Monday, October 30, 2006

Some photos from the Taos trip, or the Honda Civic diaries, cont'd

North of Santa Fe, about a third of the way to Taos, there's a road that heads off towards the Nambe Pueblo. This time of year it's a beautiful drive through fallen leaves covering the road. If one continues beyond the pueblo turnoff, desert soon reclaims the landscape, and this is how it looks. This then becomes what is known as The High Road to Taos.

It's only a few short miles until one enters a small valley that cradles the quaint village of el Potrero de Chimayó. Chimayo has become known as the Lourdes of America because of its tierra bendita, or healing earth, dispensed from its famous adobe chapel built nearly two hundred years ago.

To those of faith, the powdery earth has healing powers. When I last went inside the sanctuary several years ago, the area just outside the small room with the miracle dirt was abundantly furnished with canes and crutches abandoned by those who came for help, for a milagro, and got it. And for those of little faith who had come to be cured but weren't, help was still possible in the form of a discarded cane or crutches of those who were, I suppose. (Dada prefers to believe in the power of the miracle earth.)

This trip I discovered a very enchanting area accessed by a paved trail just behind the chapel. It descends into a peaceful park-like setting located just beneath the hills in the background above. There I found benches and tables among various religious icons and altars in what undoubtedly serves as a place for outdoor worship and picnics.

Dogless woman in lower left corner. (I had to lighten this photo for her to show, but she gives scale to the arched crosses.)

There were seven large crosses within arches made of stones bordering the back of one of the fields across which had just run a small dog that a traveler had regrettably unleashed. A picture I had taken of these crosses reveals the woman at the edge of this formation, hands on hips, beckoning her dog who, when tasting freedom forgot its name and disappeared. She like many pilgrims to Chimayo, suddenly found herself in need of a miracle. Or I wondered if the dog would be joining the crutches and canes abandoned by people who had come to be rid of their encumbrances, cured by the tierra bendita? Maybe a kind of sacrifice for the wonderful milagros performed here.

As I photographed this, my third eye sensed I was being watched. Glancing back, I turned to discover a curious horse peering over my shoulder. A friendly enough sort, I stroked its long snout before rushing off excitedly to retrieve Mrs. Dada to take a picture of me with my new found friend.

There is no picture of Dada and the horse, for as I was stroking its snout for the shot, the horse suddenly twirled its massive head around and snapped at Dada's forearm. Fortunately, while quick, I was a tad quicker. It missed. I decided the horse, seeing Mrs. Dada, preferred her, so I took the picture instead. I didn't know horses bit! It was probably a stallion, gelding, or whatever the male of horse gender is called. (I didn't check.)

We then drove a mile or so down the road for a late lunch at the Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante. Besides the delicious northern New Mexican fare, I especially love it there this time of year because of the eaves outside hung with bright red chile ristras.

After snapping a couple of photos, as I was crossing the parking lot a car with Nevada plates pulled in. I remarked to the woman who emerged, "You look familiar. Why, you were in that car that almost ran me down just now!" She smiled, laughed off my accusation and said, "Oh, that was my husband."

Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante with eaves hung with bright red chile ristras.

We visited with them outside a bit. Turned out they weren't two of the 1,537 permanent residents who really live in Nevada. They were just in a car rental with Nevada plates. They were really from Calgary, Canada. I wanted to inquire of their immigration requirements for Americans seeking asylum, but on this rare occasion my better judgment prevailed. As we entered the restaurant together, I think we both wanted to share a table but each of us was too timid to risk asking.

Once seated inside, we waved to the Canadian "Nevadans" from opposite ends of our dining room. I felt a little badly for them. Having spent several days in the area, they had alloted but this one afternoon to drive the high road, visit Taos and return that evening to Santa Fe. In what may be their only trip to the area ever, they were going to miss experiencing Taos. But life's like that. Often limited time forces us to make choices and sometimes we miss, but come so close. Mostly I think it's best we never know. But this day, in Taos, this couple was about to get a hint of what they had forgone.

Our delicious meals arrived. Shortly thereafter, we fell into conversation with a young woman and her mother at the next table who, incredibly, were from my hometown in Oregon. The woman was dressed like wealth. Or judging from her attire, a realtor perhaps, but she was on vacation so I nixed that. (I surmised these were the people who belonged to the Z4 Roadster outside, even though it had Nevada plates.) Having never seen each other all our lives, we had so much to catch up on. My lunch got cold. Such things seem to happen in the "Land of Enchantment."

