"Ultima came to stay with us the summer I was almost seven. When she came the beauty of the llano unfolded before my eyes, and the gurgling waters of the river sang to the hum of the turning earth. The magical time of childhood stood still, and the pulse of the living earth pressed its mystery into my living blood."
Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ojo Caliente

On our last day in New Mexico we all took the opportunity to relax a little bit and we went to the hot springs at Oho Caliente. The springs website really explains it best, so I quote

"Ojo Caliente is the only hot springs in the world with a remarkable combination of four different types of mineral water: lithium, iron, soda and arsenic. Our ten pools are filled with different types and combinations of waters with temperatures ranging from 80-109 degrees."

And they had so many different kinds!

"Located at the heart of the springs, the historic pump has been dispensing this unique water since the nineteenth century. Lithium is believed to relieve depression and aid digestion."

"A Native American legend tells that the giant rock in the iron pool guards the place where the ancient people of the mesa once received food and water during times of famine. The warm, iron-rich water bubbles up from the natural pebble floor, providing hot spots to discover in this mystical outdoor cliffside pool. Iron is considered to be beneficial to the blood and immune system."

"The rock walls in the enclosed Soda “steam” pool create a soft echo providing a sense of calm and relaxation. Water from the Soda Spring is said to have been used to relieve digestive problems."

"The arsenic water is believed to be beneficial for relief from arthritis, stomach ulcers and to heal a variety of skin conditions. Water from the iron and arsenic springs is blended in various pools throughout the property."

It was a lovely day and some of us even indulged in a herbal detox wrap where they wrap you up in hot towels that have been soaked in herbs that are supposed to draw out impurities from the body. The expereince was really quite delicious and we all came out ready for another full day of travelling, and we may even be able to survive the frigid air and sunless skies of Michigan.

Sunday Worship Service

This weekend we did our last little bits of shopping and prepared to leave beautiful New Mexico. On Saturday some of the group went and practiced for the worship service that our group was leading at Linda and Scott’s church called Christian Family.
On Sunday we went and all of those who could sing let their voices commingle with the lovely sounds of Linda’s piano and Scott’s guitar. It really was a great experience and all the people at the church really loved it and thought it was such a treat. It was also special because Linda and Scott used to be very involved in the church and they are also worship leaders of Madison.
Afterwards we had a potluck with the members of the church and got to talk to them. I met a fascinating gentleman called Joe who was Native American and lived on the reservation with his daughters. It was a great experience to be able to talk to these people and find out all their views of the area and their experiences with it.

Richard and Tupper

Friday we went out to the Carson area and met Linda and Scott’s friends Richard and Tupper. They are both artists, Richard is an artist and makes the most amazing asymmetrical pots and Tupper does this very intricate copper, silver and glass work. They come from a lineage of artists, and they all work in different mediums. Tupper works mainly with crosses which she incorporates all these different elements in. Their daughter also wraps arrow head and glass in sterling silver wire and makes these wonderful pendants.
Richard and Tupper were very interesting and both did some of their work for us. Watching Richard throw a pot was quite an experience. He worked the clay like it was part of him and created this delicate volumous shape with only his hands and the centrifugal force of the wheel spinning.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

We make it entertaining

On Thursday we went to Santa Fe again. We went (after a detour or two) to Museum Hill to the Museum of Native American Arts and Culture. The exhibit had a lot of stuff like arrowheads and baby carriers and blankets and things like that. They put some really random stuff in the exhibition like a baby car seat and a nintendo 64 which made no sense, and then there was no plaque so understanding some of the exhibitions was basically impossible.

After the majority of our class was through the exhibition we checked out the children’s Discovery Room. There we all got to do some hands on ‘learning’. Erica and I built an almost life-sized adobe house our of giant bricks (actually I built it and then Erica reenacted Godzilla and tore it down but then rebuilt it). Kristen and Carolina played children’s bongo drums and told an absolutely hilariously ridiculous story about mountain lions which we all had a pretty big laugh over. And then Jocelyn tried to do a puzzle but some kids had mixed up all the pieces so her experience may have been a little less than satisfactory.

Afterwards we ate at the cafeteria and then all but Linda and Carolina went to the International Folk Art Museum. This museum was absolutely the best and I think everyone agreed upon that because there wasn’t a single pot in it! They had all these little folk art dioramas from a bunch of different countries which was so cool.

We also got to try our hands at needlepoint, weaving and doing some loom work. Erica was by far the most fruitful and made a sweet little pot holder (the kind you make in 1st grade with the little nylon bands) which she gets to take home and give to her mommy!! Actually, I have no idea what she is going to do with it, but it was pretty cool anyways. The rest of us loomed which was frustrating because all the people before us had kinda of messed it up (that would have been the 6 yr olds that the exhibit was meant for). The needle point was also a hit which we did with giant needles and yarn. Two of us attempted to write ‘Taos’ which I don’t think either party finished. Whatever, it was annoying anyways.

Then we went shopping.

Printing with Michael

On Tuesday we went to Michael’s printing studio and we all got to make prints. The technique was pretty cool but the finished product left something to be desired for most of us.

But Michael was really an amazing person. He learned the trade from his father and was also an artist. He made the most interesting works from a print and then on some he would go back in and re touch them with pencils and add details. He also made prints for other artists and helped them use the technique to create their own masterpieces.

All in all, it was very cool and even though it was a little difficult we all enjoyed ourselves.

The Holiest Dirt

On Monday we went to the Sanchuario in Chimayo. We took the high road to get there and there were so beautiful pictures of the forest and the mountain tops taken. After a rather thrilling ride we arrived at Sanchuario. We went inside and it really did have a very spiritual presence. We went and looked at all the pictures of saints, and notes that people had written. There was even one by Ed Sandoval that was really interesting. It was like a familiar face in a crowd.

Every one was very interested in the holy dirt that was kept in a hole that we were told ‘kept mysteriously refilling itself’ and also that the dirt had healing properties. So we all dutifully accepted ziplock baggies from Carolina and then got a little shovel full of the dirt. The whole experience would have been quite magical had some one (who will remain anonymous because she really was just the messenger) not read the info board on the front of the church that said that the priests blessed the dirt and that it was refilled by a custodian. I mean a custodian, really?? And then to put the icing on the cake it says that the dirt has no healing properties. Well.... there goes one bubble popped.

This would have been a downright tragedy if the church was not so beautiful and had so much history associated with it. But it did. And so we all went home happy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ed Sandoval

One of our best days I have completely forgotten to mention. Wednesday we saw Ed Sandoval paint in his studio. This was by far one of everyone’s favorite days. Ed was so personable and lovely and we all watched so intently as he built this wonderful painting right in front of us. His darling dog, Chocolate (Choc-O-lat-EY) was also a trip, he jumped all over the place and ran around the studio with Kristen’s scarf in his mouth like he was the king of the world.

At the end I had asked if he would sell me one of his pallets that he paints from because it really was the most amazing amalgamation of colors. Instead of selling it to me he just gave it to me! And he autographed it and drew his signature ‘el viejo’ (old man from the Milagro Bean Field Wars which was a movie we had watched earlier in the week which was filmed in Taos).

All in all, This was definitely one of our best days in Taos and I think that Ed will forever hold a special place in all of our thoughts.