After a bit of faffing around with Greyhound buses yesterday, we were picked up this morning by trail angel Keith in Deming. Keith took us to the Mexican Border in his truck and gave us the low-down on water sources and beta he’s had from other hikers that have recently passed this way. We then walked into Mexico (the border town is called Palomas and has had a bit of trouble with warring drugs cartels we are told) where everyone seemed to know Keith and he knew everyone. For the Scottish readers: Keith would be given the title “big man” in the fair city of Glasgow – in the best possible way.!
About 50 meters into Mexico, we had what I (M) have been wishing to do for a long long time: a Mexican meal (tostadas for me and burrito for B) in Mexico! It was tasty, the pre-meal salsa was distinctly hotter than anything you’d get in Scotland (I was given some butter to suck on to extinguish the flames inside my mouth), and the restaurant/gift shop where we ate was just lovely, full of colourful shiny things (which tourists can buy if they don’t – like us – have to carry everything on their backs)!
So far we have been checked by the border patrol/customs three times: once in the bus approaching Deming (where they had a dog sniff our luggage while an olive green official checked our passports), once on the way back from the restaurant recrossing into the US (fair enough) and then again as we walked away from the border after taking some souvenir photos. We are told to expect more checking over the next couple of days.
Keith then left us to the hot wind and the rattle snakes … well, to walk along the road for only three miles from the border into the American town of Columbus to be precise. Our daily distance on this part of the hike will strongly depend on water availability and we are going to try to ensure that we are camped near water every night to allow us to re hydrate over night and not have to carry too much extra weight in the shape of H2O. The next water from here is 18 miles along the trail, so we are staying in Columbus tonight (in a red clay and cactus campsite that looks just lovely!) and starting early tomorrow morning.
Used to the soggy hillsides of Scotland, it must be said that so far, New Mexico feels incredibly dry, hot and dusty to us. The kind of landscape that makes your tongue stick to to the roof of your mouth just by looking at it, leave alone walking through it. We’ve been warned of rattle snakes, scorpions, spiky vegetation and drug runners as well as border patrol (the last two in the list being armed with guns). But there’s also hope of spotting Ibex (a population descended from some Persian ibex released in the past) and a small thing that looks like a pygmy tapir or pig. I’d also like to see a road-runner (New Mexico’s state bird) and lots of lizards.
At the next resupply stop in about 3 days in Deming, we are hoping to meet up with Keith again. There is a winery there (yessss!).
We have uploaded some photos of our trip so far here.