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Why move to Las Cruces?


It happens every year.

We think spring has arrived, then we get a snap of cold weather, forcing us to dig out our coats again. Last week, the bitter cold and wind coincided with the New Mexico State University baseball team’s annual home game against rival UNM. That’s about the fifth time in the last dozen years the Aggie-Lobo baseball game has been mired by miserable weather.

April Fool’s Day, however, did not tease us this year, and the warmer, sunnier weather seems here to stay.

April 2 was a perfect day for the Downtown Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, as well as anything else you wanted to do outside.

I was at the market Saturday when presented with an interesting challenge.

I stopped at the booth of TCMB Designs, run by my friend and former colleague Theresa Basaldua, who makes uniquely beautiful jewelry from laser-cut wood designs. Theresa was visiting with a couple who had a baby. The couple was relocating from Maine and considering a move to Las Cruces.

“Richard,” Theresa nearly shouted. “Can you tell these lovely people why they should move to Las Cruces?”

If you read this column regularly, you know I love Las Cruces, and this felt almost like a challenge, a pop quiz of sorts.

“First of all,” I told the couple, “if you like this weather, it’s this nice about two-thirds of the year. The traffic is a breeze, and there’s an international airport 45 minutes away.”

Those were the easy ones you can rattle off without thinking.

“The university,” I continued, “brings a lot of things to Las Cruces you wouldn’t normally find in a city this size. See that building right over there? That’s COAS Books and it’s one of the best bookstores in America. I’ve traveled all over the country, and I love bookstores, so I can say that with confidence.”

Then I related a scene I had just seen in COAS.

“They have a Saturday morning story time,” I said. “And this week it was something special. Instead of someone reading from a book, the storyteller was Florence Hamilton, a 100-year-old African-American woman, telling stories from memory about her life and adventures. (The story I heard was about Nozee the dog.)”

We Las Crucens also love to brag about our Organ Mountains.

“You see those beautiful mountains? They amaze in many ways. The other day, I was on the East Mesa before sunrise. The sun had started to emerge, but well hidden by the Organs. However, the light behind turned the mountains into a stunning silhouette, with stars dotting the sky.”

It felt like I was getting a little too artistic, so I brought it down to earth a bit.

“We have some of the best and most flavorful food in America,” I said, my stomach still smiling from the huevos compuestas I had a half hour earlier, when my daughter and I ate at La Nueva Casita Café, just a couple of blocks from the market. But I couldn’t shut up about the mountains. “They’re more than just something pretty to see, you can do things in them too. My daughter and I just hiked up in Soledad Canyon.”

In my zeal to come up with the perfect laundry list for these potential new residents, I forgot the most important thing: the people.

Except for the mountains and the weather, everything good about Las Cruces was created by its people.

Our people represent a wide variety of cultures. They are creative. They are hard-working. They are caring and generous.

Perhaps most of all, Las Crucens are friendly.

Since I don’t have TV, a couple of times during March Madness, I’ve gone to the Game 2 to watch some basketball games. Each time, I made new friends. It’s easy to do here.

Will this couple actually move to Las Cruces? Who knows.

If they’re like so many other people who have moved here from somewhere else, they’ll consider the low cost of living, the dry climate and other things. But if they do move here, it’s certain one of the clinchers will be, “We really like the people in Las Cruces.”

Richard Coltharp