Again it was time to go. Besides, in Northern New Mexico, there is always something to look forward to just up the road. This day, it would be the little village of "Milagro" next as seen in the movie "Milagro Beanfield War" or, as it's known in real life, Truchas.


D.K. Raed said...

These are beautiful! You have such an eye & wonderful narrative, too. Makes me want to go on the road again, now.

Those Chimayo crosses enclosed in arches seem quite unique to me. Like the celtic cross unique to the Gael, I wonder if this cruciform is the result of a blend of local beliefs with christianity. I don't recall ever seeing this exact arrangement.

You're lucky the horse didn't succeed in his attempted bite cuz they can take a good chunk of forearm. Possibly he wasn't being seriously mean, only giving a warning. Whatever, it's usually the horse's personality, so don't take it personally! And I'm betting it WAS a "he", altho' gelded or intact, you usually can't miss the evidence, even when you're not looking.

Looking forward to more, more! ~~ D.K.

meldonna said...

I'm wondering about the crosses, it possible there were originally twelve, for the stations? Or maybe there are seven for the days of the week. Hmmm.

Don't feel bad about Mr. Ed; when I was two, Mom was trying to let a photog get the cute picture of Baby Mel in a cowboy hat on the little Shetland pony when the animal turned around and bit me in the belly. Left a good set of teethmarks. My mom never trusted a Shetland again. Myself, I think maybe Pokey was just tired of dealing with everybody's little nipper, and had something to say. I don't take it as a judgement of my own character, and have since had some really good relationships with the equine set. Although I won't go quite so far as to claim that some of my best friends are Shetlands.

Looking forward to hearing about more milagros...

PTCruiser said...

I'm taking you along on my next vacation as official photographer. And as D.K. said, the story behind the pictures is what puts them over the top.

azgoddess said...


thanks so much for sharing all the great pics and stories..

hope your jury duty went well...

and about your drug company relative - um, he's right -- they have been trying to keep us sick in order to make us well with their magical potions...they still remind me of the medicine men who would travel the old west..selling moonshine as a curative for

and about that movie (Milagro Beanfield War) - - at a recomendation (yours?) i watched it! so wonderful!

dada said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments. I love putting these together but find they take a little more time than a "normal" blog. I guess it's sorting thru the photos which either supplement the story or lead it. Not sure, but it's fun...especially when one gets such nice feedback--thanks again!

But what really excites me most is: I get to tag along with PT on his next vacation! (grin) TYTYTY!

And, yeh, I was intrigued by the crosses too. I guess it will be my mission next time to dig a little deeper.

az: Re jury duty....per instructions from our gov't, I waited until after 5:00 tonight to call in for my instructions. After many, many busy signals, I finally got thru. (Reminded me like Mission Impossible getting their instructions.) Their message? - Call back again after 5:00 Thursday night. I'm on this kind of jury duty the whole month of November I learned.

D.K. Raed said...

az, you mean moonshine isn't a cure-all? jeez, dada, when you finally DO get instructions, please make sure they are directing you to a real courthouse and not some off-the-beaten-path fun camp. Remember "It's a cookbook!" ~~ D.K.

meldonna said...

I got called up for jury duty in Austin when I was unemployed least they gave you a date and time to show up for instead of some such call-in kind of arrangement like you're putting up with.

Here's a thought; if they're going to keep you 'on retainer' for the jury, couldn't they at least make it worth your time? This silly $5-10 a day nonsense if you actually get picked doesn't even pay your parking fees! I don't mind doing my civic duty, but unless you work for a company with built-in jury benefits, it's not hard to see why folks dodge getting stuck in court. I suppose in the big pic this is maybe a small issue, but for everybody else in the courtroom, compensation for time is a given; why shortsheet the very people who make the decision in a case? At least compensate at minimum wage for time spent.

We are a wealthy country, and to me that just seems fair. Oh well, a girl can dream, can't she?

dada said...

Alright Mel, seriously, what planet are you on? (grin) Yeh, if I couldn't dream....

But this is a federal jury and I hear they pay $40/day....if you ever really serve.

Now I believe the local jury (which I've been called for for Jan 07) still pays $6/day and I'm wondering what the hell I'm gonna do with all the money if I make a jury!

Thanks, DK, for the warning...I'll be extra vigilant to make sure it's not a free ride to a fun camp.