Consul Efren Leyva, left, pauses during a chat Saturday with District Judge Dan Bryant. Leyva helped broker the new sister city pact between Ruidoso and Rocky Point, Mexico.

Village development director, Greg Cory, has long wanted a sister city relationship for Ruidoso.

Village leaders met Saturday evening to talk about the Mexico problem, and nobody said a single word about higher border walls or deportations.

On the contrary, the problem under discussion was how to establish closer cross-border relations, and the solution was already at hand – a sister city for Ruidoso south of the border.

The new relation is Puerto Peñasco, but its mayor, Kiko Munro, prefers to use the name the site was first given by a retired British naval officer looking for pearls and precious metals there nearly 200 years ago. Robert William Hale Hardy scanned the barren shoreline through his telescope in 1826 and christened it Rocky Point.

“We’re branding our hometown so we can make it an international site for visitors and investors,” Munro explained during a reception at the Elegante Lodge near the convention center. “Rocky Point is easier to remember.”

Munro’s answer suggests why village development director Greg Cory decided years ago that Rocky Point and Ruidoso would be ideal partners and allies, with a lot to learn from each other.

At first glance, the two towns don’t have much in common. Rocky Point is home to more than 50,000 people. It sits in Sonora desert at sea level, on the narrow northern shore of the Sea of Cortez. It was first established as a fishing village. Nowadays most of its U.S. visitors come from Arizona, Nevada and California.

But Cory said Saturday he made the 600-mile trip to the town several times in recent years and was struck hard by its underlying similarities with Ruidoso.

“We wanted them,” Cory said. “It’s a remote resort community with a large number of second home owners. It has water issues. Tourism and real estate are their prime economic drivers.” Munro agreed with all that and added another point of common experience. “We have struggled alike,” Munro added. “Since 2008 we have both been recuperating, Ruidoso from the hurricane damage and Rocky Point from the recession.”

Cory said the new sister city pact accomplishes a mission he took on a decade ago when he was Chamber of Commerce president, but things didn’t really start happening until last summer when Cory teamed up with chamber director Becky Brooks to get Ruidoso into Sister Cities International.

That organization referred them late last year to the Mexican consulate in Albuquerque.

“Their consul, Efren Leyva, was very responsive,” Cory said. “He picked up the ball, and within 36 hours we had an agreement with Puerto Peñasco.”

Leyva and several of his staff members were here Saturday evening to bless the partnership they had brokered and to stage a display of Mexican folkloric costumes for reception guests to admire.

“It’s not hard to build friendship when both sides want to be friends,” Leyva said. “This will be good for the futures of both towns.”

Munro said the next step would probably be an exchange of trade delegations. Then he said village leaders would be invited to Rocky Point to talk about ideas for improving government services. Munro said he was already impressed by the village’s strategic planning process and Ruidoso’s emergency notification systems. Cory said he wanted a closer look at Rocky Point’s special policing policies for tourists.

After that there will be teacher and student exchange visits and cultural events in both towns, and the relationship can grow from there in whatever direction the two sides want it to.

“We have quite a bit in common,” Munro said. “We both experience seasonal influxes of tourists. I think we can learn from each other. I think it’s going to be good.”

Rocky Point already has several other sister cities, including Fremont, CA, and Pima County, Arizona, where Tucson is located, plus others within Mexico. But large families of sister cities are common. Chicago has nearly 30 sister city pacts. Munro said Ruidoso would not have to stand in line for attention.

“We appreciate the fact that we are the first sister city of your village,” he said. “We take that responsibility seriously.”

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