New Mexico

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Last week, Monday to be precise, I took a solo excursion to New Mexico, firstly in search of places to celebrate my Native Mexican heritage, with that dash of Comanche. My ancestral lines go back to Peru and the Maya of the Yucatan, and who knows how long they journeyed the thousands of miles to New Mexico or where they lived in between. Life is full of mysteries.

My primary concern was finding where long departed grandparents were married or baptized. Sadly, for the first stop, my camera, likely in an act of inattention, got out of setting and took the weirdest, mostly unsalvageable photos (save one – you’ll know it when you see it). Perhaps in an effort to cement my return, I wondered, because I definitely will be back.

Santa Cruz de la Canada, where three grandfathers (Jose Candelario Garcia, Jose Antonio Maes, and Jose Joaquin Garcia de Noriega) were baptized, and two sets of great-grandparents were married, (Jose Joaquin to Maria de la Concepcion), and most exciting, Antonia Olaya Xiron (such a beautiful name!) to Francisco de la Cerda on March 4, 1743. Isn’t it amazing to think this happened thirty-three years before before America was even a country?

The above two photos are in and around Espanola, the land of Ohkay Owingeh, where my Grandma Esquipula was baptized in 1827. This eastward view is one she took in, too. If you’ve done any similar traveling, I’ll bet you experienced that crushing sense of wonder and home. I come from this place. My soul lies in this soil.

My next stop was Abiquiu, the place Georgia O’Keefe made famous, and where a handful of my grandfathers were baptized at Santo Tomas Church: Juan Rafael Serna, Valentin Serna (born on Valentine’s Day!), Jose Felipe de Neri Cisneros, Florencio Casillas, and Marcos Antonio Alire.

You may be wondering where the church photos are, as I definitely have them, but I decided on painting watercolors and sharing them at a later date. Stay tuned…

And again, I was struck by the familiarity and awe of this landscape, a warm embrace of my ancestors welcoming me home.

Rio Ojo Caliente, here and a few below

My final stop was Ojo Caliente! I hadn’t been there since 2016 and had never gone without Greg, so it was an especially meditative time of very little speaking and much listening, to the fall and splash of water, wind over naked branches, and the early quiet of day.

I ate a few delicious meals at the Artesian, walked in the chill of morning (after the wild creatures in the labyrinth!), practiced yoga, and scrubbed and soaked and steamed, over and over again, fully aware of my great privilege to do so in a place my ancestors received similar respite.

Ute Mountain and the freshly capped Sangre de Cristos

All is revered, all is home…

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Not Taos, as the Cow would proclaim, nor San Cristobal, but Arroyo Seco here. We had a New Mexico itch in need of scratching, planned ages ago because we are prescient like that. Goodness, I do not believe we could have timed it better, either. The weekend prior was a wild tumult of wind, more wind, and snow, but for our brief sojourn, the weather was positively glorious. Sun and more sun, nary a breeze, and during the daylight hours, that earthly quiet my heart craves. Splendid dear friends, splendid.

We did go into town, buying a bracelet at MoMo (such a fine selection!) and devouring rellenos and chimichangas at Orlando’s.

Back to the Taos Cow, may I recommend a Cherry Ristra cone. For those not in the know, a ristra is a string of chiles, hung as you would a wreath in warm welcome. This particular welcome was, surprise, cherry, no chile, but delicious nuggets of dark chocolate and pinon nuts. Muy bien!

My shadow. His Light.

Here now is San Cristobal. We have zoomed past countless times, coming and going from Taos, this time deciding to stop at the Taos Goji Eco Lodge. It’s a delightful spot, with charming owners and care takers, cabins old enough to have hosted D.H. Lawrence, and Aldous Huxley. The rather fetching D.H. Lawrence cabin had all that we could ask for, but most cherished was the outdoor setting. So beautiful, and the stars, the stars! I cannot wait to have those skies availed to me on the daily.

The Lodge has forty acres, made for a wander, and is adjacent to beautiful trails. There are animals galore – sheep, alpacas, chickens, goats, and a sweet and very protective donkey named Doris Day. What fun we had making their acquaintance!

Our sweet girl had an equally good time, awake and asleep.

The road home. I never tire of these views!


Moody light over Taos, so beautiful!

Taos Mountain enveloped in snow

Picuris Peak

Sangre de Christos

For our return trip home, we found a cool casita just a “block” away from our Taos land. We know the neighborhood, but this was the first time we actually set foot on the property, having bought it at the height of the pandemic, and walked the gorgeous views.

We also had a wonderful breakfast (how excited I am to have New Mexican style food I won’t have to make myself!) with our delightful realtor and equally kindly person, Yvonne Trujillo and her husband David, talking land and concrete and wells and everything in between. How real this is all becoming, thrilling and frightening, too. Please think good thoughts for us!

I am ridiculously content, sitting in the wood stove warmth of the Sugar Nymphs Bistro in Penasco. We love this place, as the service (our sweet server was named Colleen!!), all the food, and especially the desserts, are top notch. This is my absolute favorite seat in the house, right by the stove and with a great view of the art lined walls.

We also, for the first time, made a couple of wine and cider tasting stops at Black Mesa and La Chiripada. Both were marvelous, with super friendly staff. We bought quite a bit for two people who don’t drink on the regular!

Taos Mountain from Picuris Peak and zoomed from our neighborhood. We’ll have a view of this stunner from our back porch. Huzzah!

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Hello from a week a little over a week ago, on the road south to Albuquerque. It seems a bit sacrilege not to include a dazzler of the Spanish Peaks any time we are in the neighborhood, so here we are. It was a gorgeous day for a drive!

Happy New Mexican Black Dog meets University of New Mexico Lobo. Juniper gave it a curious sniff before realizing it wasn’t going to make a move on her.

All the above photos were taken on the UNM campus. Like most colleges I have visited in my life, the grounds were quite unexpectedly beautiful. You’d think I would be prepared for it, at this point, but alas, I am an occasional slow learner. I can’t imagine a more perfect sampling of New Mexico arhitecture, either. Sweet sigh.

Also, for a fun bit of history, Grandpa Marv attended school here before enlisting in the Navy. What a wonderful picture I conjured of his handsome young self, long legs carrying him across campus.

San Felipe de Neri

We stayed in a great airbnb, owned by a very talented artist (Lezle Williams and bought a few prints!), and just a short walk to Old Town.

Historic Route 66 continues to be a big influence in Albuquerque. We got some kicks at this delicious diner, sharing a burger and milkshake, of course!

The Kimo Theater was built in 1927, and is quite the stunner. It is another place I like to imagine Grandpa when he was little, with his family, or maybe even on a date with Grandma.

I was keen on getting the neon in full regalia, so we made a beeline here after our Route 66 Diner treats. Little did we know that Saturday nights are for cruising, and were treated to a sort of American Graffiti moment of stunning low riders along Central Avenue. I am super psyched to get in on this when we are New Mexico State residents. Yes, ma’am.

Our Albuquerque abode…

Crazy to think how old this city is – 317 years!!

Get ready for Arizona…



Don’t be afraid of being wrong. Because being wrong is just an opportunity to find more of the truth.

Annie Duke

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