Monday, November 13, 2006

A very busy week

Thursday, Nov. 9 With four camping groups here at the Park and two special events this coming weekend, it’s a busy place. To add to the activity, Gwen, Jim (a lively ‘young’ volunteer couple that have been married 62 years!) and I joined two other volunteers at the Pink Store for lunch today. I finally remembered to take my camera to Palomas, and took pictures of both the outside and inside of the Pink Store.

After lunch, Gwen, Jim and I explored part of this small Mexican town. We found a bakery (bought dinner rolls), hardware (bought a quiote – more on that later), grocery and cheese shop (didn’t need anything but did enjoy looking at the products). I also checked out the American Dental Clinic where Gwen and Jim get dental work done.

Camping groups here this week are the Border City Travelers (Winnebago and Itasca owners in southern New Mexico), Silver City Traveling Elks, FMCA Chaparral Chapter, and the Chili Chapter of Escapees. I joined the Border Cities Travelers for happy hour.

Now about the Quiote (pronounced Kee-yo-tay). I saw several of these strange looking things on a hardware store shelf, wondered what in the world it might be used for. In the clerk’s minimal English I learned that it was for “those little colorful birds.” I decided it would be a good conversation piece, and since it was only $3.30 US dollars, bought it.

When I went to Useful Spanish class this past Sunday I took the quiote to ask Javier for more information. He said it is from a quiote plant that is hollow in the middle. It is a parakeet nesting “box”. “The female and male parakeet mate, then the female – with maybe some help from the male – chips away at the hole that has been started by the saw until she can get inside to lay her eggs. (And about Javier – he is the town judge.)

Friday, Nov. 10
We are still working on weeds – I usually put in a couple hours each morning. Then this frees up the middle of the day for me to work on my magazine writing. I take frequent breaks to visit with other campers.

I finished the Roger Tory Peterson biography - what an interesting person. Also very bright and industrious. By the time the biography was written (mid 1970s), the appendix listed that he had authored, edited and artist for 6 field guides, editor of 15 more field guides, author and artist for 10 additional books, there were 6 pages of additional books that he worked on, 5 pages of awards and 3 pages of activities and professional affiliations. His high school, senior yearbook had this under his photo: "Woods! Birds! Flowers! Here are the makings of a great naturalist!"
He certainly lived up to this!

Veterans are honored today
Saturday, Nov. 11
About 75 campers and townspeople, including the men from the American Legion Hall came to our Veterans’ Day program. There were two presentations: one about the Buffalo Soldiers and their role in the Pancho Villa Punitive Expedition, the other was given by a man who is the grandson on a Jenny pilot who gave a talk about the airplane’s history at Columbus’s Camp Furlong.

I had the afternoon (1 to 5 p.m.) shift in the museum, and took this opportunity to take some photos there.

This photo is a replica of the 1916 JN-3 bi-plane (the Jenny).

This photo is of a 1916 Ford truck – identical to one used in the Punitive Expedition.

There is a quote by Porfirio Diaz, Mexican president and dictator for 30 years in late 1800s and early 1900s:
“Poor Mexico! So far from God and so near the United States.”

Saturday evening’s special event was a great fireworks display that was sponsored by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. They were quite good – and I joined the Border Cities folks for a front-row seat.

On your mark, get ready, go!
Sunday, November 12, 2006

Today is the “IV Carrera Binacional Columbus-Palomas” (translated: 4th Annual Binational Run between Columbus, USA, and Palomas, Mexico)
The race attracted 200-plus runners from several countries hoping to win part of the $5,000 in cash prizes.

My volunteer t-shirt says: “Corriendo por una meta en comun” (translation: Run for a common goal)
I helped with a variety of jobs, starting with setting up the registration area, folding t-shirts and stacking them by size, putting hats in the runners’ bags, and then helped with registration. The most difficult part was helping with registration because the majority of the runners were Mexican. Why, oh why didn’t I pay more attention in high school Spanish class?!?

We had three runners Kenya – they came in first, second and third! And we had four Taraharmura Indians from Mexico: two men and two women who ran in traditional clothing. The men ran in a skirt-like outfit and thong-type sandals, and the women in knee-length full skirts. These Indians are well known for distance running/stamina.

Logistically the run had some unusual complications. Many Mexican runners could get to the USA border, but had to be met by vans driven by USA volunteers to bring them the last three miles to the park. And then their belongings (non-running clothes, etc.) had to be bagged up and driven to the finish line on the Mexican side. The USA runners had to take their ID information with them, or have it taken down, so they could get back in the US.

Here is a picture of the goal (meta). The awards ceremony, lunch and intermission entertainment was held in Mexico.

I got back to the Park just in time to head to the Useful Spanish class. Part of today’s lesson was information about shopping in Palomas and ordering in Mexican restaurants where the menus are in Spanish and the wait staff speaks mostly Spanish.

By evening, nearly all the club campers had left, leaving just a few motorhomes. The calm before two more clubs start coming in tomorrow. Ranger Brian says starting next week the park will have far less campers the rest of the year.

Monday, Nov. 13
After weed work and trash detail, I spent a good day reading, writing, and doing some cleaning. The clubs started coming in: the Sierra Sams (a Good Sam chapter) from Elephant Butte and the Traveling Elks from Alamagordo.