of Las Cruces.
Well, some time passes, and in trying to find a home, we finally found something in Las Cruces. The longer I stay here, the more the place feels like home. Better, the people and the architecture, the policies and politics, and New Mexico State University in Las Cruces make this southern location an incredible jewel hidden in southern New Mexico. El Paso is close enough to visit if you want the big-city experience, but truth be told, everything you need can be found in Las Cruces; the people are friendlier, and the climate is fun.
While living in Albuquerque, too many people thought Albuquerque was all to New Mexico and referred to their time as time spent in the land of entrapment. Thankfully, employment took me around the state several times. I got to see the influence of federal government policies on land use, and despise them for the theft of this land. I had the privilege of seeing just how logically insane the government in Santa Fe is and detest them for their inaction, stupidity, politicking, and infernal bickering. But, every time I came south, Las Cruces captured my attention, my notice, and my wonder.
Deming is another location in southern New Mexico, but they are struggling. Mainly because of the government politics and previous economic choices, which are still creating problems in the town. Dependence upon the federal government in New Mexico is endemic, robbing potential, crushing souls, and destroying hopes and dreams. This reality can only be changed if the federal government shrinks to the 1940 (pre-WWII) level of government. However, if you look, you can find small pieces of potential, like spring flowers poking up out of snow, especially in Deming, Las Cruces, and the other southern New Mexico towns and locations that are missing, almost entirely, from northern New Mexico.
At a time when people seem to be restless, are looking for new horizons, and want an escape from the insanity of politicians who refuse to listen to the electorate, may I suggest a visit to Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico. The change is refreshing, the potential is exciting, and the possibilities for growth and development are all but limitless. Better still, there is an undercurrent of enthusiasm found here that appears to be missing in a lot of the other places my wife and I have visited in our 26 years of marriage and 28 different moves across the continental United States.
Please note, Las Cruces is not all roses and rainbows, lollipops, and chocolate-covered peanuts. There are growth areas in politics, agriculture, the railroad, the highways, and the need for manufacturing industry. Some growth areas include an embedded mañana attitude where a business operates a little slower; outdoor workers quit before the heat comes on too bad. Siestas and taking your time is problematic if you want things done in a hurry. But, these are also some of the things that make this little city such an exciting experience.
One of the growth areas that might not be a growth area, except for volume, is the food! Holy… Gustatory Experience! The food in Southern New Mexico is like an inverted food chart for Italy. Northern New Mexico has different foods entirely from southern New Mexico, and Southern New Mexican food is head and shoulders above Northern New Mexico. In Italy, it is said, if you want good food, eat in Northern Italy; in New Mexico, when you eat, eat in the south!
Sure, Northern New Mexico has Monroe’s, which is a phenomenal gustatory experience capturing New Mexican food at its finest. The Owl Café in Albuquerque is a gustatory experience not to be missed in any visit to New Mexico, save room for dessert and order a Chili milkshake. However, Monroe’s and The Owl Café are but two places for food in Albuquerque worth visiting. Las Cruces has Caliche’s Frozen Custard, La Neuva Casita Café, A Bite of Belgium, and Salud! De Mesilla, just to name a few! The food in southern New Mexico is incredible, and the small places are wonderful. Just remember about mañana. Get impatient, and you get rude service.
I cannot stress this enough, mañana is in the culture, in the air you breathe, the dirt, the sand, and in every action taken. You do not come to southern New Mexico to be in a hurry! Want hurry, eat fast food and flee at your earliest opportunity, for southern New Mexico is not for you. Want a little slower pace, time to enjoy conversation, time to explore, and time to get to know people; come to Las Cruces and enjoy the experience!
When you visit, bring your manners! Say please and thank you. Say you’re welcome. Hold the door for strangers and ladies. Wave, especially if someone waves at you. Drive the speed limit! When I was in the US Army, I was given some advice for my visit to South Korea, “show respect, get respect.” Well, the same is true to Southern New Mexico, show some respect, and you will have a great time here.
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
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