Las Palomas used to be a sleepy berg, quiet, where US oldsters thronged to buy prescription meds at a tiny fraction of the prices this side of the border. One paved street, the rest dirt, gravity flow concrete lined sewer ditches you had to watch your step to avoid when the covers were off or broken.
There was a hardware store, a sort of souvineer store, street venders selling leather goods, hats, and trinkets.
There were a number of dental clinics for US Citizens to get cheap, quality dental care, eye clinics for reasonably priced eyeware, and mostly none of the 'border-town rash'.
But for the past five years, things have begun a gradual change. Sometime around 2001, I began noticing a lot of beggars, probably Tarahumari tribe, from the Sierra Madres, in increasing numbers on the streets. Concurrently, they began a lot of public works projects, tearing down a lot of the older buildings and building new ones.
And, of course,
For the first time, beginning three, four years ago and increasing, a LOT of hookers on the streets, daytime. Not hookers of the old-timey Mexico variety, looking to be barely ahead of the wolves at the door. These women could be in Las Vegas, some of them... no half-starved, poorly dressed hookers for the daytime streets of Palomas.
This trip something else entirely new was happening. They're pouring six-inch thick concrete slabs for the side-streets.
Either things are harder than ever deep in Mexico, driving such folks to Palomas, or they're better than ever, prosperity pulling them there. I haven't a clue which might explain it.
The pharmacies and the rest are still there, oldsters, though fewer, still visiting the pharmacias.... incidently, younger people as well, I noticed, buying viagra, elbowing one another, grinning.
But the meds this time cost a dime for a prilosec that would have cost almost a buck in the Walmart or Costco.
One more of those mysteries in life.
Palomas is six-miles South of Columbus, home of the Villa Raid in 1912. Lots of ruins of that raid, which I'll be telling more about, but here's one monument. All that's left of the bank, that vault testifying that some things just have a way of lasting better than others: