Unless you live in New Mexico or have a relative there, chances are you haven't heard of Portales. It's not exactly a vacation destination but when my siblings and parents decided we would meet there to celebrate my grandmother's ninetieth birthday that's what it became.
Portales is a small, rural town situated in the vast plains of Eastern New Mexico and bordering the Texas Panhandle. It's a quiet town with a small population, although it is home to Eastern New Mexico University so I imagine it sees more action during the school year. During the summer, though, it's peaceful and, coupled with the heat, makes everyone in the mood to just hang out, which is exactly how my family spent the majority of our time together - in various states of relaxation.
My grandmother lives a block away from a big park right by the university so Chris and I, my brother and sister,their partners, and my dad spent a lazy afternoon there. Since none of us siblings have any children yet my family compensates with dogs and we brought them along to run around and cool off in the sprinklers. We went on the swings and played frisbee while Chris strummed his ukulele, a scene that could come straight out of an indie hipster movie.
Aside from being the home to peanut factories and dozens of huge dairy farms, Portales (and it's neighboring city of Clovis) is also home to "one of the most significant sites in North American archaeology": Blackwater Draw site and museum, which I visited when I was in Portales last summer. At the Blackwater site many bones of prehistoric animals have been excavated, along with the ancient weapons and tools used to kill and process their carcasses, which leads scientists and researches to infer that about 80% of people native to the Americas have ancestral connections to the people that once roamed the land in Clovis over 13,000 years ago. If you really stop and consider this it's kind of mind-blowing - this seemingly insignificant part of the U.S is (as my dad pointed out on my Instagram account) where my Colombian ancestors may have hunted thousands of years ago, back towards the end of the last Ice Age, when the weather was cooler and the area was a forest full of pine trees surrounding a lake where "megafauna" would drink water while hungry Paleo-Indians hid behind rocks with sharp spears in their hands. Cool, right? RIGHT?
And that's the Portales area of New Mexico in a nutshell: extremely historically important but not as fascinating in the present day, although totally worth the trip to get to see my family. Check back soon for New Mexico, Part Two: Santa Fe.