Thursday, October 31, 2019

Viva Villa!

It is said that Francisco "Pancho" Villa had between 23 and 75 wives.  Some sources say he had at least 75 but only 23 have been documented with names and dates these days, but he was known for having children with 16 women.  He did not believe in divorce or annulment so upon his death in 1923, he could have had the most wives by any non-Mormon in North America since the Spanish arrived.  He was successful in convincing the priests and judges to burn many of the records, so proof wasn't always an easy thing and girls literally begged him in some towns to impregnate them.  It must have seemed odd after his death that three women showed up to act as the grieving widows. 
       So why am I suddenly interested in Pancho Villa?
       On March 9, 1916, the last time a foreign army invaded the United States, it happened in...Columbus, New Mexico, a question most will not answer correctly and today, we were there.  The Battle of Columbus led to much...probably none of it good.
12 Army and 8 civilians were killed on the US side, with over 100 Mexicans killed

Odd machines of war were in use

Much of the town was destroyed but the railroad and the depot were intact, within a month Columbus would be the center of 250,000 troops amassed on the border

A little history:
Within a day, a full scale military incursion was authorized by President Wilson and Columbus was made into a huge staging area for an entire division of the Army, then more.  Exactly a week later, General Pershing sent advance companies into Mexico in the plan of eliminating Villa at best or dispersing his military forces at worst.  It ended 11 months later.   During the course of the action, The US Forces killed many key Villa allies, including his chief lieutenant being one of three men shot personally by Lt George Patton.  The Villanistas counter-attacked Glenn Springs and Boquillas, Texas both now in Big Bend National park (Boquillas is Rio Grande Village and Glenn Springs is a Ghost Town on the west side where there is only a small sign now, and where I got my lesser nighthawk in my big year in 2016).  There a small US detachment was destroyed.  A month later four, US Troops were killed at San Ygnatio, another birding location. 

During the main incursion, the US Army encountered Mexican Regular Army and almost brought the two countries into a full scale war, but despite all of this...Pancho Villa escaped and the US needed to withdraw the troops so we could enter World War I as almost all of our regular troops were in Mexico.  The US and not the Mexican Army would put an end to the Villinistas actions on the border as a 1919 Raid on Juarez across from El Paso would cause over a dozen US casualties due to stray bullets that the commander of the US forces immediately retaliated by sending in 1200 troops into Mexico and dispersed Villa's Division of the North so thoroughly that he sued for peace and retired.  Many marriages and just three years later, he was assassinated.  He was 45.

To be descriptive, the entire deal was IMHO one large waste of money, lives, and time. 

We had just left from another famous place, the Chihuahua Mountains where Geronimo periodically hid between various previous incursions by the US Calvary into Mexico chasing him and his band.  This was 30 years earlier.  Silja and I hiked many of the trails and found hidden springs and saw the wildlife of the beautiful area.

Cave Creek from above

Silja at Chihuahua National Monument

We hiked the canyon trails to find birds and butterflies and went up in the pines to get the chickadee,  yes that chickadee and I saw Mexican chickadees three times but they would not come out of the trees to be photographed.  I found a couple of birders down on the bottom looking hopefully for a chickadee or two6 and thinking the titmice they had heard briefly were chickadees and I had to tell them, "you aere way too low" and gave them directions, but later on there was no evidence they had gone up the mountain, I think the road to Onion Saddle scared them, heck, it scares me, but if you want that bird, there is no short cut.   I did photograph yellow-eyed juncos.  I always like these guys, they look sinister.

Then I saw the four Arizonas... 
Arizona woodpecker

Arizona Giant-skipper

Arizona metalmark

Arizona Sister

I love these mountains and the twilight of our last day sort of described a lot for this country  Extreme Southern New Mexico and SE AZ is changing, and I'm not sure if it is a good thing.

