The tiny US desert town that could be the gateway into space

I dip a toe in, then a full foot, then lower myself into the hot water and let out a sigh. It’s only a little rock pool: two strokes and I’m across, hanging my arms over the stony edge, breathing in a lungful of dry oxygen and exhaling a cold, white puff.

Below is a sloping embankment and the sage-green Rio Grande sliding quietly along. A row of cottonwood trees stands on the opposite bank, still amber and gold despite the freezing December temperatures. Above, the purple peak of Caballo Cone rises into a rounded corner, shaded by fluffy cumulus clouds and backlit by a cornflower-blue sky.

This is Truth or Consequences, a tiny town in central New Mexico, along America’s southwestern borderlands. And, believe it or not, its name is not the most interesting thing about this place.

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