A beautiful sunset before a truly black night.  Villa et al tried to destroy much of this area and leave people in fear, after Geronimo previously did and we ended up carting away the natives to captivity in Oklahoma.  Now the jobs have pretty much all dried up, much like the towns of Rodeo, Antelope Wells, Animas, and especially Hachita.  The railroad pulled out in 1961 as did much of the mining and even the Sky Gypsy scheme of John McAfee  a decade ago ended up pretty much yielding nothing short of a really strange story and some serious head scratching (by me).  The Sky Gypsy story is too bizarre to repeat here so look it up. 

Now we got the new perceived border issues, and it is true that a focus place of illegal crossing was between Hachita and both sides of Columbus (I have first hand visualization of that years ago).  I have read some recent musings out of the Big East Coast media saying that nothing has been built of Trump's wall and many people are all smiles and patting themselves on the back thinking what they read is true.  Sorry folks, there IS A WALL being built....

The wall being built hard and fast westward, east of Columbus, NM

 I can give you directions and you can probably drive right up to it.  I suspect that lazy reporters aren't driving out east of Columbus to see what is going on because NO ONE is ever out here driving on Hwy 9.  It is easier to sit in New York and act smart.  There are no direct flights to El Paso from DC or NYC. 

The last time I drove this way, I met 67 border patrol cars and two sheriff's deputies, but no private vehicles....this year, that was down to 37 and 1 cop.  Last time I was stopped five times while birding by Border Patrol but this time in the RV, nothing, although I wasn't stopping and wasn't out taking pictures, every five miles.  There were cement trucks about every three miles, driving 100 miles from a cement plant near El Paso, which is owned by Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, a Mexican company....sigh.  How ironic is that? 

BTW, I did meet only three civilian cars east of Hachita in 140 miles, besides construction crews.
The last time I drove here I spotted 17 illegals sneaking across the road, this time nadda one.
I hear that illegal traffic has moved to west of Douglas, AZ.

Where are these large helicopters were going or coming from made me wonder.   I hope they weren't on border patrol, as they went north in Columbus they are heading away.
I don't care if you are for or against the wall, since it is being built, and what I think or you  think doesn't matter and it is probably needed here but not in the LRGV.  No one wants to solve the real problem in reality.  What is the next phase, build gun turrets on the wall?  It seems so East Germany in the Sixties but I guess that was to keep people in, not out.  There IS a problem and by and large we have all caused it.   We want cheap goods, cheap labor, really cheap food, we don't want to do the dirty jobs in America, and we turn a blind eye to the elites and large corporations that hire them on the QT.  How many domestics are truly legal?   

We drove through El Paso, I almost went into bronchospasm.  We also ignore Juarez (a city of 1.4 million).  Here we are, having a fit (rightfully so, to a degree) about global warming and all these fires in California, when one of the largest (yes) cities in America, El Paso has a terrible smog problem that you never hear about.  You rarely ever hear about El Paso.  It is a metro area larger than Detroit, Minneapolis, or well almost anywhere.  It is like it just doesn't exist.  Because of the lax rules on emissions right next door in Juarez, yet all of that 'stuff' they produce comes to us, smog included.   Ban is a better use of our time

Oh well, can't fix it anyhow and we always tend to forget history.  We are like fish biting at the shiny bait... 
So what did I learn...
1) Villa is still thought of fondly as a man for the the little person, yet in Villa's case, besides all of his brides, it is documented that he raped many ...many women hundreds to thousands, even shooting many that tried to shoot him after the fact.  So Villa was a bad man, a very bad man.
2) The Chihuahuas Mtns and valleys are gorgeous
3) Mexican chickadees can be really hard to photograph
4) They are really building the wall, at least near Columbus NM, they are

Drive the desert of southern New Mexico...



  1. I guess nobody wants to fix the problem without this stupid wall. Easy fix. If a person is caught hiring an illegal, minimum 15 years, no parole, 500K fine and confiscation of all property and equipment involved. No, they just keep jailing the illegals.

    1. isn't that the truth, Tyson foods and their old IBP division was like the worst....I think they could solve the problem in a few weeks. Also hit the rich with their maids and gardeners


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